Wrapping it, really: Tuesday notes/quotes

Finally got the wrap-day notes transcribed, and they follow a little further down the post. Didn’t exactly go for everyone this time around. The usual disclaimer that “questions” or lead-ins here aren’t verbatim what I asked, but the gist of it.

As we’d thought Saturday night, Devon Toews’ last credited assist wasn’t really his. The league changed it to Kyle Burroughs’, which leaves Toews at 40 assists, tied with Ray Giroux for the team defense record. Still tops among AHL rookies.

The playoffs start Thursday in Albany and Charlotte. No promises about daily updates, but we’ll be paying attention from afar. (A reminder that blog posts are tweeted here and Facebooked here in almost real time.)

As noted earlier, the NCAA playoffs are coming back to Bridgeport next year. Doug Bonjour talked to Charlie Dowd about it and about not getting women’s basketball again.

From overseas, unofficial official Bridgeport alumni team Frolunda appears to be losing a couple of alums: The Indians say Johan Sundstrom and Robin Figren depart.

David Leggio’s Munich team beat Tyler Haskins and Wolfsburg in the DEL final.


Mentioned it in the wrap story, but to toss it here, too: Jason Chaimovitch notes that Bridgeport’s 14-year playoff-series drought ties a league record. The Springfield Indians won the Calder Cup in 1975 and in 1990, and in between the franchise didn’t win a playoff series. (Looking them up, the Indians missed the playoffs 10 times in that span and lost four playoff series, swept twice, losing 4-3 and 3-1. It won those three games in 1981 and didn’t win another playoff game until 1990. So the Sound Tigers at least have that going for them.)

OK, so with a link back to the contract status post, here’s the notebook dump. Thanks for hanging around here all year, following on Twitter, commenting and chiming in and enjoying the ride. We’ll be around.

Steve Bernier

“The game before the all-star game, the first period, I hurt my shoulder. I was able to finish the game, but then the all-star break it didn’t feel good. I had an MRI, and I had a torn labrum and a piece of bone floating in my shoulder. There was nothing I could do. The timeline was 4-6 months.”

“I thought we had a good group of guys here. The coaching staff was fair: They only want you to work hard. The medical staff, they do a good job.”

Ben Holmstrom
“I would say it feels about the same as it did Friday. It’s tough to have 44 wins, 90-something points, and not be playing, but packing up a bag. I still feel bitter. Obviously the last two games isn’t the way you want to go.”

“Some young guys really learned to play the pro game as the season went on. As much as you want to win, you’re developing guys, too. I think this team does a good job of both.”

“I love it here. I’ve enjoyed playing for this team and being a part of it. Not that I’m a young guy out there. My success is judged more on how the team does. Coming up short of the playoffs, I take that a little bit personally, on my shoulders.”

Playing all 76 games again: “It’s something I take a lot of pride in. I love going out on a nightly basis, staying, knock on wood, healthy to play every game for two years. It’s a blessing.”

Ryan Pulock

Tough to spend the year here: “I think so. It’s obviously frustrating. Coming into this year, I wanted to be in the NHL all year. As it turned out, I wasn’t really there at all. I’ve got to stay focused, stay positive, have a good summer and come back to camp ready.”

Still a pretty good year here: “You always want to be in the NHL, but if not, you have to produce. Being an offensive defenseman, I have to contribute offensively. I thought I had a pretty solid year that way.”

“I think I was on my toes. A lot of times, I was ready to shoot. I was using my shot. Quite a few assists came from putting pucks on net and getting rebounds. I tried to jump up in the play.”

Bracken Kearns

“It’s just disappointing. I don’t think it’s really sunk in.”

“We end up one of the top teams in the league, whether we made the playoffs or not. We had a young team. I think there were a lot of questions in how we’d play this year. The young guys did a really good job.”

“It was a pretty good year. It’s hard to say it was a good year if you don’t make the playoffs.”

Kane Lafranchise

“I think I made strides with my game. Obviously it was great to play with Ryan. He made it a lot easier. Defensively, I think I took strides in my game. It was important to be that reliable defenseman.

“The big thing is just finally getting a full year in the American League. That’s what I’ve wanted for a long time.”

Pat Cullity

“With our depth on D early on, I had to play a patient game and wait for my opportunity. Once the opportunity came, I tried to play simple defense, penalty kill, to the best of my ability and help the team.”

Colin Markison (who it turns out finished with a back injury)

Had to be tough, starting out injured, finishing up injured… “Obviously it’s not the way I drew it up, being injured coming out of main camp. I thought I started hot, and then obviously the injury set me back. It’s frustrating. You want to be playing. You can’t always control it.”

“The hip was definitely a big part of it. Missing two and a half months off the start puts you behind the 8-ball. … Playing catch-up is harder than most people realize after an injury at the start of the season. I tried to do my best and be a good teammate. I love the team. The coaching staff’s awesome. I had a lot of fun. Personally it’s just not the way I would’ve drawn up the year.”

Tanner Fritz

So… what happened? “I hurt my knee. I went in for a hit, a normal play, and I just kind of tweaked it. … After everything, it was unfortunate. Battling for a playoff spot, and you can’t help.”

“It was exciting to get my first NHL contract. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunity here. They’ve put me in a position to succeed. I’ve played with a lot of great players the last year and a half.”

Josh Ho-Sang

You’re scratched at Christmastime, and a month later, you turn 21 and everything turns around. What happened in that month? “I just made a lot of changes. … I had to adjust how I was treating myself away from the rink, how I was treating myself at the rink. It was important to get better every game.”

(Play well for four games, struggle for two:) “You want to be that same player every night.”

What kind of changes did you make? “Just a big change was I started watching more video. That was one thing that got overlooked earlier. … Maybe there are just two strides you hadn’t taken, and in your head you thought you did. Sometimes you don’t realize what you’re doing.”

“I think we should be a playoff team. We don’t have the crossover, the wild card. It’s unfortunate. I think if we were in the playoffs, we could’ve won, no doubt in my mind. It’s the reality, the fact that we played in a really good division.”

“Lots of guys stepped up: Carter Verhaeghe, Josh Winquist, all the D played a lot. It was a pleasure playing with Michael Dal Colle. I think he’s an unbelievable hockey player.”

Michael Dal Colle

“For me, it was definitely a step in the right direction in my development. I learned a lot. The group of guys was very welcoming. We had a great team. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t make the playoffs. It’s a huge offseason for me. I’ve got to strive to get bigger and faster and stronger.”

That’s the big thing with this summer? “Building strength, getting bigger. My ultimate goal is to play in the NHL. I want to do that as soon as possible. Just bigger, faster, stronger, work on my skating.”

“There were ups and downs. I think I started off pretty hot, adjusted pretty early to the league, but a little bit, maybe, of a rough patch. It got back on track.”

Devon Toews (who’s graduating from Quinnipiac in May)

“It was a pretty good year. We battled hard almost every game. I don’t think there were many games we felt out of it, maybe two or three times. … We had a chance this weekend to pass Hershey, and we kind of laid an egg.”

We’ve talked about that steady game all year… “Tommer and I were just talking. One of the big things was a consistent game all year. I said to him, there were maybe five games I felt it wasn’t together. That’s got to be consistent next year. I can’t fall off.”

Brent Thompson

Putting the whole year in perspective right now must be tough, but: “My message to the guys is don’t let one or two games define our season. If you look at the big picture, the guys competed extremely hard. Developmentally, I think guys took strides in the right direction.”

“You can take those positives, but at the end of the day, we didn’t make the playoffs. That’s disappointing for all sides.”

“We knew going in the top four teams in the division were the ones to make it. We had the opportunity to seize that. … You look at it, it’s disappointing that the rules aren’t different. It is what it is. We have to be better next year.”

Anything you take particular pride in? “You look at the team, how hard-working they were, that’s probably the biggest thing I hang my hat on. The team competed extremely hard in 74 of the 76 games and practiced extremely hard and definitely got better. I think everybody got better. Not just the prospects. Guys on AHL deals earned NHL deals. ECHL call-ups got better. If you look at the general group, every single player improved their game. Was it enough? At the end of the day, if you look at it, it wasn’t enough.”

“Look at a guy like Joshua Ho-Sang, at the start of the year in and out of the lineup, to becoming a big piece for the New York Islanders. To be honest, it’s a credit to Josh, committing to what we were preaching. He made the commitment. … He accepted what we were saying.”

“A guy like Jones earns an NHL deal, reliable every single day. A guy like Toews was consistent every single day. Are there improvement points? Yeah, but at the end of the day, a great first year. Burroughs solidified himself as a solid AHL defenseman. Kane Lafranchise … now he’s a full-time AHLer, and he could be a depth piece for an NHL team, a two-way defenseman who can skate.”

Flip side, any regrets? “At the end of the day, it’s a results-based job. We have to take a little bit on ourselves that we didn’t make the playoffs. What we can do better as a staff, as a team. That’s our goal, to win a Cup. … Our goal into next season is what it takes to win a Calder Cup here and a Stanley Cup for the Islanders. To answer that question, we’re really looking to put the right pieces in place. That’s what we’re focused on. To me, being satisfied with this year isn’t good enough.”

Michael Fornabaio