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Florida Panthers exit day quotes

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Six Cats speak out post 2018-19 campaign

Ottawa Senators v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Aleksander Barkov

(On the hiring of Joel Quenneville as head coach) – “It’s a Stanley Cup winning coach, one of the best coaches ever to be in the NHL and to have the opportunity to work with him is unreal but at the same time, it’s really disappointing that we didn’t make the playoffs. It’s not just a coaching thing, it’s players too. Of course, as players we need to make sure that we’re going to be ready to play next year and meet expectations.”

(On lessons in leadership as captain) – “I grew up a lot as a man, especially off ice. On the ice, I always try to be a leader and in the room too, I always try to lead by example and try to show guys how to get ready for games or stuff like that, but of course this year I grew up a lot as a man. To be able to work with those guys and be with them in the same room and everywhere is a really good thing for me. I’m really happy to be a part (of the team) with those guys.”

(On first thought when hearing about Joel Quenneville’s hire) – “I think everybody knows him and he’s won a lot of Stanley Cups and he’s a really successful coach, so I’m sure that everybody is going to like him and respect him. I’m really sure that we’re going to be really good.”

(On Quenneville bringing respect) – “Of course, when there are guys like that. I mean, I don’t know if you can compare, but when Jagr [Jaromir Jagr] came in or Luongo [Roberto Luongo], you respect those guys and he’s kind of in the same category. He’s won a lot of games and Stanley Cups, so he definitely knows what to do.”

(On it being the time to take off for the Panthers) – “We know that we have had the talent here for a while. We’re getting more experience, getting older, and getting a little better every year. Like I said before, it’s really disappointing that we didn’t make playoffs this year or last year, but at the same time, I’m really excited about this team and the next season.”

(On Quenneville being intense and the Panthers missing that energy this year) – “I think everybody liked Boughner [Bob Boughner] as a guy and as a coach too, but everybody is going to respect Coach Q [Joel Quenneville]. He’s won a lot of games and he definitely knows what to do there. It’s up to the players and everybody is going to listen to him. We’re going to be good.”

(On having a talk with Roberto Luongo about coming back next year) – “I think he’s still a really good goalie and a really good leader for us. It’s really tough to imagine him not playing for the Panthers next year, but it’s his decision. Of course, we all hope that he’s going to come back.”

(On what influence Luongo could be as a backup) – “He’s a great leader, especially for our group. It’s going to be really tough not to imagine him being in our locker room. He’s one of those guys who works really hard every day and at his age shows a lot of character and leadership to our group. Everyone looks up to him.”

(On noticing a change in his game this year) – “I think I noticed a little change a couple of months ago, especially when Troch [Vincent Trocheck] came back, I was a little fresher on the ice. I didn’t have to play those big minutes. I think I was playing three or four minutes less than I played before that and of course I got more energy to use on the ice and maybe go on the offensive zone one more time or try to defend with fresh legs. I always try to work as hard as I can to be a better player the next day and I’m going to continue to do that until I’m done.”

(On excitement on how Quenneville will work with him) – “When he was coaching in Chicago, there were a lot of good players like Kane [Patrick Kane], Toews [Jonathan Toews] and a lot of other guys. What he did with them is pretty unreal and they won a couple cups and they had a lot of really good leaders in the locker room. We’re looking forward to work with him.”

(On adjusting to so many new coaches) – “It’s probably been like five or six coaches. It’s always disappointing when there’s a coaching change, it means that we didn’t exceed expectations and as players we have to look at ourselves in the mirror at the same time. At the same time, it means the organization wants to win and they will do everything they can to win games. This is going to be good for us.”

(On feeling a change while being Captain) – “At the beginning, I was kind of excited and a little bit nervous too like ‘what should I do? Should I be yelling all the time or what?’ but then I just realized that I just had to be myself and try to lead by example. Of course, when there is a place for something to be said, I’ll say something and Troch [Vincent Trocheck] and Yands [Keith Yandle] and all the other leaders in the room, they helped me a lot. I just tried to be myself like I was before, but I grew up a lot this year.”

(On training with Henrik Borgstrom) – “I have talked to him about where he trains. I think he trains in a really good spot in Helsinki with a couple other NHL players. I think he’s good, but of course if he needs anything, I’m available a two-hour drive from Helsinki. Of course, we might also be skating together this summer too.”

Jonathan Huberdeau

(On the hiring of Joel Quenneville) – “It’s great news for us. We know him as a coach, and he has a great pedigree. Won a cup with Chicago, we know Dale [Tallon] knows him a lot, so really excited to meet him and start working with him for next year.”

(On being used to adjusting to new coaches) – “Honestly, it’s probably going to be the last change. It’s not fun losing a coach. We didn’t meet expectations with Bob [Boughner], but he was a great guy. I think when you get a coach like [Quenneville] you want to keep him, and we have to do the job on the ice.”

(On Joel Quenneville taking them to the playoffs) – “We know what we have to do to make the playoffs and this coach knows how to win. We have the right group; we just have to figure it out on our own and he’s the guy that is going to help us do that.”

(On the sentiment among the team about getting serious) ­ – “I said it this year. We don’t want to be in this situation, not making the playoffs and being (here) April 8th. We just have to manage to be a good team, have a good start and come in and be a tough team to play against every night and be consistent out there.”

(On his thoughts about Joel Quenneville) – “We know he’s a winning coach who wants to win every game. We know we have the right group, so I think now we have the right coach. We have to have that mentality. It’s going to be really exciting. It’s obviously going to be a long summer, but really excited to come back and work with him.”

(On Joel Quenneville’s experience in the NHL helping through the obstacles) – “Like I said, he’s a winning coach and he’s been so good everywhere he’s been. He’s been with the Blackhawks for so many years, hopefully he can be here for many years and we can have a winning culture, making the playoffs every year. That’s what we want.”

(On personal jump he made this season) – “The points were great, personally, but I’d rather be at 60-70 points and make the playoffs and not be here today, so I think it doesn’t matter. My game went up this year, especially in the second half and I just want to be more consistent out there. That’s what I’m going to work on for next year and be good every game.”

(On Evgenii Dadonov being a key contributor to his line) – “He’s good. Our line at the end was pretty good, tough to play against and that’s what we want to be. I think, sometimes Dadonov doesn’t get the credit, but he’s a guy that comes really fast and he creates some space for us. I think he has 28 goals as well, so it’s really good.”

(On the number one thing the new coach must do) – “Obviously, he’s going to bring his own system. I think the coach is going to be a big part of it, but I think it’s on us too. The leaders are in there, I’m a leader and I’ve been here for a lot of years and I think it’s the same core group, so we just have to figure out on our own how the young guys and the veterans can be good out there.”

(On what stands out about a Coach Quenneville team) – “Chicago has always been a tough team to play against, so I think every year they focus on offense. They were an offensive team, so I think it’ll be exciting for us, but defensively they were good as well, so they were a complete team. That’s what we want to be. I think defensively we struggled this year, so next year is a new step and he’s going to bring us a new system. It should work out.”

(On how Joel Quenneville will boost the leaders’ confidence) – “It’s upon ourselves to bring this team to another level and I think you can’t sit and be satisfied with getting some points. Like last year we had 96 points, but we weren’t in the playoffs. I think we can’t be satisfied with that, so we have to work hard and show the way to the other guys. When we made the playoffs, other guys showed me the way, so I think I have to do the same thing right now to the younger guys.”

Roberto Luongo

(On Joel Quenneville being hired as head coach) – “I think it’s exciting to have a coach that has won some cups and has experience, so it’s a good vibe around the locker room.”

“He’s won multiple cups with the Blackhawks over the last few years and I think that’s a huge resume and a big name to have in the locker room and a good presence. I think guys will look up to that and respect what he has to say. I think the main thing is that he’s won, and he’s proven it before, and I think we need a little bit of that in our locker room to realize what it takes to win night in and night out in this league.”

“Everybody’s ultimate goal is to win a cup, so it’s really a matter of taking it one step at a time right now, we have to make sure once training camp rolls around next year, that the pieces that are set here in place are ready to take that next step. That’s where it goes, and we move on from there. Like I said before, a presence like Q [Joel Quenneville] who has won Cups, has a big voice and knows what it takes to win is a big step for our club.”

(On team being ready to go to the next level) – “I think it’s important to have a guy that’s been there and know what it takes to win and even though our core has been here a few years now and we’ve made some strides, I think we’re still missing a little bit to understand what it takes to win every night in this league and it’s not just about going on the ice and making saucer passes and scoring goals. There’s a lot more stuff involved than that and I think as a group, it’s right there, we just need to kick in that last five percent to understand that we have to do this, this and this to be successful on most nights and I think that’s a good way to start things with a coach like Q [Joel Quenneville].”

(On there being more accountability this year) – “I hope so. We all hold ourselves accountable. Starting with me and net, all the way out to the forwards. We have to make sure that when we make a mistake, because mistakes are going to be made, that’s just part of the game, but that we take accountability for them and we realize what we did and try to correct it so it doesn’t happen again in the future.”

(On thoughts about this season after 19 seasons) – “It was a tough season, first and foremost because we didn’t make the playoffs. Obviously, that’s disappointing and I think for myself, I had a bit of a tough stretch in the middle where I lost confidence and I was doubting myself a little bit if I could still do this and that’s on me. I was really disappointed that I went through that, but after I got over that hump, I think the last few months of the season, I played well, I was having fun, I was happy with the way I responded and how I was playing down the stretch. That’s where I’m at right now.”

(On his frustration during the last loss of the season) – “I just don’t like losing. Doesn’t matter if the game means something or not, that’s the way I’m built. I just hate losing, doesn’t matter if it’s an exhibition game or a playoff game or a game that doesn’t mean anything at the end of the season. You just always want to end on a good note and that was a tough way to lose.”

(On what Luongo saw in Chicago that Quenneville will fix once he arrives here) – “Whenever we’ve had playoff series against [Chicago], I think their goal was to have two guys inside my crease the whole time, so we’ll be scoring some more goals from in the blue.”

(On his decision on returning next year) – “Today, we have the exit meetings and with all the news going around, there’s a lot of things happening right now, so it’s something that we’ll circle back on in a couple of weeks and have a sit down with management and discuss the future. This is my home. I love this organization and I love everybody in management. I have a lot of respect for everybody, so we’ll just have a talk and see what’s best for me and what’s best for the team moving forward.”

(On the new coach being a positive reason for staying) – “At the end of the day, we want to win, that’s what it’s all about. I play hockey because I want to compete in the playoffs and try to win a Stanley cup, so every year that goes by and I’m not getting any younger and we’re sitting here doing year end pressers in April it’s not fun. So, these are all things to take into consideration.”

(On mentoring Sam Montembeault) – “It was fun, it was something different for me. I did a little bit with Schneids [Cory Schneider] when he came up with Vancouver, but I was lot younger back then and now that I’m in the later stages in my career and I see a young kid come up like that, having his first go around in the NHL, playing some games…it was fun for me to try to help him out as best I can and bring me back to my days when I started out. I remember how those things were and the excitement, but also nerve-wracking. You want to make a good impression, so it was fun for me to try to help him out as best as I can.”

(On accepting a smaller workload) – “I think the days of playing 50-60 games a year are a little bit behind me. Those are tough. I’d still love to do it, but the recovery aspect of it is a bit tougher to play three to four games a week is a lot to ask sometimes, but I’ve been a backup before in Vancouver and I understand the role. If I were to play 20 or 30 games a year under the right circumstances, yeah, that would be great. I just want to be part of a team that has a chance to win and be part of the playoffs and help in any way that I can. That’s never really been a problem for me as far as what my decision is concerned. It’s something I know I’m very capable of doing because I’ve done it before and I know what type of role that is and it’s not a role where you’re the backup, but you want to take over the starting job. I understand what that role is and that would be something that I’m comfortable with.”

Vincent Trocheck

(On the hiring of Joel Quenneville as head coach) – “It’s exciting, obviously. He is the second winningest coach in NHL history. He has obviously been around the game for a long time, won three Stanley Cups. It is great to have a veteran coach presence in here to kind of whip us into shape I guess you could say.”

“I’m excited. He’s won three Stanley Cups. He demands a lot from his players and gets a lot of respect from his players.”

(On not being the ‘young team’ anymore) – “We’ve been saying it but I think this definitely shows everybody that now is the time. We aren’t going to be young forever it’s time to start winning now.”

(On the many coaching changes over the years) – There is accountability on us, it’s not just the coaching staff. It’s on us as players to win games. Coaches can’t go out there and do it for us, they can only put so much together. It’s on us now. It says we need to wake up a little bit. Q is here now. It is on us to take what he gives us and put it into action on the ice.”

(On what Quenneville will change) – “Systems will be different. Structure will be different. Hopefully as a team, maturity wise, we can grow over summer and go into training camp next year and start to create a new identity for ourselves.”

(On a new attitude for the team) – “Missing the playoffs is unacceptable, especially with the team that we have and the talent that we have. Going forward, I think now it’s on us to realize what a talented team we do have. Start maturing mentally as a team. Take it to the next level and go on a run.”

(On how tough the season was for him) – “It was difficult. It was my first time in my entire life dealing with a serious injury. Being away from the game for as long as I was, was not easy. Having to deal with it when I got back was tough as well. Obviously, it was a frustrating season for our entire team. Not winning as much as we wanted to. Overall it was just a tough season.”

(On his lack of points this season) – “It was a frustrating season. Points-wise, it is what it is. I don’t even know how many points I had, I missed three months. So I am not really concerned about the production side. I am more worried about getting the team where we need to be, getting us on a winning track. When we are winning games everybody is going to be doing well individually. Like we talked about this year, a lot of guys had career years and we didn’t make the playoffs. Individual stats don’t necessarily mean all that much.

(On talking to Roberto Luongo about coming back) – “I don’t think we need to talk to him I think he wants to play hockey as long as he wants. I think he will be back next year and I think he’s a phenomenal hockey player. Phenomenal guy, just having him in the locker room it means a lot. He demands respect in the locker room. He doesn’t say a lot but whenever he does speak up everybody listens. Obviously, he has been in the league for 20 years. He knows what it takes to be on a winning hockey team. He is a great leader.”

Aaron Ekblad

(On hiring of Joel Quenneville as head coach) – “He has a winning pedigree and we are really excited to have someone with that kind of knowledge and I am going to try and be a sponge and learn as much as I possibly can and be a part of turning things around.”

(On the team playing with more maturity) – “Yes for sure. That maturity is something we want to build on every year and if a coach can help us get to that point in our careers where we are going to take the reins, that is obviously what we want to do. We are excited to make that change.”

(On what he learned about his game this season) – “I’ve learned we can skate with anyone. I guess personally I am trying to build on playing against top lines and learning what guys are doing night in and night out. You have to be a student of the game and figure out what is working for guys and what they are going to try and do that night. As a defenseman you have to be able to bounce back quick. You are going to get beat some times, it happens. These players are making highlight reel plays night in and night out. You’re on the losing side of it being the one having to react to different plays. So it’s all about reading situations and reading plays.”

(On the message before summer) – “Just to be more of a leader for just about everybody. True leaders are hard to come by and we are all trying to build that into our daily lives and into our hockey game. Bringing leadership into that room to the point where each situation throughout the season, good, bad or indifferent is taken care of in a professional manner. That is something we are trying to build as a team.”

(On being a young player but seeing young players filling roles on the Panthers this past season ) – “They are older than me but they are stepping into roles on this team that we need. Weegs [MacKenzie Weegar], Huntsy [Dryden Hunt], Jayce Hawryluk, Brownie [Josh Brown], big strong guys that can handle themselves at this level is exciting to watch. We want them to have as much success as possible.”

(On Joel Quenneville helping develop Duncan Keith and Chris Pronger and how that motivates him) – “Yes absolutely. I am going to be a sponge and learn as much as I possibly can. Try and understand the things that those guys went through during their careers. Having Pronger here we’ve chatted about different things about his career and how it can translate to mine. I am going to try and pick Quenneville’s brain about him and Keith and [Brent] Seabrook and how me and Matty [Mike Matheson] can step into that role. It is something that ever since I have been drafted by Dale has been kind of a pairing and thought I’ve had in my mind. This summer is going to be how me and Matty can take that next step in being an elite pairing and making a difference night in and night out.”

(On the Panthers possible being players in free agency) – “It’s great. As a player you love to hear that. We want to bring players here that want to win and if we can get that in free agency that will be huge. A commitment from ownership is appreciated and it’s huge.”

Keith Yandle

(On the hiring of Joel Quenneville) – “I think it is unreal. A chance to get a Hall of Fame coach, a guy that has won Stanley Cups. Knows how to win. I’ve heard from guys that played for him in Chicago, they loved him. It is definitely an exciting day here.”

(On the message the hiring sends) – “When you get a coach of that caliber, you’ve proven to everybody you want to win. It starts there and I think that will definitely help out too with free agency and getting guys here when they know you have a coach of his caliber.”

(On ownership’s commitment) – “They have set us up to win. Now it is our turn, we have to repay them.”

(On the excitement of this offseason) – “It is definitely exciting. You have a first step like this, you get a guy that you know guys are going to want to come here to play for. I think come July 1st it will be a fun couple of days.”

(On what a coaching change does) – “The confidence they can give your group. You can find out a lot about a team by where the coach is helping you out. Finding ways to win games, something like that makes a big difference.”

(On Quenneville’s style, playing against his Blackhawks teams through the years) – “Just outside looking in, he always seemed like a guy that let his high-end guys play the way that they needed to play but they were always held accountable. With us having guys like Barky [Aleksander Barkov], Troch [Vincent Trocheck], Huby [Jonathan Huberdeau], Dady [Evgenii Dadonov], Hoff [Mike Hoffman], you let those guys play and let them do their thing offensively. I think that will be a good thing.”

(On if they saw Bob Boughner’s firing coming) – “You never really know. Obviously Boogs’ [Bob Boughner] is a great guy and I really enjoyed my time with him. It’s sad to see him go but happy we’re getting a guy like Q.”

(On breaking franchise records) – “I would trade in having a no point season to be playing next week [in the playoffs]. It is kind of one of those things where you are happy you had a good season but also not happy because we aren’t playing next week.”

(On if the power play can continue its success) – Hopefully yeah. I think we have the pieces. When you have guys like Barky, Huby, Troch, guys like that. You probably should have a good power play. But it is tough to score on the power play. It changes every year so you never know.”

(On his ironman streak) – “Not too much, it is kind of one of the things, especially in the offseason not talked about at all. I’m not really doing any media about it, so I don’t really think about it.”

(On going 10 years without missing a game) – “When you say it like that yes. It’s my job, I love coming to work, I love being out there playing. It is the one thing that I definitely take pride in.”

(On getting the team to the playoffs) – “There’s nothing I hate more than the summertime especially when you have the long four or five months, it’s not where you want to be. When you’re watching playoff games, it makes it even worse. We have to grab it and take full responsibility this summer as players and a group too.”

(On Aaron Ekblad’s development) – “The fact that he is only 23 tt’s crazy what he can do offensively and defensively. He is an intense guy too. He plays hard minutes and he is a guy that is going to do that for a long time here.”