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March 24, 2019
Jacques Martin Conference Call
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think we appreciate our fans a great deal, but I think from a management standpoint, you can't manage your franchise or your hockey team according to the fans. I think we have people that evaluate our team on a daily basis. The last couple years we've tried to build a team that would put this franchise in the playoffs moving forward, and we evaluate areas that we need to improve, and when you get into a trading deadline like next week, you probably look to improve your club for the stretch drive if you can, or at the same time, I think we like our hockey club. We think our hockey club has grown a great deal since last summer. We've made a lot of moves in the off-season, a lot of acquisition, and we feel that our team is improving as the season is moving along.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think it's clear that our priority for this franchise at this point in time is to make the playoffs this year. I think we're in the process of evaluating what's available for Jay Bouwmeester, and come March 4th a decision will be made whether we move forward with Jay on our team or if I feel that I can get something that makes us a better club, then the possibility of moving him. But I think the priority for us right now is to move forward to improve our club, to make the playoffs this year, and I don't want to disturb that.
So depending on what's available, if it's a good transition, if we feel we can improve certain areas of our hockey club, then that would be a possibility. But I think there's also a possibility that we retain Jay, then we see where we're at after the season.
JACQUES MARTIN: Yeah, I think as I stated in my first sentence -- when I made the fact that I want our club to improve. If we trade Jay Bouwmeester, we need to have somebody in return to help our club going down the stretch.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, there's no doubt, the last couple years it's been extremely competitive. I think since the lockout, since we've gone to three-point games, it seems like a lot more teams stay in the race, and you're looking at requiring 92, 94 or 96 points to make the playoffs. I think it's great for the fans, and I think that we've just got to keep improving and keep the pace that we've had since probably December 1st. If we keep that pace, that should put us in the playoffs.
JACQUES MARTIN: Yeah, I think it's unfortunate. I think Tom is an excellent coach. He's done a great job in New York when you look at that franchise.
Now, it's difficult for me to make comments. I'm not close to their situation. It is a very competitive field, and I think that it's also very important as an organization to work -- to be on the same page, general manager and coach, and work very closely. I think we've had teams that have had changes lately; Pittsburgh have had changes, Ottawa has had changes; so it's always unfortunate because I think most individuals coaching in the National Hockey League are great individuals and are very knowledgeable.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, it seems like every year you have a lot of changes. Whether it's because of the competitiveness, I'm not sure. I think when you look at some of the best organizations, depending on the philosophy of the organization -- I mean, you look at the Buffalo Sabres, they've had a lot of consistency there with Lindy Ruff; you look at Nashville, they've had the same coach; you look at the Red Wings. So it depends on the philosophy of the organization.
JACQUES MARTIN: It's difficult to predict. You would think because of the parity, especially in the Western Conference, it's hard to predict that teams would be sellers at this time. I think there's very few teams, probably a little more in the east, but who knows. I think teams are trying to improve their club, but I think it's obvious as a league we're probably getting more and more towards like football where the team that you've built in the off season is the team that carries you through the season.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think trade talks are continuous with general managers. I think you're always looking to improve your hockey club. But I think what's becoming more and more of a factor is the cap, and you're seeing more and more trades now where money is a factor. A lot of times you're trading bodies, and you have to make money fit. So that's a factor that has to be -- enter into the solution.
JACQUES MARTIN: I don't know how much belief. I think that what's important is to look at all our options, and whether he signs between the trading deadline or not, I think that we're investigating to see what's available for him, and we'll make the decision in due time.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think it depends on the situation. I think we have to see whether we have a deal in place, and then we would make that decision.
JACQUES MARTIN: I've talked contract with him on a continual basis. I think that we've kept the communication fairly open.
JACQUES MARTIN: I don't think the negotiation with Jay is for public knowledge. I think you have to respect the privacy between a club and the individual agent, so I don't think I'm in the liberty of talking about our negotiations. I think negotiations have been good, but I think that's something that I don't want to do on the public table. It's no different than any other players; I think when you're talking about negotiation, I think that should be done on a private basis.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think first of all, it's important to get somebody that's going to fit into the chemistry. I think that we have a great chemistry as a team. I think we have a good balance of young players versus veteran players. I think that we've improved our defense a great deal over the last three seasons. I think when you look at the mobility of our back end, you look at the production, I think we're still No. 1 from getting some production from the defense.
I think if there was any areas that we would like maybe to improve, it would be maybe at the center position. I think that's something that if we could improve, or even the depth of our forwards, that would be something we would look at.
JACQUES MARTIN: Regarding Jay, I think I've been in continual contact with general managers. We've talked about Jay with certain teams, no different than any other top players on our hockey club.
JACQUES MARTIN: I think, as I said before, I think you have to respect the privacy of the player and the privacy of the organization, and I think we've had several communications, several talks in the last season, and I think that's something that should remain private.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think those are tremendously skilled players that have suffered some key injuries. I think it's unfortunate in Gaborik's case where he's in his last year of contract. Now Connolly has come back. I think it's up to each individual organization to decide whether they want to acquire a player of that status.
I think when you do sign a player, whether it's from your own organization or from an outside organization, you always consider those factors, how durable he is, and that's part of your evaluation process, whether you want to take on a player of that status that are very skilled and could be a factor in turning a franchise around. But at the same time there's always the factor of missing or being injured long?term.
JACQUES MARTIN: I think at this time it's probably a little difficult to speculate. I think we probably need to wait a little longer after the season to find out what the cap will be next year. I think there's no doubt there seem to be players -- organizations seem to want to sign their own players first, because you probably know them better. And whether the amount of money -- there's probably still going to be, when you look at top players, organizations are always in search of acquiring top players. Each organization has a responsibility to evaluate the players that are available through free agency, and it's one mechanism that's available to each organization to improve their hockey team.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think that sometimes you've got to look on the inside. When you look at our power play, I think that we have the elements in place. We have a major league shooter in Bryan McCabe that brings a dimension to our power play. I think sometimes it's just trying to find the chemistry. I know that our coaches are working hard at developing that chemistry with the players that are on the power play, and hopefully in the stretch drive it'll be a factor for us.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think, as I said earlier about Jay, I think it all depends on what we could acquire in return. I think if it's a package where we feel that we improve our hockey club, I think the rest of our organization, the rest of our players I think would recognize that. And that's why I said, we're going to make -- we'll go forward with Jay in our lineup if we can't get something that helps us now, and if we do get something that we feel is more beneficial for our hockey team, then I guess I would be willing to change the chemistry.
JACQUES MARTIN: I think Bryan has brought a tremendous value to our blue line. I think first of all, even strength, he's a plus player, he's an individual that can make a good first pass, can join the attack. He's always an offensive stress five-on-five, and as well maybe on the power play, maybe as much as it's not shown, he's definitely a threat with his shot and his ability to get the puck to the net. It's another asset that he brings to our organization.
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, Iím very impressed with Michael. I had seen him play in junior before, and we felt that we had a young man that would blossom in our organization. I like the way that he's capable of skating. We like his quickness and speed that he brings to our hockey club. But probably more important is his vision. He has a great vision. I think he's got 14 goals at this time, but also he can really make plays.
So we feel that we have a young player that's not only good offensively but is very good defensively, as well.