Five Questions With … Mark Stuart

Mark Stuart was acquired in a February trade with Boston and promptly signed a three-year, $5.1 million contract with the Thrashers. He had one assist in 23 games.

Stuart will play for the United States in the World Championships following the season.

In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Stuart had to say about how close the Thrashers are to the playoffs, how long it takes to adjust to coach Craig Ramsay’s style and his chance to wear an ‘A.’

Q. Can you speak to your season from a personal standpoint, coming over here in the trade and then not making the playoffs?

A. Coming over it was exciting. It was new. It was very disappointing we didn’t make a better run at it. Like I’ve said since I’ve been here, I really like our team. I really like the makeup of the team. I like the organization. The future is definitely bright. I think we have the pieces in place. Obviously there are some things that need to change, some things that need to get better. I think we have the guys. You’ve seen it off and on in some of the games we played. We can be a good team in this league. We just have to find that consistency.

Q. When you say some things have to change, what are you referring to?

A. It’s tough to explain but in this league you have to learn how to win. We seen in some of the games we were up by a few goals, we don’t know how win yet. We kind of let teams back into it. We had a lot of overtime games, games that we won. But good teams, once they get up in games they don’t look back. They bury teams. We haven’t quite learned how to do that yet. It’s something that we are working on. We are getting better. That game in New York (on April 7) was a good example. We stayed with them. We played the same game the whole time and won 3-0. It’s good to see. There were not enough games like that.

Q. How long does it take to get coach Ramsay’s method of play, like being better with your stick, for the younger players?

A. I don’t think it should take that long. It’s really a simple thing. It’s just a matter of getting it in your head and forming that good habit and having your stick down. It’s big though. It’s amazing if you have your stick on the ice and you are putting your stick on the puck, it’s amazing how many pucks you will deflect or passes you’ll pick off. I think guys are definitely improving at it. I think [Alexander Burmistrov] and [Evander Kane] are two guys that have definitely improve. In the neutral zone, forechecking, if they have their stick on the ice, they are so fast, they have such good speed, they are going to pick off a lot of pucks. It’s just a matter of forming that good habit.

Q. You bring a physical presence to the game. Ramsay’s style, and he took some heat for it, is that hitting is overrated because he wants the hit to separate the player from the puck. What is your philosophy on that? Does that take a while to teach a young player?

A. Yes. I think it’s important. The ultimate goal is to get the puck back. You want to control the puck. But I think at times a physical play, like a hit or a fight, can change the momentum of the game. Sometimes you’ve got to forget about that puck and try to run somebody over. Most of the time, for a guy like [Burmistrov] getting in on the forecheck, I think it’s important to finish their checks but the ultimate goal is to get the puck. A guy like [Burmistrov], you want the puck on his stick. It’s different for me, obviously, in the neutral zone and open-ice hits, I’m going to take the body and hopefully one of my teammates is going to take the puck. I agree with [Ramsay] but also I think once in awhile run someone over and forget about the puck and it might jack your team up a little bit.

Q. When Tobias Enstrom went down, they gave you the ‘A.’ What are your thoughts on that?

A. I was very flattered. Leadership is very important to me. Hopefully I can grow into that role here. I think I haven’t been in the league a long time but I think I’ve been in it long enough where I can help some of the young guys. Having a letter is very important to me. The NHL, wearing an ‘A’ it’s big. I have a whole lot of pride in that for sure.

The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Thursday, Eric Boulton.

18 comments Add your comment

The Real Thrash

April 27th, 2011
8:13 am

Listen to your coach Mark.

GaVaHokie

April 27th, 2011
8:35 am

Great answers… you had me at ‘run someone over and forget about the puck’.

The times when Atlanta was playing it’s best defense was when guys concentrated on stepping in between the puck and the player. Using your body to take the stick off the puck.

TrueBlue

April 27th, 2011
8:36 am

I find it interesting he mentioned Burmistrov so many times…Can’t decide if that is a form of respect for the kid or if Stuart feels that Burmi has a lot of work to do.

Anyways…Really good interview.

Michael B. Shapiro

April 27th, 2011
8:37 am

Good addition, but he’s right about hitting and Coach needs to listen to Mark on this, not the other way around.

Smoothie

April 27th, 2011
9:23 am

Love this guy, he’s a facking animaal! Go get ‘em Stuey!!

Hopefully out of camp, Stuart will solidify that bottom pairing and help transform ATL into a place where winning is expected.

alex

April 27th, 2011
9:31 am

burma playing wright way with defensive responsibilities, but he is forward and 8 pick. he has to produce offensively close to Skinner like numbers who been 7 pick, otherwise i will consider him bust like numerous first draft picks by famously bad thrashers scouting under dw leadership or new gm.

East Point Bob

April 27th, 2011
9:59 am

The future is bright ? Yeah if you are Washington or say, Vancouver. Atlanta will never be a very good team as long as we keep resigning players who have been here and do not win. Too many of them back next season, Slater, Bogosian, Burmistrov, and so on.

Midfield

April 27th, 2011
10:50 am

Well, at least he made two things very clear: he wants Burmistrov’s stick on the ice and he wants the puck on Burmistrov’s stick. The man is all business. Nothing like Bogosian’s interview.

Hockey Biltong

April 27th, 2011
11:47 am

Ok EPB, Who do you keep and who do you let go?

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 27th, 2011
12:36 pm

I’m glad Mark Stuart doesn’t think hitting is overrated.

Dwayne

April 27th, 2011
12:39 pm

EPB..Burmy is 12 years old, Bogo, one more year for him, Slater, a 4rth liner. So who should the Thrashers sign?? Let go??

Brendan

April 27th, 2011
1:32 pm

Nice interview. I’m glad we got Mark re-signed for 3 years. I’m sick of rentals. Has Dvorak re-signed? Is there even any word out of his camp about the possibility of re-signing here?

Cornbread

April 27th, 2011
2:49 pm

Good stuff by Stuart. Further proof that smart hockey must be taught, learned, and experienced for a team to be successful. Smart experienced hockey beats youthful skill all day long. Combine the two and you can do some serious damage. The Thrashers are not far away from that.

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 27th, 2011
4:40 pm

I don’t know of many players with an actual desire to sign here considering we are in the same boat with the Coyotes regarding possibly re-locating to the frozen tundra of inbreds. People still wear acid washed jeans there and the internet has yet to be born…but Tsn continues to poach us..since we have a good core apparently. I wish more players would revolt, say no to Winnipeg.

[...] Tiger Mark Stuart, who is headed to Slovakia later this month to play for Team USA, took part in a Q&A with the Atlanta newsaper. Share and [...]

acid wash guy

April 27th, 2011
11:35 pm

Yuvno: If you knew anything about the so called tundra up here, you’d know something. i am on my type writer sending this via mail obviously. Winnipeg is going to get a team, & you’ll be surprised to see that seats will actually get filled…every game! You should research this place & actually see what it”s about.

B. Thenet

April 28th, 2011
2:06 am

It’s about 2 degrees with snow in the forecast, right?

Let’s hope you do a better job filling seats the 2nd time around. I believe the Thrashers average more fans per game than Winnipeg did in attendance.

No shortage of arrogant jerks in your neck of the woods though from what I can tell off the internet. What goes around comes around, and I will be around when you lose your team for a 2nd time.

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 28th, 2011
7:06 am

why would I want to research Winnipeg? I know what snow looks like. So far the people born there are the only ones to like it because they have no other choice..and of course seats will get filled, people will be frozen to them. Don’t shoot the messenger, so far the vast majority of NHL players have said the same thing. They don’t want to play in Winterpeg.