The last bit of business for the 2013-14 season happened Thursday when the Lightning conducted exit interviews and everyone parted ways. It's a lot like the last day of school. There are no yearbooks to be signed but everyone wishes each other farewell with hopes of seeing one another again in the fall. All the classes are over but sometimes you still learn stuff (Dave Mishkin knows my name!!!), mostly from the final addresses to the media from players and staff. Here are some choice comments from head coach Jon Cooper...
- "For us, the message is 'the playoffs are the norm now'. It shouldn't be, 'well, are we going to make the playoffs this year?' That should be our minimum standard, and 'how far are we going to advance in the playoffs now?'.That's where our attitude has to be."
- "I'm sure there's going to be stern competition to make our team next year, which is what we want. Nobody's penciled into a spot."
- "If I look at our team as a whole, I think we've got a lot of fire, a lot of youth. Our team speed is in the upper echelon in the league. I think defensively, we could have been a little harder. And that's not just on our defensemen, that's our forwards (too). I think we play really hard, but sometimes we're not as hard to play against as we needed to be and I think if we'd advanced in the playoffs, it would have been much more difficult for us to keep going, just because we had a little bit more 'flash-and-dash' in our game than we did 'grind-it-out'. And when you get to the playoffs, there are times when you have to grind out games. That's something you can't change overnight and I think you get better at that as players get older."
- "Maybe that's something you learn as a coach. Maybe once you're in, you don't press as much down the stretch. Try to get guys a little more healthy. Although some of the things that happened were complete flukes and out of our control. But we just didn't want to be in a position where we had to switch it on for the playoffs. With a young group, we felt, 'we've gotta keep going here and try to ride it on through'. Unfortunately, injuries got the best of us and we couldn't do it."
- "I really, really hope Ryan (Callahan) considers us as a place he wants to spend the rest of his career. Because as long I'm coaching this team, I want Ryan Callahan on the bench. I don't know how much stronger I can be about that."
- "Lindy doesn't have a whole bunch of games in pro hockey. He was thrown into an unbelievably tough situation at the end. But I don't think anybody can sit here and say, 'well, Anders Lindback cost us the series'. I think we all watched. Are there goals he may have wanted back? Sure. But are there saves that he made that maybe would have gone in on somebody else? They might have. We didn't play our best hockey in games one and two. And sure, we may have needed a save from Lindy at one point but we could have used a lot of things from the rest of our guys at one point. And it was just tough to go back down 0-2 and three and four unfolded the way they did . It was kind of taken out of everybody's hands. He's going to have to get better. Ultimately that'll be a decision for management. I can sit here and say all I want that I truly want that kid on our team next year."
- "We have less holes to fill, I guess. So now we can focus in on some directions.a little bit more knowing, okay, we're good in a bunch of these areas. And now we'll have a plan of which direction our team needs to go."
- "There's no fluff with those kids.I didn't know them in juniors but I knew them as rookies in the American League and then when they became stars in the American League and now coming to the NHL, they've never changed. I've never watched these players walk in with brand new suits, brand new cars or brand new anything. They're just the same guys that show up for work every day and give you everything they have. It's pretty cool. You know, these kids are making more money than they probably ever have and eventually the're going to make more money than that but they're well-grounded kids who keep things in perspective. Regardless, I think if they were getting salary or not, they'd play the game as hard as they do and it's great to have kids like that around." .