A little late on this since the interview was conducted on Wednesday but **** it, it's the lockout *******!
As always, you can listen to the actual interview via the Team 1200's Facebook page.
My comments will be in bold.
Q: Do you have the whole staff and all the scouts down in Bingo?
A: No, just a couple of guys. Pierre, obviously and Randy. Chris Schwarz is here to help out with training camp and he’s still here. I think he leaves after the game tonight. Rob Murphy, one of our pro scouts, is here. Bryan (Murray) drove down a day or two ago and he’s going to watch the first game also and a couple of us will stay down here until it’s all said and done.
Bryan Murray drove down instead of relying upon the infamous chartered limousine that shuttles players between Ottawa and Binghamton? That is quite the cost-saving strategy. I bet there's a former employee somewhere who feels better knowing it was not just the lowest employees on the organization's proverbial totem pole who were negatively affected by the lockout.
Q: What are the marching orders going forward for the scouting staff?
A: There is a little regional stuff to begin with in the amateur. The pro guys right now are full steam ahead – get through the American (Hockey) League and it’s a good chance to get through that and see all the times. And that’s all there is, so we should get a good book on that by Christmas, I would think. Up until November, we’re always regional anyways. We want each guy to come out with an ‘A & B list’ from their respective leagues before we cross over anyways, so at this moment, it’s close to business as usual but we’re just being a little careful.
Well, I suppose if I won't be able to cheer on the Senators this season, I can always cheer on their scouts like 6th Sens favorite, Bob Lowes!
Q: If this lockout continues, is there going to be some consideration in bringing up some of the Binghamton Senators games to Ottawa?
A: We haven’t talked about it, to be very honest. Even the one game that we have had there in the past we have brought back here, so I think on our schedule, the regular home-and-home with Montreal between Hamilton, Montreal and Ottawa – we are doing the game in Montreal but the back home part of that is in Binghamton. So as of right now, there are no plans, as of this moment, to play games (in Ottawa).
Having been to the past two Binghamton games that have been played in Ottawa, the only thing more scarce than the discernable lack of talent on Binghamton's roster last season were the lack of fans in attendance.
Q: How is Luke Richardson doing down there?
A: Yeah, I have watched a couple of our scrimmages. I went to our pre-game skate this morning and went our practice this morning. We had two ice-times for the guys who are playing and aren’t playing split up. He has taken control. He is over at the board. We were joking, Bryan (Murray) said, “That’s the most that we’ve seen Luke talk at one time, is over by the whiteboard.” He’s trying to teach. He has delegated. Steve Stirling, one of his assistants here, has had lots to say in practice and there is tons of communication and just a lot of good stuff that we want for our young guys. There are a lot of guys down here; it’s their first chance to be down here. It’s not old hat for everybody; there are some new kids here. So far, so good but as I’ve said to Luke, when you’re on the bench and (the score) is 2-1 and there are three minutes to go, and that’s when you are a first-time head coach and you learn a lot. Some mistakes will be made, but he’s a really smart guy and I think that he’ll learn from them.
Thanks to the support from management down to an assistant coach like Sterling, my confidence in the first-time head coach is higher than it probably should be.
That is not meant as a slight to Richardson; it's just the reality of the situation. Already tasked with learning the ropes and cutting his teeth in a league that last week's podcast guest, Kurt Kleinendorst, described as the toughest hockey league in the world to coach in, Richardson will also be responsible for the development of the organization's best prospects. (Note: Thanks to the lockout, Binghamton's roster will feature Robin Lehner and seven of the team's top ten prospects - as rated by Hockey Prospectus.)
It's a tall order and one hopes that Luke is up for it.
The hiring of a rookie head coach may eventually open the organization up to criticism, but should one or more prospects have their development stagnate, or the team suffers in the standings, Luke will probably be the one to face the brunt of the blame.
Q: Luke gets to cut his teeth as a head coach during this exhibition schedule.
A: Absolutely, you can only imagine what is going through his head. It’s his first head coaching job and he gets a chance to run a team that we think is pretty good. That is yet to be seen obviously but we think it’s pretty good. We have got a lot of young talent, we believe, down here and so, I can only imagine that he’s been thinking at 110 mph and couldn’t wait for this time to come. And certainly, when he gets on the bench for his first exhibition game, and then after that, his first regular season game, that maybe Steve (Stirling) would come in handy; reminding him of something because he is excited and thinking about things a lot. Everything is a first-time thing for him here, so I expect that he is going to do a great job but to have Steve here is going to be a tremendous for him.
Noted, Luke Richardson is one of the few retired professional hockey players who is still capable of thinking at a 110 mph rate.
Q: Will the lockout provide a bit of a silver lining for developing some of your prospects?
A: Sure, the NHL is the best league in the world, so if you’re a European coming over and you haven’t played in the American (Hockey) League and this is your first crack at it, (the AHL) is a tough league to learn in. And as much success as (Silfverberg) has had in Europe, we all know that there are going to be some nights that are going to be tough. I think to be able to do it down here, maybe a little bit out of the spotlight, certainly in a little lesser calibre of league – mistakes aren’t quite as magnified and aren’t quite as dissected the next day on TV and radio. I think it’s a great chance for him and Fredrik Claesson and all our Swedes to come down here and hopefully play without a lot of pressure but play hard because they know we’re watching and other teams are watching. But to your point, I think it’s a little easier making mistakes down here than it is certainly in the National Hockey League.
At the risk of sounding like Don Brennan and coining a number of nicknames and slogans, Silfver Linings should be adopted as Binghamton's 2012/13 slogan.
Q: Blah, blah, blah, depth, blah blah blaargh.
A: Yeah, and you know what, we were going through our lines as I’m sure every other team is, and the first thing that you notice about the league is that maybe some of the one-dimensional players are going to be eliminated a little bit because you have to get your kids and your good prospects in the lineup and your good players in the lineup. The whole lineup from top to bottom is quite a bit better, I believe. I believe your fourth line is a regular third line or even a little better in any other given year beside a lockout year. So I think the hockey is going to be a little more normal hockey, a little more NHL-style hockey. I think carrying that one-dimensional guy is going to be tough, early especially. We certainly want toughness in the lineup though, we don’t want to stray away from that. I think our top three lines are going to be offensive lines and then our fourth line is going to be somewhat of a checking line that can chip in offensively. It is a different looking team than even the year that we won it a couple of years ago, talent-wise. The talent is much higher, but that doesn’t make it a better team obviously but there is a lot of talent.
Amen to that. Hopefully we never see another cro-magnon player like Francis Lessard in a Senators jersey ever again.
Q: Is there going to be room for everyone? What are you going to do?
A: Saturday night (cut day), is going to be a hard night because you’re going to have one goalie going down for sure. You’re going to have two or three defencemen going down and up to six forwards. That’s in a perfect world with no injuries. We do have some injuries, so that D-day for some of these kids, or E-day, for East Coast (Hockey) League, is going to be delayed a little bit. That’s the hard part. These guys are down here and some of them think they are NHL players but have to play here. And certainly, most of them believe that they are at least American (Hockey) League players, so to be demoted to the East Coast (Hockey) League, it’s going to be hard on a couple of them. We just have to explain that it’s part of what we’re going through with the lockout and on the flip side of that, they have to go down there and you hope (they) have a good attitude because we’ll be watching and you know we’re going to have injuries and call-ups on a daily basis; especially with Elmira only being 40 minutes from here. It’s going to be a tough day on some kids, there’s no question for some kids who have never been through a demotion like that.
Watch out prospects! The "Big Brother" Ottawa Senators are keeping tabs on you.
Q: Is Robin Lehner starting to get it?
A: Well, it looks like it. I guess, the negative part of me would say, “Wait until something bad happens and (see) how he responds.” Obviously he’s in great shape. He stopped every puck. He made a save today that he (made going) post-to-post and reaching back with his glove that guys don’t have to do in practice and don’t normally do during practice. But, he’s in shape and he can do that now. At 235 or 240 pounds, I’m not sure that he could go hard in practice or go hard three games in three nights down here. And I think that that part of his game has improved a lot, so from that point of view, he can get in the net most nights. I don’t think we took the quotes out of him. I think he had so many good quotes in the short time here that there are none left. Thank god. He still has got a big personality and he has got a big desire to be a NHL player and we love that about him. But as you know especially, it’s how you go about it. You go about it in a way that your teammates want to play hard for you and respect you, and I think all this hunting season and all that stuff is over, I hope. He can internally think that, but it’s not what anybody wants to hear.
This is the first acknowledgement from the organization, at least to my recollection, that they were disappointed in Lehner's comments about wanting to hunt Craig Anderson down.
Q: Doni Brennan is looking to fill his Konopka’s Korner column filler, maybe Lehner can be that guy?
A: Doni Brennan on a Swede? Really? That would amaze me that he’d like a Swede or any other type of Euro.
Filip Kuba concurs.
Q: Any timetable on bringing Ben Bishop to Bingo?
A: I’m just trying to stall him as long as I can, that’s all. And it is. I’ve asked him to let us get through training camp here. It might take care of itself with an injury and it may not. We have to decide what we want to do. There are two decisions: it’s what’s best for the organization and I think what’s best for the organization is him playing. And then it’s what’s best for Robin, and we haven’t really sat down and had that conversation yet. (Bishop’s) agent says he wants to play here but we haven’t talked money or anything. I mean, we may be in the ballpark and have him here next week, but when we get into the brass tax about money and about is he the starter? Or is he one of three? Or is he one of two? Those details, when we get talking to his people about that, it may not be to their liking at all. But, I don’t know that and just generally, it looks like he wants to come down here, and we’ll just have to make it work.
Poor, poor, Nathan Lawson. That is all.
Q: Were you surprised that Erik Karlsson headed over to Finland that quickly?
A: No, I wasn’t surprised, but I didn’t talk to him about that. It was just one day at the rink, “Hello. How are you? How was your summer? Congratulations.” That’s it. I don’t know what the desire is for each individual, why certain guys go early and then other guys wait as long as they can; they would have to answer that. For some of them, I guess it’s financial and others, it’s just to play games and not have to practice, maybe. And I don’t mean that negatively, but to play games. (Karlsson’s) a young guy and I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit and wants to play, so I can’t certainly fault him for going.
Q: Has Milan Michalek been cleared to play?
A: Yeah, I believe that he’s close. I’m not sure but I think he’s quite close to signing off. When I say close, I’m talking within days but I’m not sure of the exact day.
Milan Michalek, coming overseas to a Czech league team near you.
Q: What do you think of Cody Ceci’s play thus far?
A: I thought that the one game that I saw, the team was a little bit sloppy defensively. It’s early, I’m sure they are going to work on that. That is not a talent thing… well, it is a bit of a talent thing but it’s a bit more of a systems thing. The coach can put in a different system or just tighten up his system, so that part, was average. I thought he was great in the four point game. He made plays that we know he can make. Obviously he shoots the puck like a top pro, but he made passes that night. Going forward, offensively with the puck and in the offensive zone, (he was) very positive.
It's great that his passing skills and high-end shot are his best assets but people will inevitably want to see that growth in Ceci's defensive game.
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