Monday Press Conference: Mike Eaves and captains

Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves addressed the media Monday, along with team captains Rene Bourque, Andy Wozniewski and Dan Boeser

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Mike Eaves: "Before we get started, I'd just like to address, make a statement that in regards to the (Alex) Leavitt situation, just so we don't have to go back over this in the course of this conference, legals asked us to not to address that issue right now. So, we appreciate your understanding and we can move on from there and talk some hockey. Our three captains here are Rene Bourque, Andy Wozniewski and Dan Boeser. And, let's just open it up for questions, most of you I've talked to already because we've been on the ice, we've had our red-white scrimmage, so we'll just open it up for questions."

Obviously, you play Nebraska-Omaha to start out but would it be kind of a kick to play the (Minnesota) Gophers the second night of the season?

Boeser: "Well, it's obviously always going to be fun to play Minnesota, but right now, as a team we're just looking forward to getting on the ice and playing that first game against Omaha and if it happens that we play Minnesota in the second game then that would be great, but we're just looking at Omaha right now."

Coach, can you talk about this being your second year and you know compare to the first time around, what you know now that maybe you didn't know a year ago.

Eaves: "Well I can actually tell you a little story about that and when these young men were on the ice, doing their conditioning skates and their four-man groups and standing up above in the third tier, looking down on the ice, watching them go through their routines and looking back on a year ago. We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves in for as a coaching staff. But now the second year, looking down, we know the players, as Mark (Johnson) was talking about, we know the league. We know the routine a little bit, understanding what these kids go through in terms of their studies was a huge adjustment for us as a coaching staff, getting used to the pressures that they have, so I we jumped into the deep end a little bit, but its almost like we jumped into the ocean. But now we're moving a little closer to shore and we have a better idea of what we're dealing with."

Coach, how do you deal with this team, with the Heatley situation? Obviously, Mark (Heatley) is still a member of this team, Dany is very close and friends with a lot of guys that are still on this team. How do you address that with the team and deal with that as the situation is still going on and you're trying to focus on the season, as well.

Eaves: "Well, we will talk about that today as a team. We were talking before, the ripple effects of this. This is like a big boulder dropping into a calm pool and it's a tragedy. And as Mark (Johnson) addressed, I think one of the things that we all can do is to say prayers for Dany and Cory Schneider's family and hopefully someday Dany will be able to look at this and say, ‘OK what's the lesson? How can I benefit from this? And how can I help other benefit?' And I hope that is something that he eventually will come to, but that's probably a long, long way away. So, when we talk today that will be one of the main messages, ‘What can we learn from Dany? What has he gone through?' Because when you're 22 and you're at the top, you feel like you're invincible and one decision really changed his life. And so, we need to learn from Dany, and that's all of us. Whether it's driving fast or anything like that, we are responsible for what we do, so we have to learn and move on."

Coach, what should the fans expect from the team this season? How quickly do you want to turnaround? How good do you want to be this year?

Eaves: "Well, I think on paper and by the work these young men put in this summer, we're a much improved team. We had a little red-white scrimmage, we had the Faceoff Feast and one of the quotes we used at that feast is Dwight D. Eisenhower said, ‘Victories don't come at bargain prices,' and these young men paid the price this summer. Some of them were here, down almost 16 weeks, working out and running and sweating and grinding. That's the kind of price that has to be paid in order to win and so they've done that. So, we'll be much improved. How improved we'll be, we'll find out together. As Danny (Boeser) said, we need to get on the ice. We need to play some games. We need to go through some tough times and hang in there together and bond and move forward. And as this season begins, it will go through phases and we will find out how improved as we go along."

Rene, you've shown you can score the puck. Do you have any teammates that can do the same thing, who can pick up the slack?

Bourque: "Yeah, I think with the addition of a couple freshmen this year and we had a lot of freshmen in the lineup last year. With a year under their belt now, I think it's a lot of experience for them and it's going to help them a lot. They know what their going to face every night this year in the league. And they worked hard over the summer, too and you could see that their skills developed a lot from the beginning of last year. So I think, in terms of goal-scoring this year, we're going to score more goals and it's going to help us."

For Andy and Rene, is Mike (Eaves) the same who introduced himself to this team a year ago? If not, how has he changed in your mind, in the time that you guys have practiced together, to this point?

Wozniewski: "I think he's the same guy. I think he has all the same aspects of his coaching. I just think the first year I think it was a big adjustment for a lot of people and it was a lot harder. This year, I think one of the main things is the relationships that people have with him right now. Going into last year, we didn't choose captains until Christmas time and no one could go up to him, approach him and say, ‘This is working, this isn't.' I think this year most of the players have developed a relationship that we can do that now."

Rene, your thoughts?

Bourque: "Basically the same thing as Andy. We love our coach and we think that he tries to get us better every day in practice. That's what we want out of him and that's what we expect. But our relationship with him is great. We get along well with everybody on the team and no one is afraid to approach him this year. There's good balance between the coaching and the players this year.

Andy, when you alluded to last year that you didn't go to talk to him, that the players didn't…was it just the unfamiliarity, was it intimidation, was it just not knowing what he would say? Why was that barrier up, so to speak?

Wozniewski: "I just think it was real unfamiliar, just a totally different style of coaching. Just no one really knew what to expect. Everyone just kind of went with the flow and there was no one really that would step up and say anything.

Dan, can you talk about how different this season at the start is for you as opposed to a year ago where you had a nightmarish year coming back from health concerns even before the season started, getting back on the ice and then getting injured again. Were you able to enjoy anything of last year at all and is it just a different mood and feeling for you this time around?

Boeser: "For me personally, last year obviously wasn't the best year. I had a lot of health problems, like you alluded to. This year I just sense for myself a new beginning and for this team we just have a real positive attitude this year. Like these two guys said, the relationship with the coaches has grown a lot over the summer. I'm looking for a fresh start and so is the team and we're ready to go.

Guys, you were talking a minute or two ago about adjusting to Coach Eaves' style. Can you touch on what kind of style Coach Eaves has compared to Coach (Jeff) Sauer?

Wozniewski: "I think the intensity and the work ethic are the main two and our condition level. I think now that we play to our strength instead of just on raw skill. We're really highly conditioned now and that gives us a chance to win every night.


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