Lamoriello and I discussed many topics, including seeing the growth in quality organizational depth, the status of Albany’s roster and attendance issues in Trenton.
Mike Ashmore: How rewarding is it for you to see the depth in the organization kind of build and build to where it’s gotten to this point — essentially the work you’ve done paying off…
Chris Lamoriello: “Well, I don’t know if you look at it as rewarding, but certainly with our scouting staff and the way the last couple years have gone, we feel very good about the type of the depth that we do have. We think it’s our youngest solid core that we’ve had in a number of years throughout the organization. It’s something that in the mid-90’s, late-90’s, we were fortunate to have and unfortunately for a number of different reasons, it’s been depleted whether it’s via trades or trading of draft picks. So it’s nice to be able to see the type of youth that we have and certainly the potential that we think we have.”
MA: You look at the stockpile of players you have up at Albany right now, and a lot of people would consider it to be a problem…but realistically, is it not necessarily a bad problem to have?
CL: “You look at it two ways. It’s good this time of year to be able to have all of your young players with you, because there’s a lot of practices and a lot of teaching, but there’s not a lot of games. And unfortunately, every night you’ve got to make some decisions to sit some players out that you normally would not want to have out. But because of the light schedule, it really works that way. You try to use it to your advantage, and you try to expose the players to as much as you possibly can. That’s been the focus.”
MA: Kory Nagy was sent down (yesterday)…do you anticipate similar situations taking place early in the season so guys can get some actual playing time like Nagy will down here?
CL: “Great question. I think that’s something day to day that we look at. If we feel that there’s a particular player that we need to put in a different environment, we’ll do that. Certainly with Kory, we wanted to make sure that he was getting exposed to as much as he could be developmentally and put him in the best position to succeed.”
MA: Is it kind of a difficult balance weighing the pros and cons between having a player sit at a higher level or playing at a lower one?
CL: “It is at times. I think what it is, it’s a day to day and you treat each situation independently. You want to make sure you’re putting these players in the best situation you can. We do have a number of players in Albany right now. They’re all not healthy, we do have a few injuries. So you try and balance what you have with respect to players that are able to play, players that aren’t quite ready or players that are injured. That’s something that goes into the decision-making as well.”
MA: Do you anticipate the group that’s here right now will be the group that starts the season (tomorrow)?
CL: “As of today, I think that’s where we are. I think we’ve had a pretty good training camp. We liked the way the exhibition season went. Right now, we do have a couple injuries, but nothing we expect to be long-term. We feel good about the group that we have here right now. I think it’s a young group, which you’ve been accustomed to seeing the past couple of years, but it’s a group that we expect to be in playoff position and challenging for a division title.”
MA: Is there anyone inparticular who you’re excited about seeing down here this year?
CL: “Quite frankly, we’re excited to see all of them. We’re excited to see the returning players, and to see how much they’ve grown with the experience they have and the responsibility that we hope they’re ready for. I think any time you bring new players to the organization, there’s excitement. We do have a lot of new players this year. Really, it’s everyone. That’s what I’m excited about…for Kevin, being a first year coach and for Vinny, knowing the environment, for them to work with all of these guys and grow the ones that are young and mature and nourish the ones that have been here.”
MA: I think the last thing I have for you is from more of an off-ice side of things, but I’m not doing my job if I don’t ask…it’s really no secret that it’s been difficult trying to fill the seats here the past couple of seasons. What are you guys doing to try to turn that around and has it been frustrating to see that from your perspective?
CL: “I think the biggest thing for me — and some of these questions, I won’t be able to answer because my responsibilities are more with the hockey — but for us, the best thing we can do is put the best team in the ice that we can. I think the players don’t think about — I certainly don’t think about — the people that are not here. We think about the people that are here, and that’s our focus. We think we have great fans in Trenton. We think they’re a fan that’s been accustomed to great hockey. They were fortunate to see a championship, and we expect to give them another championship at some point. That’s our goal starting Saturday night, to get off on the right foot. Again, we think these are fans that, in our opinion, are great fans at this level and this league. We worry about the people that are here and hopefully do as well as we can on the ice and give them something to cheer about each and every night.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com