Tampa Bay Sports Day

Joel Quenneville Winter Classic Interview

Q. Wanted to ask you about, at the end there when you were skating with the USA Warriors, I know you have done that quite a bit, but what does it mean when you get to go out there and do that?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: It’s special. It’s a lot of fun. They look forward to it and our guys really enjoy it. These three games we have had with these guys, almost three years in a row. The guys enjoy that drill, too. It’s a two point scrimmage and try to play up to 10, it’s usually always tight. Today was a little lopsided, the score, but the trial and the excitement of playing against your heroes in either case is fun.

And the game, those guys are all sweating when they’re done, they’re playing for 15 minutes. They didn’t get to warm up like we did today, but we had a little bit of an advantage, but I think everybody at the end of the day enjoyed themselves.

Q. Talk about how getting to play in these outdoor games over and over for your team sort of feels like a reward for the success you’ve had over these years. Do you see that at all? Have you been able to put it in perspective these opportunities to go over and over again?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: We’re definitely fortunate as an organization and a team to get a chance to play in more than one outdoor game. The setting, the opportunity, the thrill, just being in that fresh air environment is second to none.
Last year in the snow, I don’t know how many inches we got during the game. That was like one you’ll never forget. The first one, Wrigley, was a special one as well. And it’s a beautiful venue here. Everybody’s looking forward to it tomorrow. So it’s a privilege, an honor, take advantage of it. Because it’s very special.

Q. Do you have an update on Rozsival?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: He’s fine. He’s playing.

Q. The fact that both teams are playing pretty well, does that give tomorrow’s game a little added juice, do you think?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: Yeah, I think that when we saw them earlier both teams were probably okay at that stage, but I think in the last month or so both teams have won a lot of key games and it seems like their games are as good as they have been at any point all year long.

It’s a dangerous game. We know that. When you play against Trotzy’s team, they play hard, they check, they don’t give up much, they play the right way. And that’s the way their team’s progressing.

Ourselves, we like to push it a little bit and try to score.

So it will be a good contest and I’m sure everybody’s excited about it.

Q. What’s the challenge, being through this a couple times, the hoopla and everything that surrounds this event to knowing that, when the game starts, its two big points for either team?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: Yeah, that’s the best part about it. You’re playing for keeps. I know the setting, it might get you a little bit off focus or your mind might be wandering about, wow, is this cool or what, knowing that, hey, you got to play the right way, got to do the right things to put yourself in a position to win the game.

But we have had some guys that played on a lot of big stages and a lot of big settings and this is one of them.

So I think their focus and their preparation shouldn’t be unusual. I think these guys can basically get everybody’s attention quickly by how they play or what they say and make sure the guys who haven’t been exposed to this opportunity quickly are comfortable with what they have to do. Not only that, but playing the right way.

Q. Barry Trotz said he gave you a call before putting the stickers on their helmets for tomorrow’s game. Just wondering what your emotions were or what did you think when he did that?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: No, that’s a great thought. We certainly appreciate the consideration and thinking of Clint [Reif] in a real tough time. The trainers throughout the league and the support that’s been shown to the organization and to the family has been outstanding. So it’s one more show or one more way of expressing what he meant and the type of guy he really is.

Q. Crawford said he felt he struggled his first few games after the injury and he started to find a rhythm a little bit that last one. Are you seeing some progressions or some improvements?

JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think so. I think early in the games maybe you could say that he’s not the way he began the season, but I think the deeper he gets in the game, he seems to do fine. The last 30 minutes or 20 minutes of the last two games are all big games and a lot of goals were going in and he shut the door and turned the games that looked like we weren’t going to get anything out of them and two big wins. I think at the end of the day goaltenders should be measured by winning the game and doing what you can in that game, but I think his progression is definitely on the right track.