On whether it’s good to know the final roster and begin the first week of the season:
It is. I just think getting the numbers down a little bit, I think it gets the group to a point where they can really ramp up the tempo in practice. Guys get the reps they need and guys are a little more settled in terms of who they might be playing with and who’s going to be here, who’s not going to be here. I think it’s a welcome state. [Reporter: The guys like Iafallo and Brodzinski, do you look at them as interchangeable pieces in that top-six or top-nine forward unit – you can kind of move them around, if you want to?] I think so. I think they’ve got a skill set, just depending how they respond. Sometimes you get a young player with a real veteran player and he’s a little bit too conscious of playing with a veteran player, and that’s something we want to keep an eye on. And we put him up with Kopi, or if they get a chance to play with Kopi or Jeff, we put him there because of how they’re playing or what they’re capable of. In Brodzinski’s case, we don’t want him to stop shooting the puck because he’s playing with a veteran player, we want him to shoot the puck when the opportunity’s there and be the player we know he can be regardless of who he’s playing with. I think that’s a challenge for every young player, but they certainly have the skill set that they can move up and down your lineup.
On whether there’s a formal acknowledgement with younger players who make the team, or whether the players simply understand it:
There wasn’t any formal ‘hey, you’re here.’ I mean, I think they’re pretty smart guys that can see the other guys aren’t. But we’ve sat down with them and just let them know what’s expected on a daily basis. Some of them, they change their number and those types of things that happen with the progression of getting a chance to play here. But there’s definitely communication and feedback in terms of what’s expected. [Reporter: What was your first call-up? Was it Springfield-to-Hartford?] I played a few games in Philadelphia. I think I played about nine games in Philly in my time there. [Reporter: Was it in the middle of the season, or was it in the beginning of the season?] It was during the season. That’s always an exciting, nervous time, but I think once you get in, I think in my case, I played in – I’m pretty sure it was in Buffalo – and there were a lot of minor league guys on both teams because both teams had injuries. I think when I got on the ice and saw other guys that I had played against before it kind of made it a little easier for me. But these guys have been in lots of games now. The regular season’s going to be different, just like the playoffs are different than the regular season. But I think there’s a necessary process they go through. We just hope we can expedite the learning curve. [Reporter: Did you get a new jersey number when you got called up?] I got stuck in the 40’s my whole career.
On any sort of orientation process for new players:
It depends what level you’re talking about. From a system-team-style of play standpoint, there’s been an awful lot of review on a daily basis and there continues to be, just about things you want to do, how you want to get better, and constantly reviewing what we’re doing well, how can we do it better? I think that’s the same for everybody, but in terms of getting their relationships in place and learning about each other, I think the trip to China was really good for us. I think we spent an awful lot of time together there. Guys took advantage of the free time where they had team dinners together. Obviously the Friday where we got a chance to go to the Wall, and then the event at Madam Chao’s. … I think that’s a process that continues to progress over time, but in terms of the team and style of play and all that, I think there’s been an awful lot of review on that on a daily basis, both on and off the ice.
-Quotes used for earlier stories on Marian Gaborik and Brooks Laich are available here.
-Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI