On the draft process, and whether there were any wrinkles he had anticipated?
No, it’s been a really smooth process. We were very excited about last night. In the draft, we were trying to upgrade our skill level. It’s one of those things where sometimes you work really hard to move up and you overthink things about trying to move up to get players because you clearly have them in another spot. There wasn’t a lot of talk about movement. I mean, there were a lot of trades made – big trades with players involved – but as far as picks and stuff like that with movement, there was really nothing for us to do, even in spite of the effort. But the players that we wanted were falling to us, so again, it certainly happened last night with Gabe, and then today it started the same thing off with Anderson-Dolan. He’s a kid that we coveted. It’s like a MacDermid-like intensity in his combine interview. We actually had to tell him, ‘kid, smile, take a pill.’ It’s a good burn, it’s a really good burn, and of course when you hire Don Nachbaur as an assistant coach, now you get a whole new different ramp up of how much he was appreciated in that organization. We hit it off at the combine interviews, and our guys were really thrilled, and that kind of momentum just carried on. To get him to start the day off just kickstarted everything, and I’m excited.
On the dynamic in meetings and at the draft table under new management:
Well, for one thing, the relationship that myself and Mark have and the chemistry we have, it’s a different role now, but I got a lot to see the first couple picks, and I said, you talk about the way Dean was, Dean said when you get into that role when you don’t see all these kids, the job is to go in [to meetings], and I clearly have been with them and know how hardly they work and the work ethic’s second-to-none, but just ask the right questions. Challenge the right spots. Again, it’s asking the right questions and challenging the guys in a real positive way about certain people, and that continued over throughout the meetings this year. But this is a group that we have, and knowing them the way I do, it gave me a different opportunity to get in there from a different light. Again, just ask the right kind of questions. Dean used to do it a different way, but it’s the same thing. Just make sure they’re sure and confident about who they’re taking, and that they’ve done the homework on the character of the kids and stuff like that. And again, the work ethic’s never an issue with this group.
On trying to add skill and scoring to the organization:
We’re trying to improve our team everywhere, right? But the reality of it is, I think it was the first sentence Blakey uttered at his press conference was ‘we don’t score enough goals,’ and that’s something that we’re trying to address, and as much as we feel we’ve added some layers of scoring and skill here in Chicago, those guys aren’t ready to come in and help the team that we need to help right away. Under every avenue, be it via free agency, trade, we’re looking at every possible way to get this team better and to get our offense kickstarted in another direction.
On having some cap space:
I anticipate us trying every avenue possible to make the team better, and we’ve never been a team that’s been shy to spend the money up towards – we’re a cap hockey team – to make it better. There are some interesting options, but there are a lot of teams trying to make their teams better, too. We’ll have to see how things unfold, but it’s certainly not going to be due to any lack of effort. Every stone’s being overturned here to make sure that we can add some scoring to the lineup.