TBL @ TOR Post-Game Interview transcripts with Cooper, Stamkos, and Bishop

Transcribed for accessibility: Cooper, Stamkos, and Bishop discuss defeating Toronto 7-3.

Quick note: For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases “you know,” “and,”  “so,” and “but”.

Question: Coach, Steven Stamkos is off to a blazing start this year. Are you noticing differences in him - physically, mentally - compared to say, a year ago?

Cooper: Uh... I don’t know about that. Mentally, obviously - like you can’t be in his head, but I’m sure he’s feeling a little bit better about his contract situation right now than he was a year ago. I think it was good for him to play in the World Cup. He played a high-level hockey on a really, really good team and I think that’s just jump-started where he’s at right now. The other thing is, he’s shooting the puck. When somebody of his caliber keeps shooting pucks, a lot of good things are going to happen and that’s what’s happening for him.

Question: What are your thoughts about the game tonight? A quick start and maybe a bit of a slow part at the end, but came back?

Cooper: I thought what we had to do to win the hockey game - our guys worked hard, we got pucks behind them. We capitalized on a lot of chances. Our goalie needed to make some saves when we were leaking oil a little bit, but I never ever really thought we were not in control of the game. They’ve got a really good young team over there. They’re down 5-1 and there was no quit in that dog. They just kept coming at us. A couple - I thought, it was a little bit of our self-destruction that got them back into the game. In the end, it’s just one of those games where you’ve got the lead and they just keep coming and coming. You’re just trying to hope you can tick some time off the clock. I like the way we managed at the end and the power play was big for us tonight.

Question: Stamkos said he was a little motivated by some early boos from the crowd. Was it a surprise he responded the way he did?

Cooper: Yeah, well, you give the guy chances like he had tonight and he’s going to score a bunch of those. I was really happy for him because he’s - I’m sure it was a tough decision for him, the decision he made - plus, this is his hometown. Fans pay a ticket, they’re entitled to do what they want, but I think Stammer’s a good son to Toronto.

Question: The courage shown by your goalie tonight after he took that nasty shot to the mouth...

Cooper: [chuckles] I haven’t seen it yet, I guess there’s a really good picture of his teeth embedded somewhere. I couldn’t believe it, because I just thought he took it off the head. Then our trainer came to the bench and he opened his hand, and I couldn’t believe - I couldn’t believe how big Ben’s teeth actually are [laughs]. Gutty effort. We talked to him and it was just I guess the way the vibration knocked his teeth loose. Apparently they were fake anyway [smiles].

Question: It’s pretty easy to see what Hedman can do with his physical gifts, but how much is he getting done with on the mental side - just the smarts these days?

Cooper: [laughs] Everybody watch out. Well, the one thing about Heddy is - a lot of the way we go is how he goes, and vice versa. He really had his legs moving tonight. He can - just his gap, with his range - when he’s on top of the opposing team, it’s just really hard to get around him. Even if you chip a puck by him, there’s not many guys in the league that can out-race him to a puck. He had his legs tonight. You even look on the goal he scored - he was up, back, up, back, and now he’s down at the crease and bangs one home. When he’s got his skating legs, he’s an elite player in this league.

Question: Have you seen his [Hedman’s] confidence grow year over year since you’ve been here?

Cooper: He’d been in the league a few years before I got here. I do know, I think we’re extremely fortunate as a staff because we caught him when he was coming into his own. We probably didn’t have to go through the growing pains previous staffs had to. Maybe a little bit the way we play kind of fits his bill a little bit, because we really turn him loose. When you kind of have that freedom, I think it helps your confidence. That’s what’s helped him so far.

Question: Coop, you’ve had the chance to coach and be around Auston [Matthews] obviously in the World Cup. He had a pretty tough first period going head-to-head against Stammer’s line, but the way that he just kept coming back and coming back and coming back. I mean, does it show a little bit of maturity?

Cooper: Well, to be honest, both the Leafs [who played on Team North America in the World Cup] - Rielly and Matthews - I’m a big fan of both of them. The one thing about Auston - he’s a really confident kid. He’s confident in his abilities. I’m sure when he played in the World Cup and had the success he had, I think it helped drive him and how he’s going to be in this league. It’s no surprise he’s doing what he’s doing. The thing is, it doesn’t matter really how good you are. There’s still little nuances of the game - who you’re playing with, other players tendencies - and you don’t pick that up until you’ve played against them a little bit. He’s going to learn, because his hockey IQ is off the charts. That’s a great get for the Leafs, because he’s going to be a big time player here for a long time.

Quick note: For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases “you know,” “obviously,” and “I mean”.

Question: Early on, you kind of set a tone for the rest of the game.

Stamkos: Yeah, we wanted to come out strong. I think that was the first game that we’ve scored in the first period. So it was something that we talked about before, was getting off to a good start, especially on the road that’s always important. Definitely, like you said, it set the tone for the game and put us up and we were able to hang on.

Question: You guys maybe took your foot off the gas a little bit after you got the big lead?

Stamkos: Yeah, I think that’s human nature a little bit. You’re obviously - you don’t play a lot of games where you’re up 4-0 or 5-1, but you’ve got to give them some credit. They came hard. They’re at the point where they need to go all out and try to produce. Maybe we sat back on our heels a little bit.

Question: Steven, your goalie showed a lot of courage tonight. He took a nasty shot in the mouth to lose some teeth and didn’t miss a second.

Stamkos: Yeah, that’s great to see. It gives kind of a boost to the team when Bish [chuckles] takes one off the face. I think he lost a couple crowns, but he was solid in there. He’s going to go under the radar, but he made a lot of saves, and a lot of key saves, especially when it was tight at the end there; they had that power play. He showed why he’s one of the best tonight.

Question: Steven, is this the best physically you’ve felt in awhile to start the season?

Stamkos: Yeah, since coming off the leg injury and then what happened at the end of last year. I think it helped playing in the World Cup and getting some games under your belt and feeling confident. I think this year too, with no distractions, just coming to the rink with a clear mind. It all helps into having fun and being confident. I definitely feel that way right now.

Question: Does this building [the Air Canada Centre in Toronto] feel different since the World Cup?

Stamkos: Not really. I think for me any time I come into this building, it’s obviously fun with friends and family. I think having played the World Cup here, it was a lot of fun. I think you’re more familiar having played every game here - just getting to the rink again, it feels like we never left since then. It was nice to get off to a quick start tonight. Any time, any game, any building - you get off to a good start and you score on your first shift, your legs suddenly feel a little lighter for the rest of the game.

Question: Four point night. Does it mean any more to do it here?

Stamkos: Well it just means more because of, like I said, who’s in the stands. A lot of friends and family in the stands. Other than that, it’s another game. I just want to contribute to wins. I said that before the game. It’s another road game for us, we’re on a long trip to start the year, and we started 2-0 which is something we’re proud of.

Question: How many tickets did you have to reserve?

Stamkos: Not a lot. I think after the first couple of years of being in the league, people realize that when the schedule comes out, get your tickets early because there’s not a lot going around [smiles]. It’s not as much as you think.

Question: Did you see Hedman coming in that play that didn’t result in a goal? Between the legs there, that pass that you made?

Stamkos: Yeah, well of course, yeah [smiles].

Question: Was that perhaps one you guys had worked on?

Stamkos: No, it just happened. It was a great play into the zone. I saw him coming; I thought that was the quickest way to get it to him. I’m definitely glad he scored on the next opportunity, because I might have been a little upset with him if he missed that [smiles].

Quick note: For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases “you know,” “obviously,” and “I mean”.

Bishop: You definitely see the skill on the team and the future they might have.

Question: You’re off tomorrow . Are you going to get some dental work done there?

Bishop: Yeah, I guess we’ll have to see what’s going on here [chuckles]. We have the day off tomorrow, so we’ve got to go from there.

Question: [inaudible] Obviously the spotlight was on him [Stamkos] in his hometown. He certainly lived up to the bill.

Bishop: Yeah, he was little skeptical about what kind of - what they would say about him today, so I think he did a good job. He comes out and does his work every single night. Tonight’s no different. I know it’s a special place for him to play in front of his family. I think he did a good job of kind of answering the bell.

Question: You’ve taken on this team 12 times before this. Could you notice maybe from this Toronto team, that they were coming at you hard?

Bishop: Yeah, they definitely have the skill to put some numbers up. It’s just going to be about keeping the numbers down. They definitely have a lot of skill, a lot of good young players. I think we play them a few more times, so I’m just happy to get the win tonight.

Question: What exactly happened on that play? Did the puck just come through and get the front teeth?

Bishop: No, I don’t know. I didn’t really see the replay. I just lost my front teeth [chuckles] so we’ll actually replay it. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I just felt both my teeth pop out. That’s about it.

Question: During the rest of the game, are you just running your tongue over where that...

Bishop: Yeah, a bit, yeah. Exactly what I’ve been doing [laughs]. Kind of feeling it quite a bit, but it’s not too painful. It’s alright

Question: Any thought of coming out at all?

Bishop: No, there was no reason to. It felt okay, so there was no reason to come out.

Question: It’s not that painful for you right now?

Bishop: It’s throbbing a bit, but we’ll take care of that.