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Dave Lewis Press Conference Transcript

Thursday, 06.29.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Dave Lewis Press Conference Transcript
Heidi Holland: Thank you for coming today everyone. At our table today will be Bruins new head coach Dave Lewis and incoming General Manager Peter Chiarelli. We will open with a few remarks from both Peter and Dave and then open it for questions. As usual, if you could please raise your hand when you have a question and make sure that either Ryan or myself give you a wireless microphone so we can hear your questions.

Peter will open the press conference.

Peter Chiarelli: Thank you Heidi. This interview process was a very enlightening process for me. I was fortunate to be able to interview five excellent candidates. All of whom had some very admirable qualities and characteristics for a head coaching position. In the end, I chose Dave Lewis for a variety of reasons.

Dave, first and foremost, was the reason that we shared many common objectives with the ultimate goal of having this team return to its winning tradition. Dave is a highly motivated, team-focused, and seasoned NHL coach with over thirty years of solid experience from both a player and a management perspective.

As the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, he guided that team to two Division Championships and one Presidents Trophy. As an assistant and an associate coach of the Detroit Red Wings, he was part of a team that won three Stanley Cups, nine Division Championships and three President Trophies. Dave has a passion for the game and at the same time, he is a student of the game.

It is my great pleasure to introduce the new coach of the Boston Bruins, Dave Lewis.

Dave Lewis: Thank you very much, Peter. It’s a great honor to be sitting here as the new coach of the Boston Bruins. It is such a great franchise with great history and great people. Walking into the building here, seeing the pictures on the wall, the tremendous history - it’s an opportunity for me to grow with the team.

I’ll put it this way, this is a great day, but I hope this is not the best day I have as the head coach of the Boston Bruins. The franchise has gone through some change recently, as you all know. The vision, and talking to Peter through the interview process, the goals are the same. I think the dream is the same. I’m a big believer in leadership, leadership in the room, leadership with the staff and everyone working together as a group to be successful. It’s an opportunity to do that, here in this city.

I don’t want to say an awful lot. I’ll answer questions, but I’m also a believer in “show me.” If you say you’re a leader, you don’t have to tell me. I will find out. Same actions apply on the ice. Once you put the jersey on, there’s no place to hide, everybody watches you once you step on that ice. That is the one great thing about this sport. If you say you’re a great, skilled player, well, show me. If you’re a character guy, show me. If you’re a tough guy, show me. If the goaltender’s going to make saves and it’s that kind of goaltender that’ll make big saves, show me. So, that’s sort of where I’m coming from.

I had the great opportunity in Detroit to work with some great players, and great leaders - hall of fame people. I’m hoping I can bring all that knowledge over the past twenty years and the success that I have had individually and collectively as a group, to this franchise.

Question: Dave, in the number of games that you pro scouted this past season, how big of an impact do you think of what you learned watching the team play, and having opinions about players and how they were coached, influence you getting this job?

Dave Lewis: I don’t think any of that influenced it. I never evaluated the coaches at all. When you’re a pro scout, you evaluate players and how they fit in and how they perform the night your there. So, that’s probably not a factor at all.

Question: Along those same lines, what did you think of the players you saw and the way they played?

Dave Lewis: Well, I saw the team early on in the season and then I saw the team play later on in the season, so there was a tremendous transition of the team. Then, there were some injuries, guys fell by the waist side, goaltenders got hurt, a free agent centerman getting hurt, and the big trade. The team went through a radical transition in that short time frame, so of the players I saw, there’s a strong nucleus of high skill.

I’m trying to research some of their character. I’ve talked to Peter about that and some of the other people who have worked with some of these players on a younger level. There’s some definite strong character there. People you want to associate yourself with, which are all good signs. There’s a defense core, which has also gone through transitions. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just what happens in this industry. So what you try to do now is see where everyone fits. As a coach, it is my responsibility to put a player in a position where he feels comfortable whether he is a 20-year-old player or a 40-year-old player and that’s up to me.

Question: Dave, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you plan to round out your staff? What your plans are in terms of assistants?

Dave Lewis: Well, I’ve done some interviewing, just some casual interviewing of course. It’s been a pretty rapid acceleration for me to get this position so it’s an on going process. I’m talking to some people and you will know probably sooner than later about some decisions that will be made.

Question: Dave, can you help us with the “show me” factor with regards to what you hope to bring to the team?

Dave Lewis: I want players that are hard to play against. And when I say that, it could be a highly skilled player that’s a non-physical player, but he’s dangerous. He can score goals, he can make plays, and he can beat you in a split second. I want players who compete for ice time, I want players to compete against opponents, and I want goaltenders to make the saves there supposed to make. I’m a big believer in attacking as a group and defending as a group. When you don’t have the puck, you’re playing defense; when you have the puck, you’re attacking. In today’s game, as you all saw, you can have the speed, the attacking of the net, and yet you can play physical. So there are a lot of different factors. When I say hard to play against, it could be a centerman winning an important face off at an important time of the game. I like guys like that, because I’ve seen that work.

Question: Coach, what are you looking forward to coming into this season? What do you hope the administration does to bring in some new players in the off-season?

Dave Lewis: Well, there’s going to be a learning curve for myself and the coaches and the players. That’s why you have training camp. I’m going to start making phone calls to talk to some of the players that I’ve never met, which is most of them. I want to find out where they are at as far as conditioning goes and as far as their attitude is toward coming back to a new environment and looking forward to a positive season.

It’s our job as coaches to get the system in place at training camp for the players. Then the growing curve begins and I don’t know how long that will be. Implementing that and finding out where players actually fit. There will be players that are growing, there will be players that will be probably starting at one level and probably going down a level, but that’s the transition of a season and a new staff and a new group of guys. I haven’t literally counted the guys that were on the roster last year compared to the guys who will be on the opening roster this year, but it will be more than a couple.

Question: Dave, with not having coached last year and also with the lockout, when you were scouting games last year did you sort of find yourself coaching in the back of your head?

Dave Lewis: That’s a good question. The first 15 or 20 games I started scouting with the Red Wings, I started looking at face-off chances and what kind of power plays teams had and that’s not what I was supposed to be doing as far as my job description, so I refocused and got to a stage where I just evaluated.

As a coach, you are emotionally involved in the game, and specifically if your team is playing. You are also involved if you're watching an opponent who you want to lose or just if you are playing them the next night.

But as a scout, I got to see the development of the new rules and how the referees sort of progressed during the season. I got to see how the players adjusted and how the players and coaches adjusted to defensive zone containment, rather than use the stick. It’s a different body position now and the importances of positional play. Particularly now how you can’t reach out and grab the bodies of players. That has to be the number one thing.

That’s another thing I’m a big believer in -- positional play. I got that from Al Arbour, who used to coach the Islanders and he won four Stanley Cups. He just wanted me to take the best position possible and if I did take the best position possible, that means whom ever has the puck is in the second best position. That’s sort of a theme that I’ve grown with since I retired. I have transferred that to players and that’s going to be one of the themes here, to take the best ice.

Question: Dave, along with the success Scotty Bowman had, what are some of the things you’ve taken from him and tried to adapt to your style?

Dave Lewis: He was the one I actually learned how to coach with. I coached with Jacques Demers and Bryan Murray, but Scotty was the one I learned from. He looks at the game kind of different. One of the first times on the bench with him during a game in the early years, we would be watching here with the other coaches and players and Scotty is watching somewhere else. He’s not watching the puck. He’s watching the back checker and where he’s going and how hard he’s working. So, his perspective is a lot different than any coaches I’ve been around. He’s also not afraid to try something either. I remember him talking to Barry Smith and he told him he can try whatever he wanted, as long as it worked. I could tell you some funny stories about Scotty as well, but I don’t think this is the right place.

He has a tremendous bench presence and he rewarded players with ice time. That’s how he communicated with people. He might not talk to you for a long time, but if you were important in a situation, you knew it, he knew it, your teammates knew it and that’s one of the insights he had that was one of his strengths.

Question: Dave, in your years as a head coach in Detroit, what did you gain out of that experience and what will you bring to this job that you learned in those two years?

Dave Lewis: I’m a better coach now than I was then. I guess you learn a lot about yourself because every decision you make has a consequence. As an associate coach or an assistant coach, you’re more in tune with the development. You’re more in tune with the players and the actions during practice, you’re prepping for practices, you’re prepping for games. Now, as a head coach, you are standing behind the bench and your decisions of who's on the ice and when there on the ice have tremendous consequences on the outcome of the game. The head coach influences all the players one on one, their attitude, and the overall philosophy of the team. They take what they want and what they believe in, but the head coach influences that in a real positive way. I guess all those things in that transferring from being an assistant coach, to being a head coach and yet utilizing the same philosophy. To be honest with you, it wasn’t an easy job taking over for Scotty.

Question: Dave, you mentioned the coaches that you coached under and they're all pretty different styles. I’m wondering how you would describe your coaching style?

Dave Lewis: I guess I would be described as a player’s coach. I like to treat players with respect. They don’t have to like me. I’m not afraid to bench guys. I did that in Detroit. I’m not afraid to have confrontations with them either. I want them to be successful. I want them to, for lack of a better term, take the orange and squeeze the juice and make sure all the juice is out before it is thrown away. As a coach, you hate to see a player not maximize their career, because careers are short. I also believe in communication and the respect factor and the respect comes with the way we are both treating each other.

Players are really intelligent people and they can read through any kind of B.S. really quick, so I will try to present the things that have worked for me as a player and for me as a coach.

Question: This question is for Peter. From a hypothetical view, how much of your decision about Dave had to do with attracting people? I mean his credentials are so strong that I would think, it would be enticing for good players to want to come here?

Peter Chiarelli: That’s part of the equation. There are many other important variables as well, but that’s part of the equation. Dave was an outstanding interview and there was a connection there. He’s passionate and a he’s a real student of the game. So I think it’s just by him having those characteristics it will attract, but it’s not the biggest factor.

Question: Dave, as a player, coach, or scout - I’m sorry if I don’t know what your leaving position in Detroit is, but the fact that you are here now after all those years there, what was that like?

Dave Lewis: I am a former pro scout of the Detroit Red Wings. I had an unbelievable experience in Detroit. As a player, there are certain goals you want to reach and as a coach you want to reach and I’ll reflect back little bit. Back when I played for the New York Islanders, I got traded in 1980 and that team went on to win four Stanley Cups. It took me 17 years later, staying in the game somehow to try and win a Stanley Cup and I won 1,2, and 3. Now my goal is like I said earlier, I hope this isn’t the best day we have together up here. It may be naïve, but I reflect back to Al Arbour again and he took over the Islanders in 1973 and the team had 18 wins or 16 wins or something.

Question: Dave, can you talk about the differences in taking a team in transition as opposed to last time you were a Stanley Cup Champion.

Dave Lewis: I’m sure the egos will be a little different. It’s going to be fun. Part of me is that I like to work with people and I like to see the best of them. Whether it’s talking to the media, their eating habits, whether it’s the pressure of performance. All the failures you go through and how you respond to a loss? My expectation will be the same when they get on the ice. I expect players to perform at the highest level, and I understand the travel schedules are a factor, but that’s the nature of the game. When you get on the ice and put that uniform on you're not just carrying it for you, you’re carrying it for a city and for all the fans across North America and the world.

That’s what you represent and you better perform at your best. You don’t always have great nights but you can work hard and try your best to do your best.

Question: Dave, could you speak of what your expectations are with this season coming up with the team?

Dave Lewis: I guess the first thing I would like to see is how we bond and how we become a team, rather than a group of individuals. That’s going to take some time to establish. The big thing I would like to see is supporting each other in the worst of times, not just the best of times. That’s with the wives, the training staff, their families - it’s everybody, not just the coaches, players, and management. It’s everyone. I’ve seen it and it’s hard enough to win when everybody’s on the same page. It’s impossible to win if there are any divisions or separations. Also the typical things, you win games on defensive hockey, protecting leads and keeping the goals against down. Special teams, power play, penalty kill are all things that win you games. That’s no secret. There are 30 coaches in the league that will tell you that. Those are areas on the ice you have to concentrate on. The other areas are more of intrinsic off the ice issues.

Question: Peter, can you go through the length of time from when you took over as G.M. and the entire interview process to reach your decision for Dave? Also, the time from when you interviewed Mike Sullivan to when you dismissed him?

Peter Chiarelli: You want exact chronology there? This process was a tough one for me because I was only allowed to interview candidates for a long time after business hours in Ottawa. I was doing my business for Ottawa and trying to arrange this for after hours, so that was hard for me. It was only until this past weekend in Vancouver where John Muckler allowed me to interview candidates in Vancouver, which made it a lot easier. It took a long time, I understand that, and I empathize with the other candidates and I appreciate they gave me time to interview them. But those are the cards that I was dealt with.

Question: Dave, because of the unique situation where Peter can’t take over until July 15, with free agency starting on the first, do you think perhaps more than other coaches you might play a major role in recruitment over those first few weeks?

Dave Lewis: No. The management team here is fine. I never discussed that before and I don’t expect it to be discussed. We talked about players already, so that may happen more, but nothing more than that.

Question: Dave, free agency begins Saturday, do you expect to be here for that part of the process and be with Jeff when that opens up at noon?

Dave Lewis: No discussion on that, so no, but I’m as close as a cell phone though.

Question: Going back to the assistant coaching, can you give us an idea on what you're looking for here?

Dave Lewis: Well, I like working with defensemen. I would like to hire someone who is keen, eager, and hungry and someone who has a good feel for the game. Someone who has good communication with players, a good “X’s and O’s” guy, and has some experience at a high level. I will try to put together a coaching staff that is second to none in the league, so that’s sort of the type of people I like. Everybody brings a sort of different element to the table. I don’t want anyone who’s just like me because that’s not good. I’m not afraid of conflicts and arguments with the coaches. I think that’s healthy. I want someone who falls into the group of the coaching family and has character, and cares about not just himself, but cares about the players. When you’re a coach, especially an assistant, you sacrifice a lot. You sacrifice home life, some of the glory, and the players develop.

Question: Peter, can you be more specific about the vision you shared and also how that may contribute to the upcoming free agency in terms of needs?

Peter Chiarelli: Dave, as part of the Detroit organization, there are a lot of similarities to the Ottawa organization as far as types of players, as far as communicating from top to the bottom, and as far as accountability. Well with respect to free agency and Dave, he is the coach of our team now and he’s part of our organization, and I expect potential free agents will see that as a positive thing moving forward.

Question: Dave, how do you feel about goaltending coaches in general and do you plan on hiring one?

Dave Lewis: Goaltending coaches are very important. I think that goaltending is a unique position. I do not know a lot about goaltending other than the goalie stopping the puck or not. I mean you can talk about where they are in the crease or how they react. There are so many things that happen that most lay people or coaches don’t understand unless you’ve really played that position. We’ve had no conversations at all. I think Bob Essensa is the coach now. We haven’t had any conversations at all.

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