Before the start of their regular season tomorrow night in Binghamton against Scranton-Wilkes Barre, head coach of the B-Sens, Luke Richardson Team 1200’s The Drive to talk about his club and the start of the American Hockey League season.
I’ve only grabbed the portions of the interview that I found particularly worthwhile — ie. the information on some specific prospects, the system he’ll employ and etc.
To listen to the full interview, you can listen to the audio via the Team 1200’s Facebook page.
As always, my thoughts are in bold.
Q: Has Ben Bishop arrived yet?
A: As far as I know, I don’t know if the contract is done yet. We haven’t heard. We heard, just like anyone else, that he may be possibly coming down here.
Luke Richardson is just like the rest of us, getting news of the Bishop AHL deal from repackaged Andy Strickland reports.
Q: Is there anyone who has surprised you in camp in a positive way?
A: You know what, everyone has been impressive. I’ve been really impressed with the whole group. We have Jean-Gabriel Pageau from our local neighbours in Gatineau. He played junior there and then got traded last year and finished his career in the Q last year. He has been great. He has stepped up his offseason conditioning with a lot the guys here around Ottawa and it has really helped. He has been very poised defensively; which is kind of a surprise to me because of his age and his size. At this level, he has played in all three exhibition games and he has contributed offensively, so with the injury to Stephane Da Costa, it has given him an opportunity to start the season with us and he made a real case to make it very difficult to make any movements on him (when Da Costa gets healthy).
Will come back to this a little later on…
Simpson: Yeah, he’s an interesting guy Luke because I was kind of touting Da Costa and he didn’t end up coming to the summer camp and there were some different rumblings here and there and again, this is an opportunity for (Pageau) to move forward. Pageau has really got some lateral speed and ability that really separates him from other smaller guys who really only have the straight-ahead speed.
The hell? Rumblings about Da Costa?
A: Yeah, he’s very smart. I think working on the strength this summer, he really limits the energy that he spends every shift on skating because he is a great skater. He really can save that strength when he goes into the boards or around the boards into a battle with a big guy. I noticed that he wasn’t afraid at all. He was in there battling with some of the big guys on the other roster in the AHL that were experienced and he showed no signs of backing down or being overpowered, so that’s a great sign because he still has some upside to him to improve in the areas of strength and speed (aspects). He is just a smart hockey player and he’s a great prospect within the Ottawa organization.
Q: I haven’t heard Shane Prince’s name a lot, but that transition from junior to the NHL, how has Shane fared so far?
A: Well, unfortunately for him, he looked like he was in great shape when he came in for the testing. Unfortunately the first night in scrimmage, he was just on a backcheck, a routine backcheck, and someone was going across behind him and clipped his leg. He got an injury and has been out since the first scrimmage, so he hasn’t even been skating. He’s back in the gym now and the trainer said he was making some progression there today, so hopefully he’s back on the ice in a week or so and we’ll see how he reacts. Even in the first scrimmage, I know he made a couple nice plays. I think he had a nice assist in the first scrimmage before he got hurt. It’s unfortunate and I know he is very upset that a freak little injury happens and you get all that work in the summer, and you are looking forward to making the next step in the next level of hockey, but that’s the game. And I think that’s where we will really test peoples’ character, is the mental strength. But (Shane’s) been really great around the dressing room and very mature in just saying hello and not being really shy. I’m looking forward to him getting back on the ice.
With so much of the attention being focused on the Swedes and Cowen, it’s nice to see local junior hockey products get some recognition; especially in consideration of the players who were selected ahead of them in their draft year — Noesen, Puempel, and Zibanejad. If Pageau and Prince can turn out to be intelligent two-way players who can contribute consistently, you’ll begin to understand why Pierre Dorion was so excited to snag them in the first place.
On another note, the thing that is striking about the praise for Pageau is that by the manner in which Richardson spoke, it sounds like Pageau, at least in the eyes of the coaching staff, was a legitimate candiate to head to Elmira.
Q: Are you going to play the same system that Paul (MacLean) has? Or are you going to employ your own system?
A: I talked to Paul this summer a bit about it. I said, I’d like to try and do a lot of similar things and right away, he’s like, “You have to coach that team the way that you need to coach your team.” He was great but in saying that, I think we do have a lot of similar traits because the parent team is young and fast and exciting. We do have a few of those guys down here like Jared Cowen, Silfverberg and Stone had a little bit of flashes up there. I think some of the drills are great. Not all of the drills but some of them are very similar and the same and the philosophy is very similar because we want to be a fast and exciting team. That is the way the game should be played now. It is all about puck movement. We have a very strong defence down here. Some of the guys are bigger and stronger but they can still move the puck well, so that’s great. So, I think we can run a very similar, if not identical, style. Everybody is just a little bit different, but overall, pretty much close to the same style, so I think the transition will be much easier for players moving up. And really, that’s what it is all about – we want to have that fine line of competitiveness here to win and teach them to win and be unhappy when you lose and learn to fix things when you’re not doing them properly and you don’t have success. At the same time, you want to develop them for the parent club and for the dreams of where those players want to go.
From a personnel standpoint, if Binghamton is going to emphasize a quick, puck-moving offence, it will be fascinating to watch how much growth can manifest in Jared Cowen’s game , or whether players like Borowiecki and Gryba (a defencemen who received a wealth of praise from Kurt Kleinendorst) will standout now that they are older and are surrounded by better talent.
Q: What do you make of Darren Kramer thus far?
A: He is obviously known as a physical player that likes to get in fights and be aggressive and stand up for his teammates. But, he also did well and created room for himself out in the Western Hockey League to score some goals too. It’s a big transition for him. Unfortunately in Hershey the other night, he got a little bit of a case of whiplash and jolted his body around a bit. He’s been off the ice for a few days. He was back in the gym today so hopefully he is back on the ice soon because he is an energetic player. He is yelling and screaming in the games, talking in practice, he brings a lot of energy to the team.
The Darren Kramer Dilemma – is he as renowned for his jam as he is for his peanut butter?