Q: Some of your players are skating at Southpointe, and others are playing in Europe. What do coaches miss by not being on the ice every day with their players?
A: The practice part, the implementation part, that teaching part on the ice — it’s not something I think I’m perfectly ready to jump right into that for whatever type of training camp you give me. Not having an exhibition game to coach in is one thing I’m not sure how to handle.
Q: What does a coach get out of an exhibition game?
A: I talked to a fellow Western Conference coach this summer, and his team only played us once last year, and he talked about how he couldn’t find what our team’s rhythm was, how it was tough for him to see how our team plays. The rhythm of the game is something that you can read in other teams and are part of how you coach as well. You fall into those rhythms. Players earn spots, and you count on these players. There are times our players expect to go on the ice — because there has been an icing and we’re going to put out a line to capitalize on that. Not only can you, but your players can, too, get that rhythm for how you coach. Some of that in some aspects is like riding a bike, but (new acquisition) Brandon Sutter doesn’t know that about me. Nor me him. If you talk about going out tomorrow for a practice with a team, I know exactly what I’m going to do, how I’m going to try to accomplish it and how we’re going to try and do that. If you talk about a game, that’s a little bit different.
Q: Is there any element from the last two playoffs that somebody could watch the Penguins, if and when the season begins, and say definitively the players have learned from those losses — at least, is there anything your team could show before another playoff begins?
A: Well, no. Absolutely, in a lot of ways, the proof will come then (in the playoffs). We’ve been talking about the penalty kill, but it’s just not that. When you’re talking about where we are better as a team, it has to be factored in — what we do in the playoffs compared to what we did in the playoffs. I’ve looked at Philly vs. Jersey just as much as I’ve looked at us vs. Philly. I had to.
Q: So the question Penguins fans might have is whether that loss to the Flyers, which still sticks with them — six months later, with all this time because of the lockout — does it stick with you any more than the other playoff losses?
A: Yes, because neither our expectations nor how we played was what our team is, and that’s difficult. We missed out on a real opportunity. That opportunity was we really had a chance (to win the Stanley Cup.) To boot, we didn’t play to our capabilities in a lot of areas, and that’s very difficult.