The Hurricanes will face off with the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night to kick off a five-game homestand as they look to keep working on locking up first place in the Central Division.
They’ll get a reinforcement to do so, as Brady Skjei will make his return after missing four games in the concussion protocol. Rod Brind’Amour, Teuvo Teravainen and Morgan Geekie spoke to the media following Thursday’s morning skate, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On what Andrei Svechnikov has taught him as a coach: My initial thought was I’m not as good as I thought, because I haven’t gotten through to him on some things, but he’s taught me a lot about that I have seen him grow in his game. His willingness to get better takes time. This NHL game is a hard game, especially, think, coming from his background, where I really think he wasn’t taught a lot about the away from the puck game, because he’s had it his whole life. So it’s really just that patience. Stay patient and it’s an every day process towards trying to get better, and that’s his attitude, too. He’s always trying to get better.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: He’s quiet. He’s very reserved. That’s kind of how he plays. He’s very calm. That’s how I get the sense from him, is he’s just kind of a laid-back guy, but he’s very competitive. You can see it. That’s a great thing. We love it. He’s a great kid. He’s worked his butt off to get to this point. We’ve obviously known him for a long time, and he’s put in his time. I’m thrilled with how he’s playing, it helps us. But just for him, because he’s put in the work.
On what he’s learned about himself as a head coach: I think when I played, I thought coaching was how hard can it be? That’s what I thought. And in doing this for awhile, you realize there’s a lot. There’s a lot that goes into it to get to the level you want to get to. It certainly helps to have good players. At the end of the day, you can do a lot of great things if you have great players, and it’s hard if you don’t. That’s really at the end of the day, what I’m so fortunate here, because we have a lot of great players.
On goalie coach Paul Schonfelder: I think Paul’s really had a relationship with Ned going back quite a while, worked with him, and I think that’s certainly probably helped Ned, just that familiarity when he got here to work with him. Honestly, that’s their department. We had [Jason Muzzatti] here last year. He did a great job. They have their own relationship. They’re kind of their own thing and I don’t get involved too much, and why would I? They’re doing a really good job.
On Petr Mrazek: He obviously was out a little longer than we would have hoped. We’ve kind of been saying that with him with a couple injuries here. I think he got good news yesterday and he got checked again, so I’m hoping that we’ll ramp him up barring any setbacks, get him back up to game speed here quickly.
On possibly resting guys and getting them ready for the playoffs: Right now, with the injuries, it kind of takes it out of your hands. There’s only so many guys we can play. We have to play them. At the end of the day, what we’ve afforded ourselves is if a guy’s banged up a little bit, he doesn’t play. Whereas if we were in a little different spot, you’d probably say ‘You’ve got to get in there, we need this game.’ They all count, we do need this game, but we’re not going to do it at the expense that maybe somebody further injures themselves or is out in the playoffs. You wouldn’t want to do that. That’s basically the only way we’re looking at it differently. We want to win every game, we’re going to play to win. Whoever’s in the lineup is going to be healthy and we don’t have to rush people back.
On winning the draft lottery for Andrei Svechnikov: It’s a huge step. He’s a big part of what we have here and what we will have moving forward. You can trace that lottery back to a lot of organizations that can be like ‘Hey, good thing we won that’ because of the player they picked up. I certainly hope that in 10 years we look back and that question will be even more relevant, that that was a big luck of the draw, in essence, but that’s how a lot of teams have been built. Just look around. We have other pieces here that have obviously pushed us to this point, but he’s a big one, for sure.
On the decision to swap goalie coaches between the NHL and AHL: There was a lot. The changing of the minor league team, the location of that, [Jason Muzzatti] actually lives a lot closer to there. There were just a lot of things that made that move. I think the relationship that Paul has with Ned didn’t hurt that. That played into it too. But there were just a bunch of little things that he’s done a great job. And obviously by the look of our goalies this year, he has.
On concussions: That goes to just the education. I’ll be honest with you, the way concussions are graded now, and how they take guys out, I look back on my career and there was some worry at the end. I’m like, ‘Holy moly, I probably had 100 of them.’ But we just didn’t know back then. Now their err is on caution, for sure. A guy gets a little dinged up, obviously they yank him out of the game. If there’s a little something, he’s out for a week. They really take care of these guys as best they can, and that’s a great thing.
On the lineup: [Brady Skjei], I think, will be back in, and then [James Reimer] will be going in the net. I think that’s the only change.
On how he feels: Finally, I feel good. It’s been a long time to be without the game and without being part of the team. It’s been tough times and a tough year for me for sure, but I’m pretty excited to be back now. It was just too long for me.
On how challenging the process has been for him: It’s been tough, especially mentally, being not able to play. That’s the thing I love the most. So it’s tough to work out and do all the bikes and workouts every day. That’s what I don’t like as much as the game, so for sure, I’m so excited to be back with the boys now.
On the approach to getting back up to speed: Just try to get to my game somehow, try to feel good out there and do simple, small plays. Try to just get my legs moving again. It might take a couple games, so it’s good we have a few more games before the playoffs, and I should be all good for the playoffs.
On how he got through things mentally: It was tough times. Everybody helped me a lot, maybe even too much. They asked me how I feel every day, and that’s kind of annoying. I don’t want to talk about it too much anymore. It’s all past now. I’m really excited to go forward now and just be healthy again.
On what the issue was after the last game he played before his absence: I just didn’t feel right, especially the next day again [after playing]. I was having the symptoms, so it was just not the right feeling. It just took more time. It’s tough to say, but the symptoms just kind of never got away, so it was tough.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: He’s quite the character. He’s pretty outgoing, he’s one of the first guys that befriended me when I first got to Charlotte my first year. I have nothing but great things to say about Alex. He’s a standup guy, and I love to see him have some success.
On the adjustment with the taxi squad: I think the organization does a great job of kind of keeping the taxi squad guys ready to go. I felt like I was in good shape coming in, and just tried to carry that over into the games.
On his personality: I’m pretty quiet. I would say I’m pretty dry. I like to think I’m kind of funny, but I’m sure you can ask a lot of people that would say otherwise. I would say I kind of stay in my own circle, but other than that, just kind of keep to myself.
On shaking off a loss: I think I’m able to move pretty quickly. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of games on the schedule. I think it’s something that everyone needs to reflect on the past game. But if we stick to our game, at the end of the day, you can’t out pizza the hut.