Thursday, May 27, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
CHICAGO Its unlike anything seen before on the hockey side of the United Center, the NHLs media elite all concentrated in one spot on the west side of Chicago, gathered for the 2010 Stanley Cup media day.
Many players enjoyed their own private interview space, up on risers and sitting at tables that looked like the NHLs answer to gear cases packed and unpacked by music roadies. Less prominent stars shared tables in the middle of the roomcase in point, Chicagos bruiser table of Adam Burish, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager.
The Blackhawks strolled out in matching, numbered black pullovers for their session at 1:15 p.m., while Philadelphia hit the tables in crossing-guard orange hoodies at 3. Here are some highlights from the days chatter:
Stan Bowman, Blackhawks GM
On acquiring Marian Hossa: More than anything, he played a style that we were trying to instill in some of our younger guys, which is he plays both ends of the ice. Weve seen that in the playoffs. Hes contributed offensively, but when you watch the game closely, you notice that he does all those little things so well. It has rubbed off on some of our younger players Im sure Joel Quenneville would agree that its not always easy to get your most skilled players to play as hard as Marian does away from the puck and coming back in his own end. So we knew if we ever had a chance to get a player like Marian, we would rally have to make a hard push.
Dustin Byfuglien, Blackhawks forward
Id like to lace em up right now and get going.
I think we match up with Philadelphia very well.
Laughing about his newfound fame: Yep, I just woke up one day and decided to go to work and become famous.
On his weight, a curious emphasis during his session: People are going to ask until Im done playing. Its kind of funny to hear all of the different numbers. Im going to let you guys keep guessing.
Marian Hossa, Blackhawks forward
When you look around at all this here today, you see everything being put under a microscope. But its still the same game.
On his goal drought: It makes me angry, but four more wins is whats most important right now.
On Media Day: Its the same thing that happens in the dressing room but now wearing a nice hoodie in comfortable seats.
On coming to the Blackhawks: When Chicago called me on the first day and talked to my agent, I had a really good feeling. I was looking to make one team my home, so I said to my agent, I think this is it.
On Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville: Q played the game and understands players. He keeps the dressing room loose, and not every coach does that. He is fired up before each game, but he never loses control. He looks pretty relaxed to me all of the time.
On taking pride in being a two-way player: I like to be speedy. Thats my game. When I have a chance to catch a player from behind, I like to steal those pucks.
Ian Laperriere, Flyers center
On the serious facial injury he suffered blocking a Paul Martin shot in Game 5 of the quarterfinals: It bruised my brain. But I was lucky. It bruised the front of my brain, which doesnt do anything. Thats the one place you want to get hit.
On his decision to adapt his game from sheer scoring: Guys who were way more talented didnt want to change. Theyre doing something else now. Not to sound arrogant, but Im 36 and still playing.
Chris Pronger, Flyers defenseman
Youre only as good as your last game. As fast as you can get a pat on the back you can get a pat on the bumand a push out the door.
If were just happy to be here, maybe we should go home.
The key to winning? Its knowing in the locker room you can win every game you go after.
At the end of the day, its just a hockey game. Youve gotta go out and find a way to win.
Im not ever done learning in this game. When youre done learning, you should probably get out of the game.
On similarities between Chicago and Philadelphia: Both teams play with an edge and play fast, without sacrificing defense.
On being the underdogs: The people who arent picking us, theres a reason theyre there and were here The pundits havent been kind to us to begin with.
On Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who coached him with the St. Louis Blues: Right from the get-go he wanted to mentor me. Hes a guy who played with a good stick. He helped my game enormously. Hes a defensemans defenseman.
Dismissing the challenge Byfuglien creates: I can go down the list of guys in this league who are pretty big.
On how to stop a player of Dustin Byfugliens size: Do you honestly think Im gonna tell you?
Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks forward
On when his game face for Saturday gets fixed on: Pretty much when this interview is over.
On the Blackhawks bad old days: It wasnt as bad as people are making it out to be.
Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks center
Its felt like the longest week ever waiting for this game on Saturday night. But were looking forward to it. Well be ready for it. Were just trying to save our energy for now and not get too jacked up.
The entire hockey world is watching this. These are the type of games you love to play in. Its a fun thing to be a part of.
We've got an entire city behind us. We feel like this is the year for us, and we're going to throw everything we can at Philadelphia."
Win those small battles and you might win the war. Thats what well focus on. Nothing to get excited about.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.