Canucks and Beyond
by Alanah McGinley on 05/15/11 at 02:51 AM ET
From Saturday’s media Q&A with Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis. Below is the complete transcript.
Q. Alain, your thoughts on Hank and Danny? Fresh start for them, but especially them because of the criticism and the fire they were under for not producing as much as everyone expects them to in the last round?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I think they got some unfair criticism there. They obviously are here to produce. With that being said, though, they played some solid games where they spent a lot of time on the other team’s end. They spent a lot of time generating some quality chances.
You got to give credit where credit is due. They both made some real good saves.
I’m confident that if they continue to play the right way, it’s not going to get easier obviously with the opposition that we’re facing. But if they continue to put in the right type of work and the right type of play, that they’re going to do what they need to do to help us win.
Q. What can Ryan Kesler do for an encore? If he ends up getting the Thornton matchup, what are the challenges there?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, he faced some good players in the last round. Also as the season went on he faced a good duo on D. They made some adjustments. For the most part they had Weber and Sutter out against him. I expect him to continue doing the same thing he’s been doing, which is playing good, hard hockey.
He wants to win. The rest of our group also wants to win. At this time of the year, you need your players to play their best hockey. That’s what we expect.
Q. Mike, you had the goalie and the above-average defense. Why invest to adding to that defense in the off-season?
MIKE GILLIS: Because over the last couple years we found we didn’t have enough defensemen. As playoffs go on, defensemen seem to get hurt. We had an inordinate amount of defensemen getting injured and we wanted to have as much depth as we could.
Q. Alain, you have to try to enjoy the ride while you’re focusing on the job. Are you able to enjoy a run like this?
COACH VIGNEAULT: There’s some good days and some days a little bit more challenging than others, would be the honest answer.
You know, I want to say the typical answer, this is the fun time of the year, and you got to find ways to enjoy it. I’m not sure Game 7 against Chicago when they scored, how much fun we were having there (laughter).
But, you know, the reality is, we work all year long, starting day one at training camp, to get our team and our group ready to play hard, to be in the right frame of mind. Then they’ve got to go out and play.
I think as staff, management, coaching staff, we’ve done I think what we’re supposed to do as far as getting this group feeling good about themselves, feeling good about one another. We’re really confident that they can go out and get it done. We’re going to try and enjoy it one day at a time.
Q. What does it mean to have Rick Bowness beside you considering where you’ve come from?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Rick gave me obviously my first chance in the NHL. This is not an easy league to be part of, to get to. It’s not an easy league, once you’re out of it, to get back into.
I feel real privileged he gave me my first opportunity and I was able to bring him back here with me in Vancouver and work with him. He’s a great quality person. We’re hoping that the relationship’s going to continue.
Q. Mike, it was said the team had unfair criticism. What are your thoughts about how they’ve been portrayed throughout the playoffs?
MIKE GILLIS: I think, like everything, it’s a process that you have to go through. When you face the same team repeatedly, it can become easier to check the top players. You can figure out some of the tendencies a little bit more, unlike the regular season, when you play in Nashville, you play in Dallas, you play in Columbus. It’s a different mix every night.
I think when you face top pairings in the National Hockey League over a long period of time, it’s easier to defend and score. We’ve seen the effort there. We’ve seen how determined they are to succeed. None of that has changed. I fully anticipate through the different matchups that they’re going to be as successful as they expect to be and as we hope they are.
Q. Alain, you referred to having the team feeling good about themselves and each other. Can you expand on that? Getting past that second-round hurdle, has that changed the feel around the team?
COACH VIGNEAULT: As far as our expectations, I mean, I said this prior to the playoffs. We didn’t get into this to win one round. After we won the first round, I said we didn’t get in this to win just two rounds.
Our expectations of this group have been very high since day one. We had set goals that we told the players at the start of the season. There’s a process to achieve those goals.
Right now we’re in our third phase of the playoffs. Obviously our goal is the same as San Jose’s: they want to move on to the final round.
You know, we feel good about our game. We feel confident that if we play the right way, we can be the better team on the ice. Hopefully we’ll set out to prove that starting tomorrow.
Q. You’ve known Roberto a few years now. How much has he grown as a person and player on the ice?
MIKE GILLIS: I don’t know I could say he’s grown as a person. He’s been a great leader and great competitor since the day I got here. I think his growth as a professional, as a player, has been the signs of somebody who is committed to being the best.
Even though changes are difficult to accept at times, perhaps not as understood as you would like, he embraced them from the moment we decided to make changes. He’s a better goalie for it.
Q. Having coached Maxim Lapierre, did you have a lot of say on bringing him here?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Anytime we bring in a player here, everybody discussing their knowledge of that player. Obviously I knew Max a little bit. Our scouting staff and our management staff were all aware of him, his qualities, the areas that he could improve. Came down to the final decision. Mike made it. We’re happy to have him onboard.
Q. Mike, San Jose’s leaders have probably had a few more kicks at the cat to get to the Cup. Your current group, first time here in a while, are there any similarities that you could speak to? Is it fair for us to draw any comparisons to the two franchises?
MIKE GILLIS: For me, I’ve been here three years. I didn’t have any influence before that, don’t feel any sort of affiliation to the prior 37 years. I can’t speak about that.
To me, San Jose is a team that is a model team. I mean, they’re in a non-traditional hockey market, they’re sold out all the time, they created a grass-roots program second to none, had a very competitive team for a long time, made good trades.
I think you put yourself in a position to try to kick the door open as much as you can. Sometimes you get a lucky break that propels you forward or you get a bad break that stops you.
I think the best organizations are ones that are constantly positioned to do well in the playoffs, and I think they’re one of them.
Comparisons between us and them, I think we both have good, entertaining teams. There’s not a big difference in my mind in what we both ice and how we approach it.
Q. Who do you think Kesler should play against as center? What is your matchup?
MIKE GILLIS: I think he can play against anyone the way he’s playing right now. It’s up to our coaches when they devise the game plan to decide. I’m comfortable with whatever they want to do.
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About Canucks and Beyond
Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.
In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.
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Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]