A few of the Los Angeles Kings were available for interviews on their first of two off-days between Game 1 and Game 2 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown were all able to give their insights on different topics.
Here's what they had to say:
NHL Public Relations
June 5, 2014
2014 STANLEY CUP FINAL OFF-DAY TRANSCRIPT
An interview with:
Q. Jeff, what is the big difference between this team and the team that won the Cup?
JEFF CARTER: Not a lot. I mean, we made it a little more difficult on ourselves this year. We've had to really dig down and battle back in a lot of series.
For the most part it's the same team. A few additions here and there, but not much different.
Q. Some of the line shifts and changes that coach made, did you feel a little out of sync in that first period?
KYLE CLIFFORD: Yeah, wasn't the start we wanted. Decided to make line changes. Just went from there. Everybody just went about their game, tried to make it better.
JEFF CARTER: Yeah, I mean, I think we started out slow. We didn't have our legs I think from puck drop. When you get down 2-0, you got to do something to kind of get everybody going.
Flip-flopped a little bit there. It started working for us, so we kept going with it.
Q. When you don't have the legs early, do you have any advance warning that's going to happen? Do you know before you go out?
JEFF CARTER: No, no. I mean, they had a pretty good game plan to come out and start the game. They came at us with a lot of speed. They were throwing pucks at the net from everywhere. Seems like we were just kind of standing around watching them.
But, no, I mean, that's just kind of the way it went. We battled through it and ended up with the win.
Q. Jeff, Darryl talked about the fact that you have so many guys from 2012, but five or six guys in their first Cup. I'm curious the conversations you may have had with them?
JEFF CARTER: They're smart kids. They know what's at stake here. There's not much that really needs to be said to them. They get it.
I think one thing you can say to them is, Don't let it slip away because you don't know if you'll ever get back. It's not easy to get here.
They understand that. Thought they were good last night.
Q. Kyle, it wasn't so long ago that if a team got down 2-0, you could turn the lights out in a playoff game. Describe the emotion on the bench or in the dressing room when you get behind, what maybe allows this team to come back whenever these things happen to you?
KYLE CLIFFORD: I think with our leadership, we got a lot of leadership throughout the locker room. Guys kind of rally around them. They're able to put the team on their back, try to get a better outcome.
Q. Both of you have seen Quicky make huge saves in his career. Give me a description of what went through your mind.
JEFF CARTER: I'm glad he made that save because I was the one that chipped it back to the D man.
It's a pretty good feeling as a player to know we have Quicky back there. If something like that does happen, we know he's got our back. We know what he's capable of.
I was definitely glad he was back there.
KYLE CLIFFORD: Yeah, he's a confident goaltender. We have a lot of confidence in him. We know he's going to make a couple big saves every night for us, so...
Q. Jeff, you were talking about your linemates. Do you feel like you have a leadership role with them? What do you think of that 70s line. And, Kyle, battling back all the time, maybe what it's like for this team to not panic?
JEFF CARTER: For myself personally, it's been a lot of fun to play with them. They bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to our team. They're out there on the ice having fun, working hard.
Like I said earlier, they're smart kids. They understand how it works, what needs to be done at this time of the year. There's not really much that has to be said to them.
Q. What do you think about the nickname?
JEFF CARTER: I mean, it is what it is (laughter).
KYLE CLIFFORD: You know, like I said, we got a lot of leadership. We're a team that's just never going to go away. Doesn't matter what the score is, we're going to play our hardest, do what we do best, so...
Q. Jeff, when you won in 2012, you were not exactly known as a goal-scoring team. If there is a difference in this team, it might be in the goal-scoring prowess of the team.
JEFF CARTER: It hasn't always been easy for us, even this year. I think we were 26th in the league through the regular season.
I don't know if it's just a matter of guys bearing down more on their chances or what it is. But I think with the addition of Gabby coming in, he's brought a lot to that line. He and Kopy read off each other well. Bringing Tyler and Tanner, they're real skilled players. A lot of speed, skill to our team. All three of those guys give us a little boost in that aspect.
Q. What do you do on a day like today?
JEFF CARTER: Just come to the rink, get a good sweat in on the bike, stretch, regroup, get focused on Game 2.
Q. Is there a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing with Williams?
JEFF CARTER: Like Cliffy talked about, he's a leader on our team, vocal guy in the room. You can see the passion that comes out come game time. He knows when to turn it on, knows when to turn it off. He's a real big part of our team.
Q. Kyle, two years ago when you were hurt in the playoffs, how difficult was it not always being on the ice being able to contribute? How does it make this playoff run feel?
KYLE CLIFFORD: Obviously you always want to be playing. It's just great to be a part of that run. Even not playing, you get to learn a little something about what it takes to win.
We had a great group of guys. Fun to be a part of. Just gets you motivated to go out and want to do it.
Q. Jeff, you've been around Mike Richards a long time. What has it been like to see his role altered?
JEFF CARTER: Yeah, I mean, that's just the way it goes sometimes. I think Mike, if he's not scoring enough points, he's doing a lot more for the team that maybe a lot of people don't see.
He's a big part of our dressing room. He does a lot of little things on the ice really well that translate into wins. The average hockey fan might not notice that, but we do. He brings a lot to our team.
Q. Jeff, three straight long playoff runs. Do you have a blueprint toward building up through the season towards this time of year?
JEFF CARTER: I mean, for us the division title or Western Conference championship doesn't mean too much if you don't get the ultimate goal.
We come in every year at training camp focused on winning the Stanley Cup. That's our mindset from day one.
Coaches do a great job of keeping us set on that plan, along with our leaders, the players in the room. Everybody knows what we need to do to get it done. We go out and do it.
An interview with:
Q. What was it like last night playing against some of your former teammates?
MARIAN GABORIK: It was a little weird to start out with. But as soon as the puck dropped, it was playing like any other team.
Obviously it was a huge win for us. Wasn't pretty one, but we'll take it for sure.
Q. Do you ever shake your head wondering, How do we keep falling behind and have to keep coming back and being able to do it as often as you have?
MARIAN GABORIK: Yeah, I don't know, it's not a perfect situation. We can't always get away with this, losing 2-0 right from the get-go. We have to make sure we learn from it and just have to have a better start next game because it could have been 3-0 easily.
Quicky made some great saves. We were able to come back. We just have to play like we did in third period.
Q. As a relatively new member of the team, how would you describe what the Kings do well that has brought so much success for them?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, I think we have four centers that maybe on the other team would be top two centers. We roll four lines. We have great depth with great goaltending.
That's a big part. I would say that would be it.
Q. You waited a long time to get to this point, to have this chance. Three wins away from a Stanley Cup, is it hard not to think about it?
MARIAN GABORIK: It feels great to be in Finals. I was in league since 2000. It's been a long time coming. I'm grateful to be in this position. Of course, last night was very important for us.
We know it's not going to be easy down the road. We have to play a better game overall in terms to be able to beat this team.
I think we got away with one yesterday. We just have to be better in Game 2.
Q. Dean talked about when he made the trade, he had the opportunity to be able to talk to you, your desire to want to play. What made L.A. such a good fit for you?
MARIAN GABORIK: I don't know. When I got traded, I wanted to fit in in terms of on the ice and off the ice. This team has been together for couple years here. 90% of those guys won Cup two years ago.
When you're coming to a team that has won and been contender past few years, you want to make sure you fit in, buy into the system, try and contribute. That was my focus.
Also off the ice it's important to be part of the team, to have the team take you in, to feel a part of it. It feels great.
Q. Mike Richards took you around. The guys welcomed you immediately. Talk about that.
MARIAN GABORIK: Yeah, I mean, I started on the road which was good, too, to get to know the guys a little bit better off the ice. We were in Canada for a week. It was great.
Yeah, him, Kopy, Willie, those guys really helped me out. You could tell that this team has a great locker room. Without that I don't think they would be able to be a winning team.
Q. I think in the off-season back home you live with Chara and Hossa. If you touch the Cup or not, you were probably happy for them but at the same time wondering what that would be like?
MARIAN GABORIK: I went to all of those parties. That maybe gives you that extra motivation to see those guys winning the Cup.
No, I didn't touch it, by the way. I was very happy for them. That gives you that extra motivation, seeing guys living on the same street, to have them win it, give you extra jolt, extra motivation to be right with that group.
Q. What surprised you about the Rangers last night?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, I mean, nothing really surprised me because everybody knows, and I know, that they have a really balanced team, great goaltending. Their speed, you could see that. We just have to adjust to that, not give those guys that type of room to skate with.
Our special teams and power play have to be better. We have to watch out for those loose pucks. Speedy guys like Hagelin definitely took advantage of that last night. We have to do better stuff there. There are few things we have to clear up, as well.
An interview with:
Q. You've turned over half of your top six forwards. Can both of you speak about what the additions of Gaborik and Carter has meant to this team?
ANZE KOPITAR: Well, they've obviously stepped up in a big way for us. I think Gabby coming in at the deadline gave us an extra weapon that we needed, didn't necessarily have in the past.
Usually for a run like this, you need young guys to step up. A couple years ago that was King and Nolan came up, made an impact. This year it was Tyler and Tanner. They've been doing a great job for us.
DUSTIN BROWN: Only thing I'll add, talk about the turnover. I think it's how this group that's been here for years and years can bring guys in and implement them in and make them just feel comfortable, allow them to play the game they want to play.
Gabby is probably the best example. We knew what we were getting. It's just making him comfortable, pushing him in the right direction the way we want to play, then his game takes care of itself.
Q. Some of your teammates earlier and coach were talking about being sluggish. Are you two worried about going to the well and pulling it off like you have done before?
ANZE KOPITAR: Last night certainly wasn't the start we wanted. The first period was sloppy more often than not.
But we've done it how many times? We came back and managed to win the game. I think that's obviously a positive that we did pull it off.
But we can't put ourselves in a hole against a team like that where they keep coming and they have a lot of firepower that can hurt you pretty quick.
Definitely want to have better starts in a couple days and we'll see what happens after that.
Q. Dustin, you've been around long enough to know there are a number of times in the playoffs where a 2-0 deficit pretty much closes the door for that night. Why do you think team has been able to overcome those kinds of deficits?
DUSTIN BROWN: League wide it's hard to pick one or two reasons why it's happening. For our team, it's just a result of us being together for a long time. I think that goes a longer ways than most people think.
When it gets really hard, really tough, you know the guy next to you very well. You know what he's going to do in those types of situations. You can rely on each other in ways that a team that is just forming or getting together, you don't necessarily have that trust built up to weather the storm when you need to.
Q. What is the mindset on the bench during the game when you've fallen behind 2-0? Are you looking at each other like, Are you kidding me, this is happening again?
DUSTIN BROWN: We're very comfortable in any situation we're in as a group. It's been said more than enough that enough's enough. We find ourselves in these holes.
I think we're comfortable. It's definitely not where we want to be. I think going back to Game 3 against Chicago, the lead, not only does it give us breathing room in the game, but emotionally, mentally, it gives you a breather. Not that you sit back or relax in a game, but you don't have that need to dig down deep and find a way to pull out a game again game after game. Again, it goes to our starts.
Q. Los Angeles and New York, two biggest cities in the United States. Hockey is not real popular. How do you feel the series will help sell hockey in the United States?
DUSTIN BROWN: I think having the coast-to-coast, TV markets in the biggest cities, always goes to people getting more interested. I think regardless of the sport, when you have two big cities playing each other, the atmosphere and the excitement, the city-wide pride to beat New York or beat L.A., it definitely magnifies the game of hockey.
I think it's great for the sport.
Q. Do you ever get a chance to step back and look at the big picture of what you're doing, two trips to the Finals in three years?
ANZE KOPITAR: Right now I don't think is the time to do that. Everybody is obviously pretty focused on the next game, getting ready for the next game.
But after this season, I'm sure that there will be a time for each and every guy that looks back, reflects on everything that's been going on the last couple years.
DUSTIN BROWN: I'll add to that. The only time you look back in the playoffs is after each round. When you advance, you have about 24 hours to think about it. That's kind of how you do it. You hit the reset button, look at what you just did, then refocus.
Q. A number of the guys on the team talked last night feeling like you were wading through mud for the first period at least. Do you have any advance warning it might be like that? When that happens, how tough is it to get the legs going?
ANZE KOPITAR: I think, yeah, each and every guy has a sense of how he's going to feel that night, that game. I didn't have the sense that we were going to have a little bit slower legs. It didn't look in warm-up that way.
Again, it wasn't the start that we wanted or needed. The guys just really showed the character yet again to battle through no matter what, slow legs, sloppy play, their good start.
In the end of the day, you know what counts is we got the win and now we got to look ahead again.
Q. Dustin, a lot of people are being exposed to Drew Doughty's personality for the first time. Is he more out there this time around than he was two years ago?
DUSTIN BROWN: I think with Drew, it's the progression of a player both on the ice and off the ice. I think people first heard about him in the 2010 Olympics. Since then we won. Then Sochi, now we're back in the Final.
He's become a much better player than he was four years ago. Like I said, the intangibles. He's becoming more of a leader both on and off the ice. I think that's why you see the emotion come out of him.
He's starting to take on more of a leadership role, which is expected and also good that he's starting to want to do it.
Q. Anze, last night Wayne Gretzky said you're the third best player in the world in his eyes behind Crosby and Toews. Do you like that or do you think he under-valued you?
ANZE KOPITAR: I'll take any compliment from that guy. Even if he said I was the fifth in the rankings, I would have taken it.
It's obviously very nice to hear things about that. I've heard it for the first time right now. I didn't really pay attention to anything after last night.
It's nice to hear it. Can't really get caught up in that stuff.
Q. Dustin, teams talk about winning division titles. You don't have one during this three-year run. It seems like you are far more interested in building yourselves up throughout the course of the year to this point. Do you have a blueprint toward doing that?
DUSTIN BROWN: Not necessarily a blueprint. But I think there's a mentality that goes, you know, do you want to be a division champion or a Stanley Cup champion. There's a mentality to that.
The way we play the game, it's a tough game to play. There's teams that get far more points than us during the regular season. But when it comes to playoff time, our type of style, our type of game we play, the players that we have, we become a really hard team to beat four times in seven games.
It's funny. When you look at Staples, we don't have banners all the way across, but we have the banner we want. We're in the process or in search of that next banner.
Q. When you have a guy like Gaborik that wants to be in Los Angeles, talk about how that helps.
ANZE KOPITAR: I think he fit really well. You know, just like Brownie said before, we have a room where there's a lot of character, a lot of good leaders.
For Gabby to come in our room, I think he felt comfortable pretty quick. That's obviously a big thing and a big reason why he's feeling comfortable on the ice, too. He'd be probably the best guy to ask obviously why is that.
But I just think this group is so close together, it doesn't matter if that's a deadline deal or a new guy coming in right off the start, you know, it seems like the transition, we make it a little bit easier on the guys for that transition.
Q. Jeff was talking about Justin Williams flipping the switch. Talk about that.
DUSTIN BROWN: I've been playing with Justin for the last amount of years. He's very laid back and focused at the same time. It's kind of hard to describe.
I mean, he's been known obviously to play big in big games. I think it just comes down to his focus, having that even keel. He's one of the looser guys on our team before the game. You can see a buildup as we approach game time. He gets more and more focused, more serious.
Like I said, he's a big game player.
Q. Gaborik said the biggest thing for him to join a team that won the Cup was he needed to feel good off the ice. He said when he joined you in Canada, you took him around. Explain for this team how important it is and what is the makeup about this team off the ice that carries onto the ice?
DUSTIN BROWN: I think it's cliché, but you talk about teams that are close off the ice. Part of it's we've been together for years. I can't remember what year it was, but we traded for Stolly and Greener. Since then, there's five, six, seven of us that have been together. We've kind of added to that each year.
It was probably right before we made the playoffs, we had everybody come out and work out before the playoffs. That's voluntarily coming out.
We're close off the ice. Probably a lot of people say that. I think it's an extension of that. When you have a group of guys that get along really, really well, you get a guy like Gaborik coming in, it's easy to just mesh him into the group because there's no group of players over there. There's none of that on our team.
On the road we have a lot of time. You're not hanging out with the same two, three guys every time. There are no cliques on our team. When a new guy comes in, he doesn't have to go hang out with those guys or these guys.
Q. Dustin, was it that way when you first came? Was the different when you first came here?
DUSTIN BROWN: When I first came here, it was very different, partly because the league was different. We had an older team when I first came in. Just how it played out, like the turnover was extreme each and every year. If you look at our rosters from my first year, I think Armstrong, I can't remember the last year he played here, but that was probably the last remaining teammate from my first year.
Turning over every year, it's hard to get to know guys on that type of level that you need. I've said this before. This core group sticks together for hundreds of games in many years.
Q. Anze, a non-hockey question. You're wearing the Jay's hat? Are you a fan?
ANZE KOPITAR: Yeah, I snagged it from Drew Doughty.
Q. Do you watch baseball?
ANZE KOPITAR: I like to watch baseball once in a while. I'm not going to watch all the games, all 162. But, yeah, I'll sit down and watch it, just relax.
Q. It's been a while since you've seen the Rangers. What did you learn from last night's game that maybe you didn't know or stressed the point what you need to adjust?
DUSTIN BROWN: Their best chances came off of their speed. We need to find a way, much like we did against Chicago, in a similar way, Saad in particular gave us trouble in Chicago, he's fast. It's about getting in their way, also managing the puck a lot better than we did.
I think that can eliminate some of the threat of their speed. They're still going to have pockets and space to do it throughout the game. But where we can limit them is through the neutral zone, forcing them to dump the puck in more.
Q. On this whole idea of pulling games out. A lot of teams get down, they're dependent on two or three players to pull games out. With you guys, it seems like it's somebody different every single night. What is it about the personality of this team that allows everyone to have the potential to be that hero on a given night?
ANZE KOPITAR: Well, I think just the depth we obviously have is what you're talking about. I think just believe that anybody can do it. It's not like when we get down, everybody looks at, I don't know, Carts to go do it. It's everybody taking pride, chipping in, helping each other out.
We have always played best hockey when you push and pull guys together. That's what it is, and that's what we've been doing so far.
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