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Thread: Ray Shero Media Conference: July 15, 2011

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    Ray Shero Media Conference: July 15, 2011

    Ray Shero Media Conference: July 15, 2011
    Friday, 07.15.2011 / 5:09 PM

    Penguins general manager Ray Shero met with the media Friday afternoon. Here's the transcript of what Shero had to say:

    On what he knows about Sidney Crosby skating and how anxious he is for him to be cleared for physical contact:

    With Sid, it’s the same. He’s been on this schedule that he’s been following. Everything has gone well. No red flags. He was spotted on the ice (Thursday), which is the big news. Fine detective work (laughs). It’s part of his progression, to be ready for training camp. That is our expectation, that he’ll be ready for training camp. This is part of it and he’s been working out hard off the ice. Getting back on the ice is part of it as well.

    On the first year of Dustin Jeffrey’s contract being a two-way deal:

    He’s a player that did not have arbitration rights this year, so that’s part of the two-way deal the first year. Then he has a one-way contract the second year to get his average annual value of $575,000. With Dustin, I think it’s been documented that he’s a guy that does need waivers this year. To go down to Wilkes-Barre, he will require waivers. In our opinion, at this point he is an NHL hockey player. His rehab seems to be ahead of schedule, which is great news. We’ll be looking forward to having him back. He’s a kid who has made great progress with us and has gone through those steps of playing in WBS and being a top player in the American Hockey League I think as we saw last year, he can be a very good contributor in the National Hockey League. So I’m looking forward to him bouncing back from the injury.

    On if Steve MacIntyre will be a replacement for Eric Godard and how he sees him fitting in:

    Eric Godard did a fantastic job here for us. When we signed him three years ago, he won a Stanley Cup with us. He did his job well, protected his teammates. He was very, very well-liked by the players. When you get the Player’s Player Award, that says a lot about a player. I wish him good luck in Dallas and that’s fantastic for him and his fiancée. In terms of MacIntyre – to me, what I wanted to have if we were going to replace toughness or have a toughness list, is for it to be on a two-way contract for the flexibility. I went through this with Steve MacIntyre. Steve was actually a guy that I’ve tried to sign over the course of the last few years. I’ve seen him develop over the last few years from the low minors to being able to play in the National Hockey League. These guys bring a lot of the same things, starting with toughness, but they’re also known as great teammates, hard-working guys.I went through the entire situation with Steve as to having him here on a two-way contract. There’s no guarantee for Pittsburgh. There’s certainly no guarantee for Wilkes-Barre. So we’re going to see how it goes in training camp for him and our team. We know why Steve has moved along in his career. He’s a tough kid. But at the same time, he’s trying to improve himself as a player to be an everyday guy and stay on our roster. That's no different than Eric Godard at this point. I look forward to having Steve in training camp. From what we know, he’s a really good team player and a great guy in the locker room and the community. We’ve had a number of these guys, starting with Georges Laraque and Eric Godard – they were great off the ice for us as well and really fit into our group. So I’m looking forward to seeing Steve.

    On having depth on the left wing and the process of moving players over to the right side:

    Some of the things I’ve read saying that James Neal might play the right side or Steve Sullivan might play right side or left side – Steve is capable of playing either wing. It doesn’t matter. In the past, Chris Kunitz has volunteered to play the right side. This will go to Dan and how he wants to operate his team. I think what we’re going to see in training camp is what’s there the first day may not be there the seventh day. What’s there the seventh day might not be there at the start of the season. I think guys will move around and be interchangeable a little bit. That will be up to Dan. And I do think guys on the left side can play the right side. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to play one wing or the off wing. Some guys really prefer to play the off side. So we’ll see what training camp brings and if guys can do it with some success, that will certainly give us another dimension to our team.

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    Re: Ray Shero Media Conference: July 15, 2011

    Tom Fitzgerald Addresses the Media
    Saturday, 07.16.2011 / 2:44 PM

    Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald is helping at the Penguins 2011 prospect development camp at CONSOL Energy Center, which concludes Saturday with an open scrimmage. Here are a few points of interest that Fitzgerald shared with the media on the final day of camp.

    On his impressions from development camp:

    The staff and everyone here has done an incredible job accomplishing everything we wanted to accomplish, and that’s the education part of being a pro hockey player from the mental side to the nutrition side to the workout side. The truth is the on-ice component is the last thing that we’re looking at. It’s how we feel we can develop players which are in turn assets.

    On which players stood out to him:

    Look at Joe Morrow the first rounder, he’s a strong kid. He skates effortlessly around the ice. He glides. He moves well and can really shoot the puck. Tom Kuhnhackl is a kid who’s gotten taller, gotten bigger. He’s a very skilled individual. He comes from great genes. His dad is a legend in Germany. We feel we’ve got a really good player there. This is a big summer for him to get stronger and bigger and come to his first NHL training camp, and get off to a great start.

    On developing players in the Penguins mold:

    That message, criteria that our scouts mandate that they have, we get them here. They draft them, we get them. Compete is the biggest thing. You saw what our team did in the middle of the season when we didn’t have Sidney (Crosby) and Evgeni Malkin. We competed every night. If we compete every night we give ourselves a chance. In this camp, what we try to do is instill the details and the habits that we like to play with so that when these guys leave here they know exactly how we approach every day, they knew exactly what’s expected. Our college free agents that came in last year, we tried out for them to show them what we do and how we prepare. These are the details. This is what a Penguin is. We don’t expect anything less. They bought in and signed. They know exactly what’s expected of them. There are no curve balls thrown at them. They know exactly what we are. It goes back to our scouts. They know exactly what a Penguin is, the core components of what we want as players. They go out and do a great job of digging and digging into character, work ethic, compete level, where a kid’s from, background checks. At the end of the day they all can play hockey. Then we bring them in here to educate them on what a Penguin really is.

    On what the players learn abut being a pro off the ice:

    The NHL security meeting is a real eye opener. Each year the message could be different. This year it was money fraud, identity theft, real things that can happen in the world. They’re all aware of it, but when you watch it firsthand and see a video of Keith Tkachuk who talks about his bank account dwindling, someone stole his identity. They stole a lot of money from him. Those are eye opening things. I think nutrition is important. The seminar that we had is very good, especially for these young guys. These guys are the grass roots of our organization. Getting them off to a good head start to their pro career is real important.

    On grooming the players at camp:

    It’s like an appetizer. The guys are coming back, Joseph Morrow, Scott Harrington, to our rookie tournament, this will give them a heads up on how we want to play there in a tournament setting, game situations. This is part of grooming them for that too. At the end of the day we talk about competing and what a Penguin is, we’re going to Oshawa for three games, but our plan is to compete and win. We give them the details earlier than later. That’s why we’ve always been successful up there. Our guys understand what we want to do. The details and habits that they play with are very important to us.

    On finishing the camp with a scrimmage:

    We all play the game because we love to compete. That’s a big component of what we have here. You can see our standing board. That’s what drives an athlete, the competition part. Some camps scrimmage every day. That’s not what we’re all about. That’s not what we wanted to build. We save it for the end. I’m sure they’re very excited about what lies ahead today, and maybe anxious, maybe nervous. It’s all about competing. I know our staff is exiting to see what we have out there, the hockey sense, skills set, speed.

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    Re: Ray Shero Media Conference: July 15, 2011

    The Mentor
    Monday, 07.18.2011 / 11:22 PM
    Features By Michelle Crechiolo

    The Penguins prospects have all gone their separate ways now that the 2011 development camp is over.

    But no matter where they’re heading – whether back to college, juniors, or to one of the Penguins’ minor-league affiliates – they’ll have Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald monitoring their development and mentoring them as they embark on the journey of becoming professional hockey players.

    The impact Fitzgerald has on these players cannot be understated.

    “Knowing his personality, he was a great hire,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said of Fitzgerald, who served as the Predators’ first-ever captain when Shero was Nashville’s assistant GM. “He has got the personality to interact with the players. He’s got over 1,000 games in the National Hockey League. He’s got a great demeanor about him. He is a motivator, he is a teacher, he is a shoulder for these guys to lean on.”

    Take, for example, these words from Simon Despres, Pittsburgh’s first-round choice (30th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, who just finished a stellar season with Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Despres won a Memorial Cup, the Emile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy as the league’s best defenseman and a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2011 World Juniors.

    “I think that I wouldn't be where I was if it wasn't for (Fitzgerald),” Despres said. “He knows the game and he knows what it takes to get to the next level. So when he calls me, I listen to him the most I can. I think that we get along very well and he helps me a lot.”

    Fitzgerald, 42, brings invaluable experience to his role, as he’s a 17-season NHL veteran and former first-round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 1986. He played 1,097 career games with the Islanders, Florida, Colorado, Nashville, Chicago, Toronto and Boston before retiring in 2006.

    Before being promoted to his current role on July 3, 2009, Fitzgerald served two seasons as director of player development. He was also named interim assistant coach for the Penguins on Feb. 15, 2009 and helped coach the club to a Stanley Cup championship just three months later.

    According to Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill, Fitzgerald’s experience as a player coupled with his diverse front-office duties is why he relates so well to the prospects.

    “I think that carries a lot of weight with our players,” Botterill said. “Because he has had those experiences, he can pass that along to our players and I think that’s where the respect level is. You talk to our players, and I think the first thing they talk about when they meet Tom for the first time is his passion.

    “Tom has four boys and he’s a great father, but he looks upon these prospects as almost an extension of his family. He wants to see them have success, and it’s good to see that enjoyment and that someone can have so much passion for that.”

    Botterill’s take is dead on, as Fitzgerald thoroughly enjoys his role of “developing people,” as he puts it.

    “We know they’re good hockey players,” Fitzgerald said. “Now, it’s about developing an attitude and developing good habits – just kind of educating them on every aspect of what we are as an organization and what to expect.

    “Quite honestly, I don’t think development is saying ‘let’s just watch video, tell them what to eat and tell them how to play.’ It’s about building relationships. To me, that’s what development is all about. You build a trust so the player knows that we have your back. We’re out for your best interests as a player. We know what you want and we want to help you get there.”

    Throughout the season, Fitzgerald will keep in touch with both the prospect and his coaches through phone calls, texts and emails.

    “I build a relationship with the coach and I build a relationship with the player,” he said. “My philosophy has always been to call the coach first and get what he’s saying of where the kid’s at. Then I call the kid and ask him how he’s doing, what’s going on and to tell me about his game. They might be polar opposites. My job is to bring them together.”

    “The good thing with Tom is that he’s up front with players,” Botterill said. “Sometimes, there’s criticism. But when there are criticisms, he doesn't just leave them hanging out to dry. There’s criticism and then there’s ‘this is what you have to do to follow up and improve your game.’ I think that’s the biggest thing. There’s the reinforcement. It’s not just Tom yelling at the players. It’s Tom sometimes being aggressive, but then giving them the plan on what they need to follow up on to develop their career at the next level.”

    But despite all of his efforts to the contrary, Fitzgerald knows that sometimes the only way to learn is through actual trial-and-error.

    “In life, the only way to gain experience is through experiences,” he said. “I could sit there and tell the batter, fastball. And they sit on it. Here’s the curve. And they sit on it. But when I’m not whispering to them and they’re not learning how to hit the curve and they’re not jumping on the fastball as fast as they should, you’ve got to let them live. You have to let them learn.”

    But no matter what the prospects go through, Fitzgerald will be there to help them learn.


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