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END OF THE YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE: PART II

Thursday, 04.29.2010 / 4:47 PM / News
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END OF THE YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE: PART II
Larry Quinn (Photo: Buffalo Sabres)
The Buffalo Sabres management team addressed the media Thursday morning and discussed the state of the team. Head Coach Lindy Ruff, Minority Owner Larry Quinn, and General Manager Darcy Regier fielded questions for nearly an hour at HSBC Arena. Take a look at a transcript of Part II of the interview below. 


Larry how are you salary cap-wise? Will you be able to do, make any kind of moves in that regard? Or are you kind of up against… I know you guys were pretty high up there?

REGIER: No we have room to make moves, but we have been very well supported by ownership, financially.

Are you open to bringing Henrik [Tallinder] and Toni Lydman back?

REGIER: Yes. I am, but it’s something that we have not [talked about]. I have avoided that, talking about it, even internally. Everything was focused on the playoffs. It’s something that we’ll sit down on…

Both of them?

REGIER: We’ll sit down and talk with both of them. Yeah, you know when you ask the question, sure. At the right price, absolutely… That’s the hard part.

Realistically can you fit both in do you think? Or might it just be one of them?

REGIER: At the right price, we can [fit] both, yeah sure.

How much of a red flag is it that both Portland and Buffalo went out early in the first round of their respective playoffs?

REGIER: I wouldn’t… Portland is a very different animal. That is about developing players and that is about process. That team, briefly, we had eight rookies on that team. They and the coaching staff there, that team from the trainers to the coaching staff, that organization, the ownership, did a tremendous job in their development of those kids. You saw Tyler Ennis. He had a terrific year, won Rookie of the Year in the American Hockey League. Nathan Gerbe was there, we have a group of I think very good, young defensemen coming. And that’s part of the process for them so everything there is very positive.

Darcy what is the plan? I know at the [trade] deadline you had talked about you would probably be more busy making trades in the summer time. You don’t do it at the deadline, obviously or you’ll get caught doing stupid stuff. So the summer is the ideal place to make moves. Do you expect to be busy this summer?

REGIER: I will try to be busy, yes.

Do you expect Tim Connolly to be here next season?

REGIER: Oh I don’t know. Right now he’s under contract so I do expect him to be here. The ‘I don’t know’ is referenced to the work that we have to do, not limited to Tim Connolly. It’s the whole team.

Are you disappointed in Tim Connolly’s performance, especially when it came down to needing a top-line center in the playoffs?

REGIER: You want to answer that Lindy?

RUFF: I think the obvious answer is we’re all disappointed. Tim went through meetings and… we did count on him and Derek to be the go-to to play. I did express some concern though with the fact that he was going to enter the playoffs on one day of practice. I don’t need to sit here and make excuses. I was the guy that chose to dress him and play him. But you have to weigh some factors. Going into the playoffs we had some players; we had one guy coming off a concussion, one guy coming off a broken foot, we lost Jochen [Hecht] to the finger injury, we had [Pat] Kaleta playing with a cast on.

There was some concerns and Tim was a concern. It was a disappointing playoff. It was a disappointing playoff for Tim, it was a disappointing playoff for several players. When you lose a series there is going to be disappointments. That’s an obvious statement with any team that loses. If Boston would have lost, [Milan]Lucic and [Marco] Sturm would have been a disappointment for them because you’re looking at those players to be an impact. My job is to evaluate, to go back over it and to go through again, and after yesterday’s meeting find some answers, find more answers.

There is a perception that maybe this team lacked, need to bolster its centers this season before the playoffs even began. Darcy, to you, I guess is there a need to bolster that position and find a top line center?

REGIER: Such generalities; bolster. Bolster.

RUFF: Just to, I mean…

Do you have a top line center on the team?

RUFF: Go ahead Darcy.

REGIER: Yes we do. Yes we do. How you want to measure that, you can pick how you measure that. I think, can we be better? Can they get better? Yes. Absolutely. One of the obligations we have is to find better players. I have to find better players if they are available. That’s a constant obligation. So when you’re talking about bolster, sure, if you can find a better centerman. And forget about [specifics]. Any team that can find a better center will probably try to acquire that center.

They are a big part of the team, they are important to your success and they are not readily available. Most of the time you are going to have to get them through the draft and unfortunately if you get the best ones through the draft, there is a good possibility that you will have had to be very bad for at least one year and maybe longer. So if teams have them, the likelihood of them giving them up isn’t very high. That brings you back to the people you have, and doing the work, in season and offseason, and helping them grow and become better. To the extent that that fails, then you have to try and figure out what to do going forward.

Coach it seems like when Derek [Roy] plays your system, plays the way you would like him to, he’s a very good hockey player – there’s no question about that. And it seems like when he strays away from the system that you’ve laid out, he’s not as good. Does he do it enough I guess is what I’m asking? Does he play within the system? Is he difficult to coach that way?

RUFF: No I wouldn’t say he’s difficult. I think when you’re looking at a creative player, there has to be some flexibility. Derek’s creativity, his ability… I’m asking him to do more things than I would ask of a Paul Gaustad. You have to allow for that creativity. You’re going to see more mistakes, but you’re going to see plays that other players can’t make. On the offensive side of it, if you don’t allow those type of players that little bit of room one way or the other Paul, they won’t be able to create.

They’re going to have more turnovers, they’re going to have more and tougher decisions when you’re looking at the game. But for the most part, when the game is on the line, you know that he’s the type of guy that can make a play, can get the puck up ice for you. Nine times out of 10 he was the guy that had to leg it up ice in all key situations. Inside the system, in his own end, is where we tried to get him to grow. There still has to be growth inside the system there. But there was improvements in a season that we made a lot of changes to the structure of our game, which we saw some big benefit.

Even before this year, the last 47 games combined for Derek and Tim in the playoffs, they’ve only got two goals. Why can’t they transfer that regular season success yet to the playoffs?

RUFF: That’s a good question. I think that the ability to get, to really get inside, in the playoffs is tough. You see that in all of these series. That those type of goals are more prominent in the playoffs. Obviously are struggles with our power play in the post-season is an area where they could have taken advantage of. They both had great opportunities to produce. I can sit and talk about chances, but I’d rather not, and they didn’t.

Lindy doesn’t that say then, based on that, if he can’t get inside, do you need a little bit more size? Do you need a little bit more grit to win those battles to get in?

RUFF: I think it’s a good conversation. You need, as Darcy said, you need a good blend. When Tim wasn’t going well early in the year and Jochen Hecht went up on his line, that line took off. You need a blend of size, you need… a Backstrom needs an Ovechkin, Ovechkin needs Backstrom just as much. I saw at the Olympics, Ovechkin without a guy like Backstrom passing him the puck all day. There wasn’t that much production.

Each line, there is two players on each line usually that can really complement each other. If that mix is broken up, lots of times the line doesn’t have success or that individual player doesn’t have success. It’s constant during the year trying to find that right type of chemistry within a line; whether it’s size, whether we look too small on a line, whether we’ve got a guy that constantly gets in the inside and opens up stuff for the other two players. But I think it’s a blend; it’s a blend of players, it’s a blend of size, it’s a blend of what they do inside your system.

Keep that in mind then, you’re going to have Ennis, who it’s obvious to anybody that he can play. He’s not the biggest guy. If you’re going to add a smaller guy, or Gerbe for instance – I don’t know about him – but just say Ennis, do you then need to add another big guy to complement the balance that you’re talking about. You know what I mean? It’s this ever-going, ongoing thing here.

RUFF: That again, I haven’t been around him enough. I’ve seen what he can do, the energy he can bring, the plays that he can make. I’ve seen some of the struggles he’s had as a player due to size. Like any young player he wants to work on his shot, he wants to get stronger, he wants to even get a little bit quicker. Guys with that size disadvantage in our League need the right players to complement them. I don’t know if that’s a 6-foot-6 guy, or just a really determined 6-foot-2 guy. It’s how hard guys work for each other in this blend of size because you can see that he can get to places and he can be creative enough. Finding the right guy to complement is going to be key



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