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Open Thread: Sens end-of-season media availability

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Updates and talking points from the Senators end of season press conference with the coaching staff and players.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2017-2018 regular season comes to an end, the Senators will be having their annual locker cleanout earlier than they would’ve liked to. With his future uncertain, head coach Guy Boucher will be speaking to the media around 11:20am EST, while the players will be speaking soon after.

I’ll be posting updates here as the day progresses.

UPDATE: You can watch Guy Boucher’s press conference on Sportsnet, or listen by tuning into TSN 1200. TSN 1200 will be carrying some of the player interviews afterwards; audio and video will be linked below as they become available.

Guy Boucher [audio via TSN 1200]

  • Discussed how there’s no “system”, but adjustments that are constantly being made. These adjustments (including special teams play) will need to be evaluated over the next couple of weeks — both from a tactical standpoint, and who was being used in what role.
  • “It was more difficult to have everybody on the same page this year” — I wonder why that’s the case, especially when the team tried to keep most of the roster together last offseason (though they lost Methot, MacArthur, Wingels, Stalberg) and brought in “character” in the offseason by way of Thompson and Oduya.
  • A somewhat worrying statement that the team tried to engage more offensively than last year, which may have led to them losing their identity as a “top-10 defensive team”. Although the team ranked 10th in goals against last year, primarily off of a strong save percentage from Craig Anderson, the team was in the bottom half of the league in most defensive metrics.
  • Boucher talked about being under contract another year, so he’s “trying to take as much responsibility as he can” in trying to understand what went wrong and to start discussing changes for next year with his staff. He expects there to be some changes with players. He noted that there’s a “whole list” of things he wants to do better next year as a coach.
  • Interestingly, he talked about how getting through adversity was tougher this year. “The one goal games we were winning last year, we lost this year.” Teams that often have a good record in one-goal games one year often don’t repeat it the next, suggesting that there’s a fair amount of luck rather than skill in that facet of the game.
  • Boucher expects his group to be younger next year. “There will be more mistakes but there’ll be enthusiasm too. We are definitely going to welcome that.” He brought up Mark Stone as a player who you can build around, in the sense that although he’s not fleet footed, he “thinks the game fast” and can execute quickly. Our Spencer Blake didn’t like this line from Boucher, calling into question the difference between a young group featuring Chlapik, Chabot, and White versus the more experienced Thompson, Burrows, Ceci:
  • Boucher doused any flames about in-the-room uproar, noting that he had “no issues within the room.” He liked the group’s work-ethic, and noted that they constantly cared, tried to get better, and were disappointed after every loss. “I won’t be throwing any of my players under the bus because they never gave up and never stopped working.”
  • Regarding Karlsson, Boucher noted that some elements of player personnel will be out of his control. He did say: “the best thing is that he’ll have a full, healthy off-season to get ready for next year.”

Colin White [audio via TSN 1200]

  • Noted that the exit meeting was two-way, and that he’s had an open communication channel with the organization throughout the year.
  • Breaking his wrist was hard, especially given how hard he worked in the offseason.
  • Spoke about how he played 20+ minutes a night in Belleville at the end of the year, including powerplay and penalty kill. He spoke about how it helped build his confidence heading into his final recall at the end of the year.
  • “I trusted the process and I get what they were doing for young guys. Every time I went down there, I pushed and worked harder so I could get back up there next time. With Ottawa, there’s a lot of young guys and I think we have a bright, bright future.”
  • He noted that he liked centre, but he’s comfortable at [right] wing as well. He stated that he needs to work on faceoffs at the NHL level if he wants to be a centre.
  • He says it’d be exciting to play for Team USA at the World Championships. He’d then look to take around three weeks off the ice, and then do skill work and edge work in the offseason. He’s looking to spend time split between Massachusetts and Ottawa.

Mark Stone [audio via TSN 1200]

  • “It’s been a terrible year for us. We have to find ways to learn from it and make ourselves stronger.” Bluntly talked about how, although they scored more goals than last year, they gave up too many and that was the difference.
  • His injury is a high ankle sprain; will be taking time off for it to heal. Thus, no World Championships for him this year.
  • He spoke about how he wants to be a Senator long-term and wants the team to be going in a positive direction. Called Karlsson “the best defenceman on the planet”. “You never want to lose a friend or a player of his calibre. I hope he’s back.”

Thomas Chabot [audio via TSN 1200]

  • Will be going to the World Championships; excited to play high calibre hockey, despite it extending his season.
  • His goal coming into the year was to play in Ottawa full-time. He’s satisfied with the way his individual season went, despite ups and downs.
  • He discussed how it was cool to see how everyone in the room handled adversity by sticking together until the end. “It would’ve been easy to check out and go our separate ways to do what we can to get through the year.”
  • “I’m still working on details in my own zone. For four summers straight, my goal has been to get bigger and stronger.”
  • Called Derick Brassard as someone who helped him a lot last year and this year. He stayed with Brassard last year during his nine games, and lived together until he got traded. Phaneuf, Burrows, Pageau were also mentioned, but “we have good leaders on this team. Any younger guys would tell you that the older guys welcome us really well.”
  • Talked about how he was nervous about making a mistake until around the 20-game mark. Now he feels comfortable to do what he’s always done offensively.
  • Had a fun comment on how this was the first time in his career that he had to look at his D partner [Karlsson] before jumping into the rush. “It was him who often went because he skates better than me.”

Erik Karlsson [audio via TSN 1200]

  • Karlsson first spoke about how it was tough getting motivated after what happened, and how “it wouldn’t be fair to my teammates if I went [on the last road trip of the season] in the frame of mind I was in.”
  • “My next move is to be here at home, here in Ottawa where I live and where I love to be, and spend time with my wife and my family before I deal with anything else first. I’m fortunate to have a long summer to take care of my personal life and physique and being able to come back to where I want to be professionally.”
  • “There’s always a possibility that that’s going to be the case, unfortunately [that I’ve played my last game as an Ottawa Senator]. It’s not what I hope for, and it’s not something I’m planning on having happen, but yeah there is. But with what we went through this year, there’s going to be a few changes and you know, hopefully I’m not one of them. I’m still hopeful that the puck that I picked up isn’t going to be my last.”
  • Re: where the season went wrong, Karlsson noted that it’s easy to point fingers right now. He thinks the team went through a tough period of time earlier in the year [November] that snowballed. He’s not sure why that happened, but says that it’s complex and not just one thing. It took a lot of the wind out of the team.
  • “After Christmas, I felt like I was ready to play the way I wanted to play. Unfortunately before then, I was not, and that obviously had a lot to do with why we weren’t able to get out the slump we were in. I don’t think that I played at the level I need to for this team to be successful at the time. That’s something that’s on me and I’m very disappointed about that.” Said it was the toughest year of his career personally and professionally.
  • Commends his teammates for playing hard all year. Trusts his team to be better next year.
  • Re: relationship w/ management and ownership: “It’s just very unfortunate that the season that we had came at the time where I am in my contract. That’s the business part of things. They handle theirs, I handle mine... It’s not something I’ve gone through before and it’s obviously not very pleasant, but it’s something that happens for a lot of people and not only me. We still have a lot of respect for each other. Whatever went down was unfortunately the ugly part of the business; I never took anything personally and I don’t think they did either.”
  • “I love this community, I love this organization, and I love this city. This is where I’m retiring no matter where I end up. But I do think that there’s no question in mind that this is where I’ve always wanted to be for as long as I can be.”
  • Re: seeing himself as part of a rebuilding team: “I hope that it doesn’t come to that. I do think that we’re going to need the younger guys to come in and do well. But I think the program that we do have and the guys that we have drafted are ready to step in and be full-time NHLers. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the player that they’re going to be eventually going into next year or the year after that. But I do think that we have a bright future here and I do think that there’s a possibility to win here. Whenever that is, I’m not really sure. But I do think that with the core guys that we do have and the young guys coming in, this is a team that I would love to win with at some point in the future.”
  • Re: hearing “the plan” before committing long-term: “Yeah, I think that that’s going to happen. I think that they’re going to sit down and they’re going to explain where they’re going to go with a lot of the guys, not only me; what they’re thinking and what they’re seeing. And I think that’s important for guys to know, especially after a year like this, going into the summer and coming into training camp, that you have a purpose whatever that is.”
  • Karlsson’s spending the summer here in Ottawa; “My door is always open and so is theirs.”
  • Re: financial comment with Doughty in December. “I do think that it got taken out of context... that’s the financial side and that’s the way it is. Guys these days are more concerned about it than they were in the past. That’s actually one of the things that I’m least worried about. How much, when, where. I’m going to get what I’m going to get, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

Matt Duchene [audio via TSN 1200]

  • Notes to come