Guy Boucher was at the podium for 19 minutes on Friday answering all the questions the media could throw at him. You can find the full-length video here.
But if you don’t have time for that, below, we’ve transcribed the best of his media availability.
“Some told me it was very, very high pace (today). For me, I want a high pace every day. I don’t do soft practices or flow drills with no purpose. For me, they’re always drills with purpose and they’re always hard, so if we have a morning skate, it’ll be a hard, short morning skate. The practices, for me, are all always about habits. It’s where habits have to be that we’re full-out, full speed, execute at the top speed possible, and it’s a first-on-puck mentality, so the guys were showing that this morning. Is it enough? It’ll rarely be enough for me, so we want to grow; I want to be satisfied. After the practice we had a group that I thought had practiced real hard and the other group, not as hard, good, but not as hard. So we had a talk and they came out and we had a good game.”
On the culture of the team going forward:
“I’m a strong believer that culture is basically a brainwash. You don’t just say ‘this is our culture.’ Yeah, but what is you culture? What is it based on? What are the key words? What do you want to focus on daily? What we’ve added is basically things that we’re going to talk about all the time, things that the players have to be reminded of. You guys were in the (locker) room. I mean, ‘speed’ is written all over the room. So, that’s what I’m about. I’m obsessed by speed. Everything has to be done full-speed. We’ve got to gain fractions of seconds every month so that when we get to the playoffs, we’re ready. Because it’s only the teams that can play at a high pace, especially now, that’s what the NHL’s all about. You know, we hear ‘we like big guys’ and this and that. But the NHL is about speed. If you’ve got a big guy with speed, that’s outstanding, but you want speed first and foremost because now it’s about puck retrieval, puck transition and whether it’s breakout, transition, offensive zone, transitioning from offense to defense, it’s how quick you can make those transitions. For me, it’s speed, speed, speed, speed.”
“For me, the defensive zone is not something that you isolate. It’s something that usually develops from your o-zone, your neutral zone, your backcheck, and how you defend before you get to your defensive zone. So first and foremost, let’s have less defensive zone because what I’ve found is that there are a lot of gaps that can be controlled. The way I coach, I like to defend before we get to our zone as much as we can. And the D are going to be very involved, and offensively, but defensively very active, very aggressive. But the only way you get that is (getting) your third forward to be very aware and be there for the defenseman to be aggressive. Then once you get to the d-zone, the double-ups for me are very often the problem. Two guys trying to do the same job, which open up holes and seams that shouldn’t be there. We want to be first on the puck, we want to make sure we defend before our blue line, so that takes away a good part of the d-zone. But once we’re in the d-zone, before we double-up, there needs to be a battle and we need to protect the inside.”
On the defense:
“I like our defensive corps. When you look at our guys, we clearly have a top four, which is not the case for every team... the pairings we’re looking at are Ceci and Phaneuf, Methot and Karlsson, and then after that it’s wide open for who’s going to be with who. We’ve obviously got Borowiecki and Wideman who are two different styles, lefty and righty. And then there’s a whole bunch of guys that are fighting for the next spot. Whether we take one more or we take two more it’s always going to be about ‘are they ready?’ See, the thing, the message yesterday was clear. We are not giving anybody anything. You did well last year, it makes no difference to me. Who are you today? You had a bad year last year? It makes no difference to me. Who are you today? You’re a first-round pick or you’re a sixth-round pick or you’ve never been drafted, what are you doing now, here, today? You’re not ready? You’re not going to stay. You’re ready? I don’t care if you’re 18-years-old, you stay.”
On philosophy at training camp:
“It’s wide open for guys that are ready. But again, it is not a development league. And I know, I was a fan too, and you want to see new guys, some new candy, you want to see some young guys, but you want to make sure that the young guys you keep are ready, because if they’re not, you very often hurt them, rather than help them. You put them in situations they can’t manage, and then they go way down before you pick them back up, and it takes years, and I’ve lived it before. On the other side, you don’t want to hold a guy back that’s ready, so if he’s 18, 19; in junior it’s the same thing. I had Couturier who was 15-years-old and we kept him and he played against the first lines are year long. In Tampa, we kept four guys my first year that weren’t supposed to make the team, and they took somebody’s job because they were ready. That’s my philosophy, and I know that’s Pierre’s philosophy. We want it to be a deserving culture.”
On the coaching staff’s duties/analytics:
“Marc (Crawford) is going to take care of the D, he’s going to have a lot to say with the penalty kill. I’ll take care of the forwards, Marty (Raymond) will be with the forwards, also. I’ll take care of the power play and Marty’s going to be helping me, just like Rob Cookson’s going to be helping Marc with the penalty kill. And also, Rob is terrific at being an eye in the sky, like, he’s outstanding at looking and pre-scouting and X’s and O’s and he’s really good, also, on the analytics side. We’ve developed an analytics department, more in-depth this year. The fact that you have Rob, who’s able to translate all that information and all those numbers into something that’s tangible for us as coaches, because when you sit down and look at stats, for me, they’ve got to mean something over time. The stats about last game, for me, it’s a small portion of what I’m looking at. I’m looking at the big picture. Over five games, ten games, what kind of tendencies do we have that are good, and with the ones that are not good, what do we need to change? It’s tendencies, it’s not yesterday. And also, with stats I’ve learned you’ve got to watch out, because they’re the past. So, a guy might’ve had three bad games, but if you don’t give him a chance to bounce from that, and he feels that you’re already staying in the past, well, he’s not moving forward. So it’s our job as coaches and as an organization to give our guys a chance to move forward and develop, bounce back and bad moments or average moments in their season.”
On Thomas Chabot:
“I knew he was a good player, I’d seen him play before. But right now, he’s done better than I expected. I think in the first practices he was more tentative, but the minute we got into games in the rookie camp, there, you could see his level of play. He’s used to playing at a high level, he thinks fast, he’s got great speed, he’s a great puck retriever, so that’s obviously what everybody’s looking for right now. Is he ready? He’ll show us. But I like him, I definitely like him. I think that’s a terrific pick for a first-round pick, but like I said, he needs to show us that he’s better than the guys we’ve got, because we’re not going to give him anything.”