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Islanders Interviews: Ladd, Cizikas and Gionta on confidence, coaching change

In the words of Bert Convy, the password is: “confidence”

Cizikas Gionta
Thanks for joining us, guys.

Just like Rocky Balboa after he finally beat Apollo Creed for the championship, when you win, everybody wants a piece of you. So following a pretty huge TKO of their regional rival, the Islanders were popular guys for a couple of the NHL’s media arms.

In both, the selected players talked about the difference in playing under Doug Weight instead of Jack Capuano, and came back to the same word: “antidisestablishmentarianism.” No, I’m kidding.

The word was, “confidence.”

Right after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Rangers in which he scored twice, Andrew Ladd talked to NHL Tonight’s GLADOS-style arena cam about the team’s run and the spark (six goals, two assists in 11 games) that he’s experienced in particular under Weight. He didn’t hesitate on the answer:

I think just getting some confidence. I think just knowing what Dougie wants, he wants all of us to go out and play with confidence and put a few in the back of the net. He’s just trying to build on that.

Even when asked about any change in tactics under the new coach, Ladd reiterated that’s more about a different messenger imbuing the players with a different attitude.

And then I just think it’s just a new voice. A lot of the guys in this room have had Jack for a long time and any time you’ve had a coaching change you know guys sit up straight and there’s a new voice and it gives some new breath at times. So Dougie’s come in and he’s done a great job of laying everything out for us, being positive, trying to preach playing with confidence from our end out and with speed and I think we’ve done that.

Ladd also talked about what’s impressed him about John Tavares and he said it’s the extra work he puts in after practice at the gym. Yeah, dude. We knew that a long time ago.

Later in the afternoon, Casey Cizikas and Stephen Gionta stopped by the NHL Network studio to talk to NHL Now about basically the same stuff Ladd was asked about.

Both players also mentioned confidence, and added Weight’s decades of NHL experience as another important factor.

Gionta: Accountability. The guys know we’re playing for each other. Dougie’s been there, he’s been around, he knows the game and when he talks,guys are listening. That’s the biggest thing.

Cizikas: The confidence and believability [sic] he has in the guys. Every single day, he’s telling guys to do what’s made them successful and gotten them to this level. He’s holding them accountable but he’s also giving guys a little longer a leash. But when it comes down to the right play, he’s making sure guys are doing the right thing out there.

When joking about Weight going bananas over a failed challenge of a Rangers goal, Gionta added that the coach is, “emotional like the rest of us, he’s played the game.”

The experience part came in later when Cizikas was asked what the most important thing Weight’s brought with him.

Cizikas: I think it’s the experience Dougie has. He’s won a Stanley Cup, he’s played in over a thousand games, he’s had over a thousand points. His resume speaks for itself. So when he speaks, every guy in the room’s listening.

Gionta agreed, saying it’s great to “pick [Weight’s] brain and run ideas off each other.”

The pair also talk about who their best and worst dressed teammates are, try to spell the team’s longest name and bomb on some Islanders trivia questions. We need to get Mick Vukota to hang out at Barclays Center more.

As a lowly basement blogger (although I’m currently in my living room writing this), I don’t think Weight is casting some kind of magic spell over his team granting them all a buff in their confidence (or their intelligence, constitution, dexterity or any other D&D attributes).

For years, Capuano was fond of wanting his team to play with “swaggah,” which is Rhode Island speak for confidence. But so far, for those same players, it seems the difference is Weight’s history and voice carrying a lot of...

What’s the word I’m looking for here? “Heft?” Nah. “Substance?” No, that’s not it. Oh right.


BONUS! Gionta talks about that sweet set-up on Ladd’s first goal against the Rangers.