New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow took to the airwaves yesterday to chat with Phil Esposito and Another Guy Who Is Not Phil Esposito (a.k.a. Scott Laughlin) about the Isles and their hot start to the season.
If you're like me, and the firewall at your day job is military-grade (or at least strong enough to prevent you from doing awesome things like listening to internet radio), here's a transcript of Snow's responses. He talked about the start, the free agents, the prospects, and yes, the goaltending...
On the club's 17-7 (now 18-7) start:
"Yeah we've had a good start. We've felt confident about our group from the start of training camp. We've taken our time and showed a lot of patience with some of our young prospects and drafted players. We obviously added some free agents and a couple trades since the last game in the spring last year. We're confident with our group, we just hopefully stay healthy."
On Brock Nelson's play:
"He's a good all-around player. Obviously he's a high-character kid, we drafted him a few years back-we ended up I think trading a two second-round picks, something along those lines to move into the first round. Our scouts did a great job identifying Brock. Brock's a hard worker; he works on his game every day in practice. He doesn't take a day off. It's nice to see him reap those rewards."
On the wins over Anaheim and Los Angeles during the West Coast trip:
"They were huge. We went into the last home game against Winnipeg and didn't play well, lost that game. Our first road game on that trip was in Colorado, we lost...I think it was five to nothing. It wasn't a five-zero game, it probably should've been two-nothing, maybe three-nothing. Their goalie stood on his head. Then we went into San Jose, I thought we played a great game. One of their players made a tip right on the goal line in the last 10 minutes of the game and we played well from that point on.
"It's nice to see us go into Anaheim and L.A., two tough places for any team to go into and win hockey games, so that was a big point in our season so far. We know we have a lot of games left here to play. We're just focusing on the process."
On trading for Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy:
"It's something we had been working on through the summer. I had a feeling it wasn't going to happen until probably the end of training camp or before the season. I think that everyone recognized that both Chicago and Boston had cap issues. I know there were several teams in on both players; we didn't know if we were going to get one of them, two of them, or none of them. We got lucky and we were happy to add them into our group."
On Jaroslav Halak's performance in November, the goaltending acquisitions in general:
"It was one area that we wanted to address in the offseason. In Jaro's case, we traded for his rights-a fourth-round draft pick to Washington-and within a month, I think, we signed a four-year extension with him; Chad Johnson we signed on July 1. We're happy with where our goaltending is at.
"Jaro's in that type of zone right now where he's seeing the puck really well. He's another guy who works hard in practice, really works on his game. You don't really need to communicate much to him; he's a cagey veteran, he's had a history of success in St. Louis and obviously Montreal with the playoff run. We were happy to add both Jaro and Chad to our team."
On the [gloriously unsponsored] Nassau Coliseum:
Esposito noted that he'd been to the Coliseum recently and it was "nice."
"You probably didn't go on the concourse to get a beer or use the restroom ... It's a great place to watch a game. Obviously, it's a 43-year-old building and things probably haven't changed much since the first time you [Esposito] probably played in the Coliseum ...
"Our fans have done a great job of really embracing this last season and bringing a lot of energy. You see a lot of quotes from our players and our coaches how during maybe a lull during the game where they [the fans] bring that energy and really have helped us to a pretty solid home record. We're looking to make this a special season in the last season at the Coliseum here. Our fans have been great."
On Barclays Center: Have they been there? Practiced there?
"We've practiced there, we've played two preseason games. It's a beautiful facility, obviously, a billion-dollar facility. For us, it's a new opportunity to create revenue. It's too bad it couldn't happen here in Nassau County. I know Charles Wang, our owner, tried every which way to make it happen but for reasons that were out of his control, it didn't happen. We're just happy that we're staying in the area even though it's 25 miles [west] of the Coliseum."
On the future plans for the [as of now, still gloriously unsponsored] Nassau Coliseum:
"Right now the plan is to renovate it into a smaller venue-whether it's 12,000 [seats], 13,000, I'm not sure-it's going to be a scaled-down version of what an NHL arena would be."
On Michael Grabner's progress:
"He's very close. He's been skating in practice with the team now for a couple weeks. This has been kind of like his training camp because he missed so much time. I don't have a crystal ball as to when he'll get back in; I know he's pretty close. I think the coaches are pretty satisfied or getting satisfied with his conditioning level. It's one thing to get healthy, physically. It's a different ball game when you're talking about conditioning, using a training camp and practicing on a day-to-day basis to get to that level. He's pretty close. He should be in the lineup soon, I would think."
Note: Grabner was activated from IR on Wednesday as part of a series of roster moves.
On the deep lineup, guys earning their spots:
"That's a great thing. Any time you have competition for playing time, it's a healthy environment. I think Michael Grabner will really help us, especially in the penalty killing area. I don't think people realize how effective he is on the penalty kill, whether it's closing in on the opposing team's power play, limiting their time and space. And obviously with his speed it's always a threat. We're looking forward to getting him back when he's a hundred percent."
On John Tavares:
"He's obviously a special player in this league. Not just on the ice but his presence off the ice, another guy who really drives the pace in practice. We're really happy with the group that we have and, knock on wood, we stay healthy and keep this ball rolling."
On Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang:
"With Michael, when we selected him fifth overall, we had really good reports on him and our scouts really liked his ability to play a two-way game. Obviously he has a knack for putting the puck in the net. With Josh, we see a highly skilled hockey player. The reasons he was left off [of Team Canada's junior camp roster]?
"I don't know; I don't manage that team. We were happy with both players coming out of that draft. We thought it was an excellent draft, organizationally. We don't put too much effort or waste too much energy on why a player is on a national team or not on a national team. We're not there day to day so we don't really waste too much energy on things like that."
On feeling vindicated as a GM by the team's strong start:
"Honestly Scott, I really don't pay much attention to what the media says. [Ed. note: unless they're shitting on him, in which case: HATE ON, HATERZZZ.] In a nice way, I really don't care. The people that may think you are doing a great job were the ones that were bashing you. I don't listen one way or another, I just know we have a good team. We have a team that can win on any given night if we play the right way.
"That's really all the energy that we, as a staff, focus on. We don't worry about the outside influences. We know we have a great organization led by Charles. We have a great fan base who you're really seeing bring the energy. And obviously, our players are the ones carrying the mail. That's all we really focus on; we don't really focus on much else."