April 12 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter

On whether he congratulated Toffoli on being named the AHL’s outstanding rookie:
“Yeah, I did, yesterday morning, because his dad had called him and saw it before we did. So, that’s good.”

On winning the same award as a member of the New Brunswick Hawks in 1979-80:
“It was the year I had come back from Japan. I wanted to play in the NHL. I went up and down, similar to what Tyler did this year, actually. I played a few games up, and then I played the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Calder Cup Playoffs. So I played two rounds in Chicago, and got beat in the Calder Cup Finals. Played two rounds. I remember scoring an overtime goal to win a series in Maine. I can’t remember how it worked, but I played like four or five rounds that year, and then Hershey beat us in the Finals. [Reporter: Do you remember the goal? Do you remember how it came about? It was your goal?] Yeah, but Maine was a good team then, and both me and New Brunswick were in the same division, so we had to win our division. I forget who we had to beat out. Halifax, maybe. We played Hershey in the Finals. The only reason I remember is because in the old building in Hershey, there weren’t many guys wearing helmets. Their captain was Doug Gibson, who was a really good player in the old American League. I still remember he scored in overtime to beat us.”

On how he’ll gauge that Matt Greene is capable of being inserted into the lineup:
“Well, first off, he’s got to get cleared. He doesn’t have one second of contact, so that’s not even close. And, quite honest, if he’s not ready to play three or four games, and if we made the playoffs, I’d have trouble putting him in for sure. He played, what, a few minutes of the year. So it’s not about ‘what you did’. It’s ‘what you’re doing’. It’s very simple. I mean, he’s going to have to play three or four games, very simple, otherwise I could not be comfortable with it.”

On Simon Gagne playing in the Stanley Cup Final after missing significant time:
“And you know what? Simon played a handful of minutes in a fourth line role. We were struggling to score and trying to think maybe he could create an opportunity for us somewhere. But you’re right. It’s totally different. You’re not going to have a guy that can just play a handful of minutes, right? Greene’s specialty is he’s a physical player, and he’s a good penalty killer. A lot of that is conditioning. Until he gets contact – and we’re kind of in the ‘let’s get going’ mode – otherwise, he can have trouble.”

On whether Greene is available for any limited “jostling”:
“He hasn’t been cleared for any of that yet, and that, quite honest, is the toughest part. You look at even Dustin [Penner], when he was out for the whole week, and basically all he did was skate. Well, his first game back we go into Dallas, and the first half of the game for us – especially the first period – was power play. So your top guys are playing for the most part. So Dustin’s sitting on the end of the bench. So when it’s time for the Big Diesel to go, Big Diesel’s a little slow, right? And even last night when I talked to him about it – because of power plays early, and just the way we’re using Richie and Jeff right now, Penns and Kinger and the big bodies, it’s hard to get [going]. We call it up to speed – I tell the guys, ‘You’ve got to be up to speed.’ Everybody has different speeds. But you’ve got to be up to speed.”

On whether Greene could travel, or whether he wants only active players on trips:
“He’s not an active player. Until he’s cleared for full practice – so that’s whatever day it is, and nobody’s told us yet, or told me yet – don’t let those guys in the way, right? [Reporter: He’s not the kind of guy who kind of gets in the way, anyways.] No, I mean Greener’s been awesome because he’s such a part of our dressing room. He’s our defensive coordinator. I want him back, for sure, and I want him back practicing, but we need contact. Otherwise, it’s a jersey color that’s not going to get to play….They’ve got to be able to give you minutes. He’s not playing on our team as a 10-minute or a 12-minute guy because, quite honest, he can only play one side, and that’s the same side that Drew and Slava play. And those guys are playing too much right now. As well as Drew’s playing, it’d be way better if he was playing low-20’s. Way better for Drew.”

On whether the younger players have taken advantage of the opportunity:
“I think Keaton’s come over and we put him on his off side, and he’s done a really good job for us. I think he’s had ebb-and-flow, just like every one of them, which is what the position brings without the experience. The same with Muzz. Muzz came in, it was basically because he can only play the left side, so that basically became a Martinez-Muzzin competition and still is. They’ve gotten us to this point, and I think it’s been good for them, and it’s probably been good for us in the overall picture. Not so much right now, but in the big picture, right?”

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