Here are some excerpts from the media question and answer period with Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay after the team’s first workout of training camp.
Q. What were your first impressions?
A. I thought for a while we were going to run out of bodies. One went off with a skate, another guy [Niclas Bergfors] goes off [with hand injury].We were short of forwards. The effort was tremendous. They really gave us everything they had. It was exciting. It was fun to watch. It was, in my mind, way too many turnovers. I know they are trying to show all the tricks of their trade, but we have to tighten up on a lot of little details. The effort was wonderful. (Bergfors reported he was fine following practice).
Q. You scrimmaged right away. Is that your philosophy and are there things you are looking for out of that?
A. First of all, I don’t know all the players all that well. There are a lot of players I’ve never seen before, certainly never coached before. I want to see how they play hockey. I always felt the best way to watch a hockey player is in a game. Let him play hockey. Lots of players can look pretty good skating up and down the ice, maybe passing the puck. I want to see how they play in a game. We’ve done that with most of the teams I’ve been with, we’ve scrimmaged early. These players are in shape. They are supposed to be in shape. I’ve seen them working hard here so let’s go play.
Q. With Patrice Cormier getting hurt, how much more difficult does that make it for him to make the team this year?
A. It’s hard. The kid put in such great work and just a wonderful kid around working in the gym, every chance on the ice. He’s done everything he could to put himself in position to have a legitimate chance to make the team. He’ll have to start again. We will see how long it goes and how he comes back from it. It’s a kick but he’s a young man with a great future ahead of him. That just happens but it will all work out.
Q. What’s your early impression of Dustin Byfuglien on defense?
A. Great effort. I told the boys I want them to jump up the ice and he certainly had no trouble with that. He’s very involved offensively. There is some work on the defensive end of it and that’s certainly to be expected. Here’s a guy that played forward most of the year. He’s got some work to do.
I look at what I think about defensemen and what I think defensemen should do, there’s a lot of things we have to adjust. That’s the nature of a new coach and new concepts.
Q. With Byfuglien specifically or all the defensemen?
A. All of them have something to learn for what I want. I want things that are different than they’ve had. We’ll get through that and hopefully sooner rather than later.
Q. What are your impressions of Alexander Burmistrov?
A. Burmy is a good player. For some of those kids, the pace at this camp is quite a bit quicker then the [rookie] camp they just faced. Mentally, you have to get past that as well. Suddenly you go out there and you are used to having X amount of time. The last three or four days you’re saying ‘Isn’t this great. I’m pretty good.’ All of a sudden the big boys say ‘Wait a minute. We’re a step quicker.’ All of those young guys that came out of that rookie camp have a little adjustment to make. Again, all of this is to be expected.
Q. Looking at the way the roster breaks down, and with Cormier getting hurt, would you say there is a very strong chance that either Angelo Esposito or Alexander Burmistrov are on the opening roster?
A. Certainly, somebody is going to jump in there. I really believe that. We always think that. I think every year you get a surprise with a young player who does a little bit more than expected and pushes his way on a team. I think that’s great. If it doesn’t work that’s also OK. Those kids are one of guys that have a chance to jump into the lineup. [Fredrik] Pettersson is another guy. Again, I’ve never seen him before. He’s going out there and he shoots from everywhere. That’s one of the things I really like. I did notice that from him.
We passed the puck way too much, which I didn’t like, but this kid, he’s a shooter. He was shooting from everywhere and taking his chances.
Q. Did you have a team meeting before camp and what did you tell the players?
A. We had a short team meeting last night. I talked about discipline a little bit. I talked about punctuality a little bit. I talked about enthusiasm. We tried to keep it short and I tried to talk to them today, the group I had, and we’ll do it about what I expect.
I don’t want to give them too much at one time. I’m hoping to focus in on some of the details and if you do it one or two at a time, it’s a heck of a lot easier for them to grasp. Today was chip it off the board day and D join day. I think we did both of those and we accomplished some of those with our drills. We did have to stop it at one point. When I said D up I meant get going and once we did that, boy they did a heck of a job. They were going hard and they were getting up and they were tired. But, they did it.
Q. Is that how you expect it too work, teaching a little at a time? You do have a game Tuesday.
A. If you had five hours, we’d have a nice video session right now. But we don’t. We were able to do that with the kids, with the rookies, we were able to show some video. Just a little bit each day. Something that shows them what we want to accomplish as a coaching staff. We felt that it was more important to see the people we had here. So the three days are going to be very busy. After that, game day will help a bit because we will be able to show some video to those people who are at least playing. We’ll have some of our own video afterward that we can cut and show. We’ll get into that. That’s where, in this day and age, with all of the things you have to do, you have to accomplish a lot with video.
Q. Will there be more scrimmages [Sunday]?
A. I think we might (smile).