While many of us were toiling away on “live online blogs” to get our hockey fix, a few MLHS writers were fortunate enough to make the trip down to see Game 2 of the rookie tournament in Kitchener against the Boston Bruins. Down at the rink, MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros managed to sneak in a few minutes with Leaf GM Brian Burke and rookie Nazem Kadri to chat about the game and the upcoming season.
Part 1 – Brian Burke
Q: General thoughts about the game? Any performances you were particularly pleased with?
Burke: Stalberg, Bozak, Hanson and Kadri were all good. What really stood out to me is that they’re all three zone players. They’re all very conscientious defensively. Obviously they’re very well coached.
Q: The one thing I’ve noticed about this defense corps is that they all possess the ability of a good outlet pass. It’s certainly an interesting strategy with additions like Beauchemin and Komisarek.
Burke: Well, the less time you spend in your end, the more time you spend in other zones. I find it amusing that people point out their low point totals, but to me, we signed Komisarek to be defensively reliable and make a good first pass. Beauchemin, once again, a good first pass.
Q: The guys you mentioned here like Bozak and Stalberg, they’re both 23 while a lot of these kids are in the teens or just turning 20. Do you expect more of them because of that?
Burke: Well they should stand out here because they’re bigger and more experienced, so I’m not surprised by that. For a guy like Bozak, he does all the little things right. So yeah, they should distance themselves a bit and have shown that.
Q: Can you talk a bit about Blacker. He’s played very well the last two games.
Burke: Well, he’s really mobile and really crowds the forwards. In the defensive zone coverage, he gets on them quickly to take away time and space. Very energetic player, good wheels, smart. I like him.
Q: Like what you saw from Jamie Devane in the first period? The fight? Kind of the what you’re looking for right?
Burke: With Devane, I think your tough guy has to play. We feel he’s going to improve as a player. He’s gonna be able to log some minutes and contribute some of that as well.
Part 2 – Nazem Kadri
Q: Was the pace of a game like that very different from junior?
Kadri: Yeah, I think it is. Obviously, the caliber of guys is here is very high with most of them having been drafted. They’re pretty awesome players and it’s good to be here.
Q: Another high profile guy here in this tournament that Leaf fans are looking forward to is the “Monster”. What do you think of the way he played?
Kadri: He’s a big guy who moves laterally pretty well, and he’s good with his body. He definitely seems NHL ready and he’s a helluva goalie.
Q: It’s looking like the guys were really stepping it up another level in terms of physicality out there.
Kadri: Yeah, I really think so. They play the kind of game where they really come after you, whether it’s a power forward or a more of a fighter. They’re definitely more aggressive at this level and it’s something I’m going to have to deal with, and I feel that I’ve managed to do that pretty well today.
Q: How does it feel to be playing in Kitchener again?
Kadri: It feels great, feels like I’m back at home. I’m born and raised here and spent some quality years here developing as a hockey player. So it’s nice to be back and I’m pretty excited about it.
A big thanks to Gus for the post-game audio.