There was pretty good media turnout today with all three traveling beat writers and two television crews showing up. We just got finished speaking with Brent Sutter.
One of the most significant things I thought he said was that his initial plan is to play Brian Rolston at center on the same line with Patrik Elias back at left wing. He also said that he considers Bobby Holik an “8-10 minute guy and he knows that,” which means he’ll likely center the fourth line and get some PP or PK.
Sutter also is very high on Matt Corrente, saying, "He's going to be a good player in this league."
Sutter plans to remain in New Jersey until Sunday and then will fly to Ottawa for Team Canada's junior camp, which his son, Brandon, will be taking part in.
Here’s pretty much all of what Sutter had to say. Some of it is repetitive from when I talked to him a three weeks ago. I’ll be posting it a few questions at a time, so you might have to check back a few times.
What do you get out of this camp?
“It’s my first time to see some of these kids and see where they’re at right now and then the ones that were at camp last year, see how far they came through the year from last year. For me, it’s
more just looking and watching and seeing where they’re all at.”
What did you think of the offseason moves the team made? "Obviously, they're very good moves. When you can add a Brian Rolston, a forward that can play on your top lines and be a guy that can be a quarterback on your power play, it's a signifcant transaction for you. And with Bobby (Holik), you're getting a guy that can give you eight, 10 quality minutes and take key faceoffs for you. He has the experience, obviously, and he's a big man. On top of all of that, you've got two guys that were here and both wanted to come back and are excited about being back. And, also the fact what they bring inside the dressing room and the leadership qualities they both have."
On Fedor Fedorov: "Fedor, we'll see how that plays out. He's got to show us that he can do it."
Is he your new enforcer? "It's good to see that in practice every now and then."
What are your thoughts on Sergei Brylin not coming back? "It's always hard to see a guy like that go and yet you've got to move forward. His role was his role on the team and the business aspect of it that's between (Lou Lamoriello) and Sarge and his agent. When you have player who played as long here as he did, he's been a very loyal soldier here for the franchise. Yet, I went through this on the Island. You have guys that have won Stanley Cups and at some point you've got to move on. Probably, that was the situation with Sarge. The player has to be happy in the role he has to play if he's going to play. But it's not something that I was (surprised about) because I've been through it. I saw it on the Island with players that you've got cut your ties and move forward."
Were you involved in the decision that Larry Robinson would change jobs? "That was strictly Larry's decision. We knew last year when we brought Larry on board it was a situation where Lou and I talked and I wanted someone that had some experience as a head coach and I certainly wanted to keep it inside the organization if we could and Larry was the perfect fit for that. Yet, we knew a year ago, it was kind of a year-by-year basis and it was Larry's decision that he wanted to go back into the player development part of it with our kids. That was his decision and I support it 100 percent. Larry and I talked about it. It's something that he's decided he rather do that. It's not like it was a surprise because if it was a year ago when he came on and it might have been only a year thing."
Will you add another coach? "No. Lou and I are both very comfortable with the staff we have here with Johnny (MacLean) and Tommy (Albelin). With Larry's decision, to some degree it's expanded the roles of both Tommy and Johnny and it's good for both of them. I think it was important for myself last year to have someone like Larry around. Yet, it might have been a one-year deal and that's exactly what it was. I'm obviously more comfortable in the surroundings and knowing what to expect from the league and everything like that. With Tommy and Johnny, we didn't feel the need to add another person, especially with Larry and Jacques (Laperriere) doing what they're doing (as special assignment coaches). If we ever need them, they're close by."
So, you won't have a coach watching from above? "I'm not saying that. I only talked to Tommy briefly about what my idea is going to be. Tommy might spend two periods up top and a period on the bench. Yet, I haven't really had a lot of discussions with Tommy and Johnny about it, but in the brief discussions we have had, that's certainly one option."
Do you think Lou Lamoriello will make more moves to improve the team's defense? "That's something you'll have to ask him. One thing I do know is we're better on our back end simply because we're a year more experienced with our young kids. I don't what percentage that is, but we are somewhat better back there because those kids have another year of National Hockey League play. Our power play has been improved. That was an area we needed to improve on, to have a quarterback on our power play that can really hammer the puck and Brian brings that. And he's done it for years. He did it in Boston and he's done it in Minnesota. So, we've made our back end better on our power play and in other areas of the game with everyone being more experience. Paul (Martin) being more experienced is going to be a better player. At least it should. A difference of maybe scoring another 15 or 20 goals through the season probably goes on the shoulders of your power play."
You have eight defensmen under contract who played here last year. Is there room for someone like Corrente to make the team? "Possibly. There's nothing written in stone. You still need your veteran players to perform and a kid like Corrente, we'll have to see. We'll see how camp unfold and we're hoping some of these young kids are pushing and I think he'll be one that does."
"I'll tell you what, he's going to be a good player in this league and he's going to be someone that you're going to hate to play against. What I've seen of him last year in camp and just his personality and the way he is even today, here in July, he plays for keeps out there."
Will the addition of Holik change John Madden's role? "No. Like I said, Bobby is an eight- to 10-minute guy and he knows that. Him and I have talked about it and he knows that's when he's at his best, when he can give you those top quality minutes. Johnny is still going to be a 15 to 20 minute guy, whatever it might be in a game. I don't see his role changing much from what it was last year. We gave him an opportunity last year to be more offensive without it affecting him being repsonsible playing against the top guys and he responded to that. But Bobby's signing wasn't to change John's role."
Have you talked to Rolston about his role? "Yes. He can play any position. I guess we'll see how things unfold, but I visualize at this point in time to perhaps play with Patty at center ice and Patty going back to the wing. But we'll see how comfortable they both are. That will all unfold through trianing camp and exhibition (games). The key is that we as a group we need to have a good start to the year. We have to come in and really challenge ourselves to be better because we came up short this past year and the two players we added to this team, as far as Brian and Bobby, is a real good path to be on, to add those two guys. But we've still got to go do thejobs."
Did anything you saw this morning stand out? "I've seen my first fight in practice as the coach of the New Jersey Devils (laughing)."
Did you prohibit fights in practice last year? ''No. It used to happen on a regular basis in Chicago and New York."
"It's just good to see some of these kids because I hadn't seen some of them. It's only one day, but I'll be able to see them the next couple of days and then see them again in camp."