The Sports Daily > The 6th Sens
Bryan Murray Addresses the Filatov Situation

This afternoon, Bryan Murray held a media scrum to update everyone on today’s Nikita Filatov happenings. As always, my comments are in bold. Enjoy.

Q: Can you update us on Filatov?

A: “Well, he’s being loaned back to Central Red Army in Russia of the KHL. After a fair amount of discussion with him, we had (to make) a determination of whether to return him to Binghamton or Russia of the KHL. His preference was to return to the KHL for the balance of the year so we made an agreement with them to have that happen.”

T6S: Translation: The CSKA loan is contingent upon the Red Army funding the purchase of a new scoreboard for SBP. (I’m kidding.)

Q: Why couldn’t he make it on this roster?

A: “Well, you maybe have to look at his case. We think he’s a very talented kid who could play some nights. Other nights, he couldn’t contribute very much. I think he has to get stronger. We know he has to get stronger and be a little more competitive. I think from a talent point of view, he can play in the league and be very successful. He’s a young player and he can go back and play there and be an important player; or so they tell me. We’ll let that happen and obviously we’ll retain his rights, so we’ll see what happens in the future.”

T6S: During the 2009 offseason, Filatov bulked up and put on some significant muscle mass. In one interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Dmitri Chesnokov, he admitted to putting on 17.63 lbs. He later complained that it made him feel heavy and negatively affected his skating. It’ll be interesting to see how seriously Filatov takes Murray’s advice.

Q: Did he do anything to shake the reputation that he had in Columbus?

A: “Oh, he cares a lot. I think whomever said that about him, the ‘he doesn’t do rebounds’ and all the mocking things that happen are totally wrong with this guy. I’ve spent the last three days spending a fair amount of time talking to (him). He just wants to be a player. He wants a chance to come back to the NHL at some point. He wants to go back rather than play in the minors and I understand that it’s a financial thing for him and his family so that’s why I’m letting it happen. If he wants, and I’ve said this to him, and it’s totally up to the player always: if he wants to be a player in the NHL and he spends some time in physical development and strength and conditioning, he can be a (NHL) player.”

T6S: The person that said that was the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline. I’m not sure why waited until he did to leak the ‘Filly don’t do rebounds’ story. I guess it’s just easier to heave excrement on a player when he’s down.

Q: Is this a question of Filatov getting his way?

A: “I don’t think this is anything about getting his way. Like every young player, they come to camp. They try and make the hockey team and we, in our judgment, put someone else ahead of him at this point and time. We talked about the consideration of Binghamton or the KHL and he has grown up with a club over there – the Red Army Club – and they called me a number of times and asked about the opportunity of getting him back for the balance of the year because of the circumstances with their club as well and I’m just letting that happen. I’ve had a number of players go back to Europe and play and come back and be pretty good players in this league and hopefully he’ll be one of them.”

T6S: It’s interesting to hear Paul MacLean’s comment that he would have preferred to have Filatov to go down to the AHL and work on his game.

Q: blah blah blah qualifying offer?

A: “Well, we won’t retain his rights if we don’t (extend him a qualifying offer) so I’m saying today that we’re going to retain his rights.”

T6S: In the off chance that someone expresses interest in Filatov moving forward, Ottawa can move his rights. It’s a smart play.

Q: What do you say to those people who feel that he didn’t get his chance?

A: “Every player has a chance. Every player, every day, whether it be in practice or in games gets his chance.  We sit in judgment of most players every day – if you’re a coach or manager and I don’t know that there’s one organization in this league that doesn’t want to have the best players on their team and give themselves the best chance to win. I say this to players all the time. If a player ever says to me ‘that a coach doesn’t like me’, the coach doesn’t like you because you haven’t earned a spot on the team.”

T6S: Like I mentioned in today’s previous post, this move fits with the team’s message of fielding the most competitive team that it can.

Q: Do you regret taking a chance on him?

A: “Absolutely not. I think it was a no-lose situation. We had this ability; we had a lot of picks. It was a good gamble and the gamble’s not over. It’s like making a trade and having to wait a couple of years for the guy to emerge into the player that you thought he was going to be. It’s the same circumstances here.”

T6S: Hopefully after the Leclaire and Filatov experiments, this puts an end to the let’s acquire as many former Blue Jackets top ten picks as we can philosophy. Sorry Derick Brassard.

Q: What could he have done better or differently?

A: “Obviously score goals. Obviously have the puck all the time. Be the star in the game. Those are the things that you want the guy to do. He wasn’t in a position all the time to do that and that’s all. We just want to see the compete level at a little higher pace. We wanted to see him get points because if he’s the type of guy that is going to play on your team, the talented kids have to play probably in the top six and produce and he wasn’t able to do that.”

T6S: Be the star? That’s setting the bar a little high…

Q: Do you see that glimmer of hope that he’ll eventually be able to get the message and raise that compete level?

A: “It’s like that young (Roman) Wick that we brought over from Switzerland last year. They play in a different level of competition than we do over here. We look for different things. They think having the puck all of the time is the way to play. We think having the puck part time and running into people once in awhile or winning battles on the wall once in awhile… It’s a learning curve and some people take longer than others. I’ve said this to many of the young European players or Russian players players that have come over. Sometimes like a Canadian or an American, they have to spend time in the minors. You have to take some time to develop. We’ve got some players on our roster who were 23 or 24 by the time they made it. When he’s 23 or 24, maybe he’ll make it.”

T6S: I mentioned this in the comment thread of today’s earlier Filatov post but by the time Filatov’s 23 or 24, a number of the other Senators prospects who project as top six forwards – ie. Noesen, Prince, Pageau, Puempel and Zibanejad – could or should be ready to contribute at the NHL level will be competing with Filatov for a job. Having undergone a moderately sized rebuild, Ottawa’s conceivably only going to get better. The materialization of this year’s roster should be the easiest to make.

Q: Goal scoring was projected to be an issue before the start of the season, to this point, it hasn’t been a problem. Has that contributed to Filatov not playing?

A: Well, I think there are issues in trying to get the best players in the lineup. That’s all we ever try to do here. There was no pressure on Paul to play him or not play him. Whether it was winning or losing, we know where we are: at this point, we want our young players to get better. We hope this is an opportunity for Filatov to get better (by playing) over in Russia.”

T6S: Bottom line is that everyone in that dressing room wants to win. If MacLean keeps putting Filatov in a top six position and the player doesn’t produce results, he risks losing the respect of the players within that room.