Transcript of the Press Conference Announcing the General Manager, Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the 2008-09 Norfolk Admirals
Transcript of the Press Conference Announcing the General Manager, Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the 2008-09 Norfolk Admirals
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott Hotel
Participants: Norfolk Admirals President Ken Young
Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President of Hockey Operations Brian Lawton
Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Barry Melrose
Norfolk Admirals General Manager Mike Butters
Norfolk Admirals Head Coach Darren Rumble
Norfolk Admirals Assistant Coach Alan May
Ken Young: Good afternoon. It pleases me, first of all, to see all of you, some of our best fans. We welcome the media and staff as we are gearing up for hockey season. I was beginning to say we’re seeing familiar faces here at Scope, but we’re close enough. Again, welcome. But I especially want to welcome the people from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Norfolk Admirals. I think it shows the spirit of partnership that Brian Lawton is here with us, Barry Melrose is here with us, Mike Butters is here with us, Darren Rumble is here with us and Alan May is here with us. You’re going to hear from all of them.
We’re excited – very excited. You’ve probably read about many of the changes that already in a very short couple of weeks the Lightning have made to bolster not only Tampa Bay, but also to bolster the Admirals here. So with that excitement, I’m going to turn it over to Brian. From here on out, it’s full speed ahead to a winning season!
Brian Lawton: Welcome. I just want to say that it’s a great honor for us to be here today, Barry and myself both. Obviously when we heard about this, we wanted to be down here for sure. In our plans this year, you’ve seen a lot of changes for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A very big part of some of those changes is upgrading everything that we will be doing down here. We’re thrilled to have this partnership with Ken and the Admirals.
We are really looking forward to doing a much better job than what was in our opinion done last year. We are committed with resources, time and energy. We have been very aggressive and very active this summer in signing players that we feel not only very good about their on-ice abilities, but we feel really good about them off the ice, too. They are character people. A lot of them are going to compete for jobs in Tampa Bay. We’ll see what happens.
We feel better today about the depth than we did just three weeks ago. That’s what’s really exciting for us. Our master plan is to develop our prospects. We will start to get more prospects down here – that is part of the plan. In order for us to do that properly, we need to upgrade everything that has gone on down here in perspective of the clubs buying players. Ken has obviously done a fabulous job and we are happy to be associated with him and the Admirals.
Without getting into too much more than that, I want to introduce the next gentleman, Mike Butters, who will be our general manager down here. That is very important for us, because we felt it was critical to have somebody from the organization on the ground overseeing the day-to-day operations. Mike is a lifelong hockey man. He’s got experience not only as a player, but as a manager and as an owner. We are absolutely thrilled to announce his involvement down here as the general manager. Without any further adieu, I give you Mike Butters.
Mike Butters: Thanks Brian. Thanks Ken. I just want to start out by saying that when I first talked to [Lightning owners] Oren [Koules] and Len [Barrie] about this opportunity, the first thing I thought of right away was, “the Admirals hate me!” Roughly fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity to play in this building against some really good players. Pat Cavanagh is here today and he’s one of those guys. There is a rich hockey history in the Hampton Roads area. There have been a lot of great players throughout the history of this very strong and proud franchise. I viewed this as a great opportunity to come in and hopefully make our mark from the Tampa Bay standpoint.
I think you saw last season in Tampa Bay there was a lot of transition with new ownership, new management, new and fresh ideas. I think you’re seeing the representatives of those fresh ideas from not only the Lightning but also from the Admirals today. Brian Lawton said something to me today that was actually quite profound. He said, “Just because things have been done a certain way for twenty years doesn’t mean they are right.” Some of the ideas we are bringing into this organization are fresh and new. I think they are going to pay off.
A good NHL team and a winning NHL team starts right from the development of the minor league players. This being the primary affiliate to the Lightning, it is very important that we develop those players. We have a couple of great individuals who you are going to meet later today who are going to do an outstanding job with that with everything from off-ice training to on-ice practice and getting our guys prepared.
In addition, Oren Koules and Len Barrie – the owners of the Lightning – have been very hands-on about their approach to the NHL team and also to the American League team. They have given us a great head start on things. The free agent market was very intense with a lot of signings going on. They were very active in that process and allowed us to be very active with financial backing and commitment from them to bolster our American League roster.
It’s going to be an exciting season. We’ve got fresh faces. I will take the opportunity to meet a lot of you, listen to your thoughts and feelings. I can’t wait to get in here and spend most of my time here, obviously, and get things going. I want to thank you for your time and we’re looking forward to an exciting season.
Ken Young: We’re fortunate enough to have probably the most recognizable NHL head coach in the country here today. It really is a pleasure to introduce Barry Melrose, who is heading up the Lightning on the ice. I know he’s looking forward to a great season with some of the changes they’ve already made. With that, Barry – it’s great to welcome you to Norfolk.
Barry Melrose: I guess "recognizable" sure beats "infamous!" Hopefully it will continue that way.
Mike Butters played for me a long time ago when I was coaching in the American League. I am a product of the American League: I played in the American League, I coached in the American League. It gave me the chance to coach in the NHL. It was for Detroit, and I see Kirk Maltby at the press conference today [referring to a fan in a Kirk Maltby Detroit Red Wings jersey]. The American League is a very important part of what we are trying to do in Tampa Bay, and Brian believes in the same thing. With the injuries in today’s game, the way players get hurt and trades happen, and with salary cap issues, you’ve got to have depth in your organization. That’s one thing we’re really trying to do here with Tampa Bay and with Norfolk. Is it "Nohr-fihck" or "Nohr-fohlk?" I can’t say Worcester, either, so it doesn’t really matter! We really want to get some depth, and there are some players that will be in Norfolk who are going to be really close to making our team in Tampa. There will probably be three or four players on both teams that could go either way.
We know things weren’t great here last season. We’re really trying to change that and put a better team in here. Mike Butters is one of the best hockey men I’ve ever met and one of the best guys I’ve ever met. He’ll make this community better by him being here. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’ll be good for T.V., better for radio. The people around the hockey team will really fall in love with Mike. He’s going to give you his heart and soul.
Coaching is a very important part of any organization. We expect the coaches here in Norfolk to have the players ready so that when we have injuries, when we need players, when we need a certain type of player, he’ll be ready to come up to Tampa and not just be a fill-in, but be a guy that will add something to our team.
Darren Rumble was in a very tough situation last year. He basically coached this team the last part of the season under trying circumstances. The team responded to him very well and played very hard for him. That’s tough to do – to take a team that is losing and get them to compete every night. That’s the sign of a good coach.
The one overriding factor we’re trying to do in Tampa is that good people will be in our organization. That means players – you look at the people we’ve signed and they’re all good guys who play hard every night. They are good citizens and are people that you are proud to have in your organization. The people that Brian, Oren and Lennie have hired are those type of guys and Darren Rumble is the same kind of person. I’ve known Darren for a long time. I coached against him when he was a younger player. Now hopefully when I need something in Tampa, Darren will be able to reach out and give me what I need with a call-up here from Norfolk. I think you’ve got a great young coach here. I think you’ve got a guy who’s going to do a great job in Norfolk and who will be developing players and putting a good team on the ice. I’d like to introduce all of you to Darren Rumble, the new coach of Norfolk.
Darren Rumble: Thank you Barry for those kind words. First of all, I’d like to thank Barry and Brian for taking time out of their busy schedule. I’m just thrilled that you guys would make the trip down to Norfolk and show your support for us down here. I’m thrilled to have you. Thank you.
Buttsy and Al [Alan May], I’ve had the chance to get to know these two gentlemen here to my left for the last few days and I’m thrilled to work with this group. We all share the same philosophy as to how the game is played with passion and physicality. I’m thrilled and excited and wish we could start tomorrow.
Barry Melrose: It’s tough to make ice right now!
Darren Rumble: Yeah, I know. So we’ll get a chance to go over some stuff with the Tampa Bay coaching staff as well as our staff next week at our prospect’s camp out in Victoria [British Columbia].
Ken Young, I just wanted to re-assure you. I’m sure that you’re a little nervous having a first-year head coach in here. Me, Buttsy and Al are going to dive head-first into this and pour everything we have into reviving this franchise back to where it belongs, and that’s at the top of the standings and fighting for championships. I know that my job is to develop, but we’re going trophy hunting this year. That’s what we want to accomplish.
Season ticket holders, thank you for coming out and showing your support. You guys are the greatest fans in the league. It’s a good day to be a season ticket holder because management has given us an exciting team. We are going to be exciting to watch. We’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle in place: we’ve got a great offense, we’ve got some good young defensemen and whoever we get at the goaltender position is going to put us in a position to win every night. Sometimes your goaltender can steal you four or five games a year and we’re certainly going to get a capable goaltender down here, so that’s exciting.
My family is here. I would like to thank them for sticking with me through the 20 or so moves we’ve had over the years. I’ve gotten great support from them.
As far as Al and I go, we want to make ourselves more available to the season ticket holders. I don’t think it will be every game, but maybe once a week on a Friday we’d love to get together with you guys, say fifteen minutes before warm-ups, and have a little “coach’s corner” or a little “chalk talk.” I think that would be good interaction between us and you guys and sort of give us a feel for what our game plan is for that particular night and to get some feedback from you guys.
Once again, I’m thrilled. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity. I’m going to do my best. We have a great staff in place from top to bottom. Again, the “depth” word is something we haven’t been able to say with the Tampa Bay organization. We now have depth, which is good because it is going to create a lot of positive competition for jobs, which forces everybody to do better. So I’m excited and I look forward to speaking to all of you individually after the press conference.
Without further adieu, I’d like to introduce my assistant Alan May. He’s a big guy. I wouldn’t want to mess with him in a dark alley, so make sure you stay on his good side. He’s going to get Buttsy and I in shape. We’re excited to get working with him.
Alan May: Thanks Rums. I’d like to thank Brian and Mike for hiring me. There is nothing in the world I would rather do than coach hockey. I’m happy to be back in the game. I’m looking very forward to this season with this franchise. I think Tampa Bay has done an incredible job rebuilding the organization and setting a path ahead.
As far as being here in Norfolk, I’m also a product of the American Hockey League. I believe in developing players to get to the next level and them giving everything that they’ve got. I’m going to give everything that I’ve got as far as bringing experience and bringing the experience from Barry, Brian and the rest of the coaching staff up top, plus Darren and myself and passing that along to the players and getting them ready to have great, solid National Hockey League careers. I thank you for being here.
Ken Young: You’ll be able to meet everybody up here. There will be a one-on-one question period for the media. We’re first going to do a quick photo shoot. After that for the media, all these gentlemen will be available.
Let me just reiterate one more time: you’ve been able to hear the enthusiasm from everybody. I think we’re really on our way. I look forward to a great season coming up. I appreciate all of you visiting from Tampa, obviously my home town so that’s kind of nice, too. The new coaching staff and Mike Butters, welcome everybody here. I look forward to some fine times ahead. Thank you very much.
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