Andrew Cogliano signed a one-year deal yesterday and after speaking with him he sounds confident and ready to take his game to the next level this season. Cogliano was very forthcoming in his thoughts on trade rumours, faceoffs and seemed extremely excited to have Tom Renney as his coach.
GREGOR: Does it bother you that it took until September 10th to get a deal done?
COGLIANO: People probably read into it a little too much. The only thing for me is it gets trying talking to your agent everyday and figuring what is going on and the process like that. As long as you’re signed before training camp everything is good.
GREGOR: Have you had a chance to talk with Tom Renney? I ran into him in the hallway yesterday and he told me he wanted to give you a fair shake. Do you think you didn’t get a fair shake last year?
COGLIANO: Ahhh...Yeah I think at times. I think the last part of the season I was given the opportunity to play, and I think I showed well. I think I showed what I was capable of. Last year was a combination of a couple of things, and I take full responsibility. I take a lot of the responsibility on myself, because at the end of the day I’m on the ice playing. I believe certain factors are in play too, you know the opportunity, your special teams’ minutes and things like that. I think all that comes into play, and that led to the season I had.
GREGOR: Are you more comfortable down the middle? If Tom Renney gave you some truth serum what would your answer be? Is centre where you want to play or are you okay with the wing?
COGLIANO: I’ve had this conversation with Tom, and I’ve thought about this in my own mind too. I believe at centre I’m more efficient than on the wing. Can I play the wing; do I have a problem playing the wing? No I don’t. But I believe the reason I was moved to the wing was because of a couple things. My faceoffs weren’t where they needed to be, and I think this summer I took the valuable steps to making sure I got better on faceoffs. I’m much stronger, and I’ve improved my techniques to make sure I could handle myself in the faceoff dot, because that is a big reason why I’ve lost icetime over the past couple years.
And I believe in the defensive zone I needed to improve. Now as I’m a litte older, this is my fourth year, I’ve come to realize that being hard at both ends of the rink is very valuable; not only to yourself as a player, but to the team. I believe that the last couple of years a guy like Shawn Horcoff has been taking on that role, too much on his own, as a centreman. You watch him and he plays hard at both ends and is very responsible, and in my own mind that is how I want to be playing. I want to be playing hard at both ends, focus on defence, but when I have a chance in the offensive zone and a chance on the rush to go make plays I will. I’ve had this conversation with Tom a couple times over the summer and he feels the same way.
GREGOR: You mentioned the technique factor in the faceoff circle. What did you work on specifically to improve the technical aspect of your faceoffs?
COGLIANO: This summer was actually the first summer where I skated the whole summer. I’ve never really skated the entire summer before. I usually started in late July or August, but this summer I was on the ice two times a week in May and June just to work on little things. I worked on faceoffs and little parts of my game that needed work. I think that was a big step that I’ve never done before and it really helped my confidence. In terms of faceoffs, not only did I work on strength and physical things, but mentally I studied. I don’t want to say who I watched, but I got Miles, our video guy, to give me video on some of the top faceoff guys in the league. I watched over and over again what they did and what their techniques were. I tried to use them. When I went out on the ice this summer I changed my technigue.
I feel last year ,and even the last couple years, as I watched myself in video I realized I didn’t have a technique. There were times I would go into faceoffs maybe unfocused or not as hard as I should be. How I think about it now, and think about these guys and how good they are, and how competitive they are in the faceoff dot and how serious it is, it’s definitely woken me up to that part of the game. I believe that by doing this it has made me much more confident in myself going into a faceoff now. The year hasn’t started and I haven't proven anything yet, but I believe I’m much better off going into a year specifically in that part of the game than I ever have been before.
GREGOR: You mentioned that centre would be your first choice, and when you look at Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle coming in, does it give you a sense of excitement that you might play with one of these guys?
COGLIANO: For sure. Gags and I had the chance to take them out for dinner the other night and get to know them a little bit. They seem like great guys. They seem like young, confident guys who love hockey, want to be here and are excited to play and that’s all you can ask for. As I look at the lineup I don’t know how things are going to shake out, I don’t even know if Tom does, but there is definitely going to be a situation where three lines are going to compete (for icetime), have good chemistry with one another, who are skilled and play hard. Even though we will be young, we will have three lines that can all score goals, for the most part, and a very good fourth line with the addition of Fraser and Storts is still there and he brings a lot.
GREGOR: Many of the old guys are gone now. There are not many guys in their 30s, so you will be looked upon to be a bit more of a leader, rather than a quiet sponge who listened to the leaders in your first few years. How do you mentally prepare yourself for that role?
COGLIANO: That is definitely something that has come into my mind, and Gags’s mind and even Tom Gilbert's. Now we have to take the next step. For the past three years we have always been the younger guys behind the older guys that are working their way up, but as you know most guys are gone except Horc and Strudy and a couple other guys, but now we are a big part of the team and that leadership group. We have to take the next step in trying to bring the younger guys along, but we also have to make sure we are still developing, getting better and making sure we are adding a lot more to the table too.
GREGOR: In your conversation with Tom, have you discussed the powerplay and special teams and you possibly getting an opportunity on one of those teams? Do you think it realistic?
COGLIANO: Yeah I believe so. I’ve talked to Tom, not in a way of demanding icetime, or saying I should be playing here or there, but what I have talked to Tom about is the opportunity. I believe the opportunity comes in certain situations whether it is PP or PK, just the opportunity to be on special teams. In his mind he believes that not only myself, but the other guys will be given all the opportunity in the world to do what they want, do what they can, to play in certain situations. He believes that as the opportunity is given it is up to the players to then take that next step and run with it. There are a lot of powerplay players on our team, that is not a mystery, and I understand that. But I believe that there will be a situation where opportunity arises if the PP isn’t clicking and guys will need to fill in with each other.
As I look at it, we have nine forwards, and I know the young guys haven’t technically made the team yet, who can play on the powerplay. We have nine skilled guys who could be out there, so it will come down to opportunity and who mixes in and who doesn’t. With my conversations with Tom it has all been about opportunity, and if you the chance and you do well with it then he will continue to give you a chance to do it.
GREGOR: You mentioned you went out for dinner with the kids, have you had the chance to skate with them? If so, what are your thoughts on Paajarvi, who is likely the biggest wild card, since you’ve probably seen Hall and Eberle on TV?
COGLIANO: He is great. Just by the couple icetimes I’ve skated with him, he is very fast. I skated with him on a couple two-on-ones and he can really fly. He has very good hands, he can pass and as young as he is he looks very mature. I heard one of Horc’s interviews where he said usually the guys who can skate and keep up to the speed of the game are successful their first year. He is the only guy I’ve skated with so far, but I noticed he is funny and very excited to be here.
GREGOR: Is he Andrew Cogliano fast?
COGLIANO: (laughs)I think so.
GREGOR: Could he give you a run for your money?
COGLIANO: For sure. I haven’t seen Hall yet; apparently he is as quick as they come too. It’s very exciting, I’m excited for them to be here and I’m pretty pumped to get out there and play with them.
GREGOR: You’ve heard your name in trade rumours for more than a year, so have you been able to deal with it better over time. Was it something you discussed with Tom, to know that you were wanted here, or do you not worry about it anymore?
COGLIANO: That was a definitely a reason why I contacted Tom in the summer. Because as I feel that I’m excited to be here, you want to feel that you are wanted. As a coaching staff he made it known that he is very confident in me, he thinks I’m a great player, and I can be very good and he wants me to develop. When I had conversations with Tom he came across as a very confident man, but you could tell he had a plan and his plan is to develop players. He wants to bring players like myself, who’ve been in the league, to the next step and to bring the younger guys into the league and be successful.That is one thing.
Not only physically have I gotten better this summer to ensure I’ll be ready, but mentally it has been a great summer for me. I’ve taken steps in mentally coming to different areas than I have been before. Just mentally staying away from rumours, and things like that because I can’t control that. I’m simply trying to control what is in my grasp, and those things aren’t. The conversations with Tom were fantastic and he has got me excited to play, readyto play and has me knowing that I will have opportunities to play this year. The other stuff I’ve put aside and I’m just focused on playing.
Cogliano seems more mature and it is obvious he is in a great mental state right now. Not all of the top nine forwards will have great years, but if Cogliano can show his faceoffs have improved and he is ready to be an all-around player he might be the big surprise this season. You can tell that he is a fan of his new head coach, and if a player likes and trusts his coach he is more likely to play better.
LIVE IN PENTICTON
I'll be in Penticton from Sunday to Thurday with reports for the NATION, on Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi and all the other Oiler rookies. Tyler Pitlick is the guy I'm most looking forward to seeing. If you want an update on a certain player just let me know.