On a scale of 1-10, how much he missed talking to the regular reporters:
Which is good? [Reporter: 10 being the most.] 10. It’s good to be back.
On how many training camps he has taken part in as a player or coach:
Well, quite honest, on the ice…it’s really the third season with this group, and I haven’t been on the ice with them. So, for me that’s like 35.
On whether he’s fully healed from his robot-performed surgery:
I’m a hundred percent. I’m good. It feels good to feel good again. It took a while. [Reporter: You caught us off-guard just showing up on the news one night.] Just the way I like it.
On why he held off on having the procedure:
My dad and most of my brothers have had the same thing, and I knew it wasn’t something that you were just going to walk out and be good again. And you know how much I don’t like guys not playing if they’re half-injured. Quite honest, I’d rather they didn’t know that I was hurt. [Reporter: Dean told us that you just thought it was going to heal on its own.] Yeah, well, sorta. Give it time.
On his first training camp, and how he prepares for it:
Well, it’s obviously a big difference. See, if we’d have started last year, if we’d have had training camp last year, it was pretty well set. Other than Willie, our team was set. This is a big difference. There’s not minor changes. There’s guys that are clearly fighting for spots, and you can’t keep everybody. And that’s partly related to guys that came up and played well last year, or guys that our organization traded for during the season, and then with the trade in the off-season. If you just do numbers by position, first off, we’re trying to improve by position. Particularly our left side last year, if you look at it production-wise, didn’t produce enough for us. We were some ways, when you break it down like that, lucky to be a playoff team. So we’re clearly looking for guys that can play a little higher or play with the right guys or give us a little more production or help us with maybe our speed or our identity a little bit.
On whether he has an idea of who he’ll play with Carter and Richards:
I want to give Frattin…clearly every opportunity to play with them. So that’s sort of where I want to start with that, and then if you go down from there, well obviously Cliffy deserves an opportunity. He scored seven goals in 48 games, but then he was goose egg in the playoffs. Fortunately we have after the double header with Phoenix a lot of opportunities to look at guys.
On whether he plans on using Group A and Group B as the teams that will remain at home as opposed to traveling to Phoenix on Sunday:
You know what, you start a day with five lines and 10 defense. Obviously you can only play four and six, so that has a lot to do with it…Quite honest I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it. [Reporter: Are you staying for the game here, or you going to Phoenix, or do you not even know that part yet?] No, I’ll probably travel. Get out of Dodge for a day. Especially, you’re playing in that situation – you call it split-squad, or whatever – I’d rather go with the younger group and be with them for a day. It makes a difference.
On whether he approaches the season any differently due to realignment:
I think as training camp goes along…[and] as we get down to numbers, we’ll talk a lot more with our players about it, because it’s not so much the division changes. I know we’re in a seven-team division, but it’s not a balanced schedule. Teams in California didn’t get a break, that’s for sure, because they changed the divisions.
On the expectations he has for Willie Mitchell:
We’ll just take it a day at a time. That’s clear. Really clear. He hasn’t played in a year and he’s 35-years-old. A year and three months. That’s a lot. We’ll just kind work with him, and he and I will just stay together, work on it. He passed his physical, passed his medical – all those things – but at the same time he was one of the guys that didn’t do all his tests, quite honest, because we didn’t want him to. There’s still a lot of work…We’re still being very cautious with him.
On Willie Mitchell declaring his return as a method of trying to prove doubters wrong:
He’s a really good player that the last game he played he won a championship and was a big part of it. He hasn’t played for a year, and quite honest, if you’d talk to him, he’s been through this before. Even though he hadn’t won before, he’d been through where he’s missed prolonged period of time, and had to do that same thing – come back. Actually, he had to come here to do that. There’s a reason he’s a good player. He’s a proud guy, so he’s going to try and do that.
On whether the number two goaltender will be determined off performances in camp, or whether it’s more complicated:
You know, you’re going to have to talk to Dean, first off, because Mathieu is on tryout. But he’s going to get every opportunity, and obviously the coaches have to show confidence in three or four guys there and let them sort it out. He’ll get the opportunity. The only thing as a coach is nobody’s going to leave here and say they weren’t given the opportunity.