Media day was quite a site at the United Center on Thursday. Both teams, separately of course, available to a seemingly endless sea of reporters that have descended on Chicago.
Each player was given a small podium or table to sit at while he could be interviewed by waves of reporters. The result? Many of the same questions asked over and over again. Somehow Dustin Byfuglien gave different answers to the same question. That’s a joke. Well, sort of.
Here are some highlights. First, the Hawks:
Speaking of redundant questions Marian Hossa was asked which one he’s gotten more: His lack of goals in the postseason or the fact that this is his third finals appearance in a row without a win.
“I think it’s been pretty even,” Hossa said with a laugh. “Those two questions I’ve been asked the most.”
And which one bothers him more?
“Definitely scoring the goals but most important is the four wins,” he said. “I hope I can contribute offensively.”
Not far from Hossa sat Andrew Ladd, available for the first time since injuring what appeared to be his left shoulder in Game 4 against San Jose. He says he’s day to day but he also had some insight into a Peter Laviolette coached team. Ladd won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 when Laviolette was the head coach.
“What you notice is pace of the game,” Ladd said. “They play at a high level. They’re not afraid to trade chances. Its one thing he stressed a lot in Carolina. You have to take chances in a game.”
That sounds like a system the Hawks will enjoy competing against.
Ben Eager agreed with Adam Burish’s assessment from the day before: the Flyers will play edgier than maybe any team they’ve seen so far, but like Burish, Eager isn’t going to be stupid about it.
“It’s not going to be dirty,” Eager said. “You can’t take a bad penalty in the Stanley Cup Finals. I think there is going to be a lot of hard, honest play.”
Duncan Keith had the media masses attending to him and it can’t be easy for him. A half hour of answering questions with no front teeth is a difficult proposition. So is eating.
“I haven’t had any problems eating,” Keith said. “Well, I shouldn’t say that. I’ve been able to get the food down but it’s been more of a struggle eating the food, but it still ends up in my stomach.”
The timing could not have been worse.
“Just before all the media comes in I get my teeth knocked out,” he said. “I guess that’s something more to talk about.”
John Madden has become a go to guy in the playoffs. A coach in training, he could break down a pee wee team. He took a stab at the Flyers.
“They can play it any way you want,” Madden said of Philadelphia. “They can bring it physically or use their speed. They can trap it up. They have a lot of depth. A lot of similarities to what we have over here.”
Trap it up? That sounds like Nashville or Vancouver in Game 5. Wasn’t that the game Patrick Kane said the Canucks used a fake forecheck to fool them.
“Let’s get one thing clear,” Madden declared. “I’ve never heard anyone say fake forecheck until Kaner brought it up. That’s new to me. I bug him about it all the time. Fake forecheck. C’mon.”
Madden has been through it all having won two Cups with New Jersey and he says he’s still getting the late call for tickets.
“You still get people calling you the morning of,” Madden explained. “‘Hey you got any extra tickets laying around?’ They think you get an abundance of tickets, like I’m going to hand them out like sweetarts. No, you try to handle all that stuff prior to the day before [the game].”
Finally, there are those still wondering about Kim Johnsson. Stan Bowman was asked to expound on his injury and why he isn’t with the team.
“We really don’t talk about injuries,” Bowman said. “We haven’t done that. It’s not a good time to start now. When guys are injured they are not available to play so that’s that. Unfortunately, that’s part of the game. You see it night after night. Guys go down with different injuries. It’s unfortunate but that’s part of hockey. You deal with it and you move on with the guys that are healthy.”
The Hawks moved out and the Flyers moved in for their turn with the fourth estate. Former Hawk Michael Leighton is taking things in stride.
“I’m confident but I’m not overconfident,” he said. “I know I’m not the reason we won the last series. Defensive hockey wins games. We’re a very good defensive team.”
Leighton has fond memories of playing in Chicago and like most he enjoys the noise during the anthem, however, when he played here several years ago, there wasn’t much noise.
“We had a couple games against Detroit that were sold out,” Leighton said. “Half were probably Detroit fans but when it’s a good crowd its very loud.”
The captain of the Flyers, Mike Richards had many people around him as well. Soft spoken off the ice, he’s a fierce competitor on it. He had high praise for his counterpart on the Hawks and repeated what we already know about number 19.
“[It’s] How he handles himself,” Richards said. “How tenacious he is on the puck and how hard he works off the ice. He’s a very hockey oriented person. He lives and breathes hockey and that’s a good thing. It’s why he’s had so much success.”
Sarcasm and Chris Pronger go hand in hand. He and Brent Seabrook bonded at the Canada’s Olympic camp in Calgary before the season. In fact, they were roommates and Seabrook credited Pronger with helping him along.
“It was his first one,” Pronger said. “He was a little nervous as to be expected…I didn’t know him at all. I talked to him about the game. We would come back after practice and talk about things. Different situations and stuff.”
“Sharp Dog, eh? He’s scary,” Carter joked. “Highly skilled guy with speed to kill. You give him time and space he’ll make you pay.”
“Eags is a good man. I’ve seen that beard before. We’re actually really good friends. He’s a heart and soul guy. He bangs and crashes and does whatever it takes for the team.”
And that ended media day for the 2010 Stanley Cup finals.