Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers
Q: On coming to Philadelphia
“It’s a great team and that was definitely a big part of my decision. I wanted to go to a team that had a chance to win a championship this year, and maybe more than one, because you look at the youth and the moves they made lately with the new goalie and everything. I’m really excited to join the Flyers.”
Q: You’ve played so many huge games against the Flyers – what’s your impression of coming to Philadelphia?
“It’s obviously going to be really challenging. It’s such a big rivalry, obviously. A couple guys called me from the Flyers today and were just telling me what a great place it is to play in Philly. For me, leaving Pittsburgh was never easy. When we saw the negotiations with Pittsburgh were not going the right way… I played six years there and I’ve always thought of myself as a loyal guy and would have done anything for the Penguins. I thought I was going to play my whole career there. But when it was time to move, I wanted to make the right one for me and for the team I was going to go to. The Flyers, for me, I thought it was a great fit. When you look at the Flyers, you’re talking about grit, about leadership, experience, they’re one of the best organizations in the league – they were all factors for me that were really important.”
Q: Do you know Jaromir Jagr at all and do you think he’s got anything left in that tank?
“Never met the guy, I’ve heard about him. There’s a reason why there was so much interest and so much hype about him in this free-agent market – it’s because he’s a good player. I think he showed the world at the last World Championships that he can definitely play. I remember playing against him, he was one of the guys who was always the toughest to play against because he was so big, and he would just control the puck in the corner and make the right play. He’ll be a great fit for the Flyers.”
Q: At what point did you realize you weren’t going to get the deal you wanted in Pittsburgh?
“There was always a little hope. It’s always, like I said, tough to leave a town when you put so much emotion in the city and the team, but at the same time, last Thursday is when I realized that it would be really tough to make a deal, and that’s when me and my agent started looking at other options and other opportunities. That’s when I realized that I may not go back to [Pittsburgh], so I’ve got to go to bed at night and try to visualize myself in another jersey.”
Q: Was it dollars, years or both?
There were a couple of options out there for me today. I had three different factors. The first was to be able to play for a winning team and a winning organization. Leaving Pittsburgh – when you play with one of the top organizations in the league, you don’t want to go to an organization where it’s not as good. The team, the players, the chance to win was the first factor. After that, it was more security, meaning the years. Not knowing what’s going to happen, we were obviously pushing towards the years. Obviously after that, the money comes. It’s nice to see, like I said, a mix of veteran guys and youth with the trades the Flyers did lately, getting Schenn and Couturier and stuff like that. It’s a great mix, and I’m excited to go to camp.”
Q: Will it take some time for this team to blend together?
I don’t know. I was never in the Flyers locker room, but from what I’ve heard, they have a great bunch of guys, great leaders, and for us, the earlier the better. It was one of the things when I talked to Paul Holmgren today, it was about my leadership, and in Pittsburgh we were such a tight core and I was part of building that room that had been so great. One of my roles on this team is going to be to glue this team as much as I can, to bring some leadership experience in and bring what I can in the room and on the bench. I’m excited about that for sure.
Q: Do you consider yourself as a prototypical third-line center?
In Pittsburgh I played a little bit of everywhere the last three years. When I played my best hockey when we won the Cup, I was right wing on the second line. But I was center of the fourth line, the third line, I was left wing on the third line. But I don’t want to glue myself anywhere. I want to have a great role, do what I can to win, work every time I get on the ice, it’s about work ethic an to do my best to bring what I can to help win a championship.
Q: Did Paul say where he wants you to play?
I think versatility is one thing, but we haven’t talked about it. I think maybe kind of mentioned about third-line center, but there’s so many things that could happen. I feel like the team should be about performance as well. If you play well you get more, and if you don’t play as good, you don’t get as much. I’m expecting that, and if it’s a third line center I’ll be really happy and I’ll work as hard as I can to make the line work.
Q: On his penalty killing experience
“I really take pride in that. This year I was the second forward with the most ice time for the Penguins [shorthanded] and we finished ranked first in the league [in penalty kill percentage]. I’ve been playing [on the] penalty killing first and second units for six years now, and I take pride in blocking shots and avoiding goals scored against me.”
Q: Can you talk about the way negotiations progressed?
Yeah, It went really smoothly. There were four teams in the end that were interested in me, and I cut it down to two by the chance of winning and the quality of the organization, and the role I was going to have on the team. It came down to the Flyers, so I said yeah, let’s make a deal.”
Q: Do you have any Game 7 goals left in you?
“I sure hope so. That was obviously something great in my career, and I’m more than ready and willing to do it for the Philadelphia Flyers.”