Tamp Bay Storming

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AaronRStanley
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Tamp Bay Storming

Post by AaronRStanley » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:15 am

Sportsnet's Nicholas Kapreyos here folks, still Greek last naming it, and I'm sitting down with Tampa Bay Lightning GM, Sam O'Quinn. We're here, just hours before Game 5 of the Lightning's Eastern Conference Semi-Final matchup with the Buffalo Sabres.

Thanks for taking the time. Is it ok if I call you Sam?

GM Sam O’Quinn: Sure, call me Sam. Mind if I call you Bob?

Sportsnet's Nicholas Kapreyos: I do, so don't. I was an enforcer in the NHL in the 90s, so try me. So far, the series is tied. What are your thoughts on how your team is playing?

GM Sam O’Quinn: Well, I've to say my team is trying hard playing good out there, but you can say the exact darn thing about the Buffalo Sabres, they're an incredible foe.

NK: How do you feel about your team, heading into Game 5? You split the first two games in Buffalo, but they seem to be picking up momentum.

GM O’Quinn: It’s uh, a strange feeling. I'm scared of losing, but proud of the progress the team and coaching staff have made from the past year.

NK: You say your team made progress. You made a 14 point jump in the standings. What prompted such a leap for the team?

GM O’Quinn: Well, I think the three biggest things were an increase of depth, good timing and balance of veterans and young enthusiasm and a coaching miracle from our staff.

NK: This isn't 1980, and you're not Kurt Russell. What brought on your miracle?

GM O’Quinn: Bahaha... well Nich, I'd then have to say it's the coaching staff. Sure, the team improved, but a team is only as good as its coaching staff.

NK: Right. But what specifically did they do to drive your players on to such a jump?

GM O’Quinn: Possession game. If you don't let them touch the puck, they can't score goals, and you can. I'd say last year the staff, myself included expected the team to play a game it wasn't suited for, and just like when you try to get a date, it won't work if you don't be yourself.

NK: Speaking of dating, you were seen arguing with your coach a few times after practices this year. Trouble in paradise?

GM O’Quinn: Hahaha, Well Nich, when you injure my two best players in one week, you might expect me to get a bit mad. Though, to be fair, I don't think I know much about dating.

NK: So, if I heard what you said, you're blaming your head coach personally for the injuries to Giroux and Bishop?

GM O’Quinn: [Laughing] Only a little.

NK: How is it you are still employing someone that, even a little, injured two of your biggest stars? No concerns that he might cause more significant injuries in the future, or open the team up to potential law suits?

GM O’Quinn: You're treading on a bee's nest Nich, but I think... well, he learned his lesson.

NK: Heading into the summer, regardless of your playoffs, what do you see as your team's biggest needs and do you see any possibilities in Free Agency?

GM O’Quinn: Well, the team's already pretty good, and I won't confirm WHO is leaving, there will be three of them... depth will be the biggest problem, but I think it can be solved through the prospect pool here in Tampa, to name one who's shown his ability in the playoffs, Anthony DeAngelo.

NK: You're talking of course about Trevor Daley, Peter Holland, and Patrick Sharp. What makes them bad fits for Tampa?

GM O’Quinn: all good players and certainly each have a place on Tampa, and will have places on other teams, but with a Salary cap league you have to make sacrifices.

NK: Have the owners committed to spending to the cap for the next several seasons, or is this the beginning of a parade out of the sunshine state?

GM O’Quinn: I think the fans here are plentiful and excellent, and the team brings in enough revenue to stay here, for time being. (Under his breath) Not sure about our State rivals, though.

NK: Safe to say the rivalry with the Panthers is going strong? How good does it feel to have won a game against the Sabres, after Buffalo swept the Cats?

GM O’Quinn: I'd say it hasn't burned out yet, but sometimes teams just have a bad series, and a sweep from Buffalo might not mean as much as it seems.

NK: So, you're saying they're a tire fire of an organization, that's still on fire?

GM O’Quinn: Your words Nich, not mine. (More laughing from O’Quinn)

NK: Ok, I will quote you as saying you think Florida should be burnt to the ground. Harsh words from a loser without a date.

NK: If the Lightning can't win the Cup this year, what team do you think will, or what team would you like to see win it?

GM O’Quinn: think any team has a chance at it, and whoever DOES win it deserves it, but from a personal standpoint, I’d have to say an eastern team, no name to be given.

NK: Ok, so you think that at this point, the East is the stronger conference, and the standings would certainly bear that out. What team from the West do you see as being a serious Cup contender, now or next season?

GM O’Quinn: Next season is anyone's game, as no one, me included, could have seen a sweep of the reigning cup champs from Tampa, but when it comes to this year in the west, I look to Minny, and both Albertan teams, though it's anyone’s game in the end.

NK: That was quite the series. Several of the games were not very close. To what do you attribute your team's success in the first round?

GM O’Quinn: A great and hardworking performance from my team, and major contributions from players like Granlund were the mainstay in the first round, though again, I think it comes down to the possession game.
Boston played a fierce and beefy game though, and a sweep doesn't mean they didn't play at their best and try their hardest.

NK: How is your team, a group that is veteran in age, handling the adjustment to the lineup and roster as you add more youth to the team?

GM O’Quinn: I think, demonstrated by Giroux's fantastic season, having a very positive effect on both the veterans and the young ones, demonstrated by Drouin’vs breakout season. You always want a good balance in a team. In terms of the lineup, it gives great flexibility.

NK: Is your prospect depth strong enough that moving forward, you will be able to continue to inject talent into your lineup as holes are created through retirement or free agency departures?

GM O’Quinn: I definitely think so. To name a few, Erne, Stephens and Borisov will be a big part of the future. Most of the talent may reside on the NHL lineup, but not all.

NK: And do you have any concerns about your scout’s ability to find prospects with the scarcity of high picks you will face in the next several drafts? You don't have your own first this year or next.

GM O’Quinn: No concerns at all. I may struggle to find first round talent from an outside view, but there's always gems that even the best scouts can't see.

[The Interview with GM Sam O'Quinn was halted at that point due to a scheduling conflict. Part 2 of the Interview was conducted after the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals was decided.]

Nicholas Kapreyos here again folks, back with Lightning GM Sam O'Quinn. Congratulations on that series victory over the Sabres. Can you describe the feeling in the locker room after that victory in triple OT of Game 7?

GM O’Quinn: Hello Again Nich. I think the players would give you the same answer I will, the feeling isn't really describable. Maybe it's an overflow of emotions, maybe it's something else. But if I must, I'd use awe.

Nicholas Kapreyos: What allowed you to come back in the series from being in such a big hole from the first couple of games?

GM O’Quinn: You tell me, Nich. I may be the GM of this team, but I don't know everything. Of course, Hard Work and Determination played big roles, but beyond that, I'm not entirely sure.

Nicholas Kapreyos: Any players that surprised you with their performance, or was it a whole team win?

GM O’Quinn: Well, yknow, it's always a team effort and this is a team game, no one survives without the other, but that doesn't mean there isn't stars. In this series in particular, Drouin, Stralman, and of course Ben Bishop were those stars.

Nicholas Kapreyos: How did the injury to Hedman impact your team's ability to move on to the Eastern Final?

GM O’Quinn: Any injury hurts our chances, and this one certainly did, as Hedman is a Star of the league, and a Norris Candidate. Of course, above all, he's the teams captain, and has lead it farther than anyone expected. But I think coming out on top in game 7 without him is a clear example of exactly how good a captain he has been, and the hard work and determination he has instilled in the team.

Nicholas Kapreyos: We've talked about what this season was. What do you see for this team next year, and beyond?

GM O’Quinn: I see a bright future, as the teams veterans aren't too old and our young players aren't inexperienced, for the most part, and I do expect to make the playoffs again.

Nicholas Kapreyos: Any loftier expectations, or is it a matter of make the playoffs, and do your best?

GM O’Quinn: I know what you're asking, and going for the cup is always the end goal, but above that is play your best and have fun doing it.

Nicholas Kapreyos: You have, at the moment, just under $1,000,000 in cap space. Obviously shopping big in UFA is out. But do you see any difficulties keeping this group together?

GM O’Quinn: For now, no, but it's always a possibility, and more so an inevitability, but sacrifices have to be made. I defiantly think I can keep a good team here in Tampa for a long time coming, though it may not be of the quality it is now, or it could be better. Hockey is by no means predictable.

Nicholas Kapreyos: Very true. Who needs to get better next year?

GM O’Quinn: Obviously, you always want to see everyone improve any in the end anyone can, but knowing you you'll push me.. my biggest offensive disappointment this year was Tyler Bozak, and Brodin on the blue line.

Nicholas Kapreyos: Have you laid out plans for them to improve this offseason? Or are you telling them to get better and seeing how they drive themselves?

GM O’Quinn: I think they honestly both fit into the team very well, but both need to step up their offensive game. Being the offseason, you get more rest than usual, but also more practice time. Bozak and Brodin are both cool guys, and I expect them to realize this themselves and use the time givin to them.

Nicholas Kapreyos: Ok. Pushing hope, stability, and a reign of competitiveness. Thank you for the interview, and best of luck.

GM O’Quinn: Thanks for having me, Nich.

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