With the reduction from the Sens roster from 52 to 22 players today, general manager Bryan Murray took part in a conference call to discuss the moves the team made. Among those topics were the re-assignment of Mika Zibanejad, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Stephane Da Costa, as well as the outlook for 2013-14 at-large.
Here's what he had to say...
On the re-assignment of Mika Zibanejad:
Well, performance was the main thing and always is. We felt that Da Costa and Pageau had better camps and showed they were more ready to help the team right now than Mika was and we indicated that to him. Go down and play and get the intensity of your game to where we think it has to be to help us here and we'll address the issue in the near future if it has to be addressed.
On what he wants to see from Zibanejad:
First of all we like the fact he can really skate and he can shoot the puck and we like the fact he's got a fairly good sized body. What he has to do is get involved more often around the net, more often in the forechecking to retrieve the puck. It's great when you have the puck but you've got to go get the puck sometimes and that means you have to be physically involved and mentally involved in the game to do it. We just thought that it took him a while last year to get start and, again, at camp it just looked to me like he played fine with the puck — I think he scored one goal in camp — but we just felt the other guys stepped up way above him at this point in time and he didn't do anything about it. So, go down, play, get your game going, get to the level of player we think you should be and you have to be and he'll get a chance to come back in all likelihood.
On the final roster number:
Well we have 23 it's just our 23rd player is going to start in the minors and that's Jim O'Brien. He has got a one-way contract, talking to Paul and the coaching staff here when we made the decision to have an extra forward and an extra D only, we had Jim go down and play rather than sit in the press box night after night. That's basically the approach we took. We have the 23 one-way contracts now and one guy will play now, if we have a need then we can reach and get somebody from down there and if he's playing well we'll have a real chance for that to be the case.
On if Zibanejad took his spot for granted:
I think when you let two guys come in and take your job — and we said that to him — you saw how Pageau was playing and you saw how Da Costa was playing and you didn't step up and say I better pay attention and keep my spot. We felt he let that happen. All we can do and all the coaches can do is encourage the player, give him linemates and give him opportunity in the game to go play and then we have to sit back as judges and make a determination at the end of camp and we try to do it in a very fair way. We called in Da Costa at the end of last year and said, "Wake up, if you don't get stronger and you don't work harder this summer you won't have any future as an NHL player." This guy has come in, in great shape, and worked hard and I think he's been a real good performer throughout camp. Likewise with Pageau, he just had the chance in the playoffs last year to make a mark and he came in here every day during the summer and the guy worked and is one of our better players in camp so how do you keep him off the team? If we're going to be good on our word, and that is work hard and you get a chance. That's what we do here and I thought Mika kind of sat there and maybe took it for granted, maybe he felt it was not an opportunity but he sure didn't do what we expected would happen.
On how he feels about the roster:
Well I think we have a good hockey team, we didn't score very well at the end of camp and that was a little disappointing, in particular yesterday. From what I heard about the Barrie game and what I saw in Ottawa, I thought both teams kind of played let's get it over with and get ready for the real games. I take that as I hope a good thing going forward but certainly I'd like to see us score a little bit easier or a little bit better. I think we have a good looking team, I think our goaltending and our back end should be real strong, I guess the thing as I mentioned is we'll have to wait and see is can we score enough goals? Can our best players play like best players every night?
On if Pageau surprises him anymore:
Not anymore, I mean when we brought him up last year and he played as well as he did you keep waiting for him to slip a little bit because of his size and strength and competition level but it did the opposite. He stepped up. He was probably our most productive player in training camp and every day, every practice he worked harder than most. Sometimes you wonder if he shouldn't take a day off just so he can recover a little bit, but again last night he was a guy that scored. His line was an effective line, he matched up and does a good job. I guess he has proven for this moment and, hopefully you don't write this, but he's an NHL player but now he can't let up. He's got to continue to get better and get stronger and if he does that he's going to be a very good NHL player for a long time.
On his expectations from Pageau:
Number one to play regularly, number two to be a guy the coach can rely on — in particular it looks like he's going to be a pretty good faceoff man in this league and certainly a good defensive guy. I think Paul will use him penalty killing on a good number of occasions. I'm not even going to put a number on him offensively because I'd be wrong, I know that. I just expect that he will create chance for himself to score and for the linemates he plays with. All I see out of him is a guy that really has great respect for the opportunity and works hard every shift on the ice.
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