A day after their first loss in six games, Pat Quinn re-enforced that this team needs to be better. He let his players know it half way through practice when he called them together and with a few profanities explained that excuses weren’t going to be tolerated and they needed to be play smarter, work harder and be dedicated.
Quinn’s no BS attitude is exactly what this team needs, and every player I spoke with after practice felt that Quinn wasn’t out of line.
"We need that emotion from leadership. When Pat talks, we listen. What we did over the road trip was raise our standards and hold a little more accountability in the room. The message has been sent throughout the dressing room from the coach and I think it’s great," said Steve Staios.
Today, Quinn wasn’t shy when asked about the play of specific players.
Is Patrick O’Sullivan in the doghouse?
"Yes and No. He and Horcoff and Souray and Staios have had a lot of minuses lately. Minus is a factor you look at at the end of year — on a day-to-day basis they can be misleading — but lately their defensive hockey has been tested. I guess expectations for Pat are a bit higher than what his play has been of late so I guess you can say that."
Prior to Quinn’s press conference, Patrick O’Sullivan mentioned that he thinks the feedback from coach to player isn’t great right now. When Quinn was asked about this he didn’t shy away.
"When feedback is talked about, as is the same as all communications, it involves two people. If the receiver is not a receiver of information, how is that communication at all? That is actually nothing, and that’s what he sees. If being spoken to on the bench means you aren’t getting feedback, then either you aren’t listening or you don’t give a crap, and I don’t know which it is.
"If he feels that way then we will try and correct it. We have four people that are trying to make communication with these guys every day. It might not mean sitting down in the office and berating them, because that’s not always my style, but it is in the correctional stand point to say need to do this better or that better. And it’s not always the individual either. Sometimes you talk to a room and the message is meant for all people and it only reaches a few."
With O’Sullivan being paired up with Zack Stortini and JFJacques last night, the perception is that he is now on the fourth line. To his credit O’Sullivan wasn’t happy with his play.
"I don’t feel like I’m just a fourth liner. I can produce more and I need to," said O’Sullivan.
But when Quinn was asked about players who look at where they fit on the roster he got fired up again. Sam Gagner has played there this year, same with Robert Nilsson and even Mike Comrie for a short time, and surprisingly they all produced.
"When you start to think you are a fourth liner or I’m being treated like a fourth liner, but I’m really a first line… What has been there to suggest they are a first liner? Did someone tell them that? Is six goals a first liner? Sure I guess if another guy only has two goals. I don’t know what makes a first liner, but a guy that is minus thirteen better look at some other parts of his game."
Dan Barnes then asked him what O’Sullivan needs to do to be a better player?
"I really don’t want to get on to individuals, because I’ve already said too much on this. It is nobody else’s business but his and ours and his teammates. But you have to compete in this game."
Quinn has an uncanny ability to rip his players but massage them at the same time. He won’t back down from ensuring his players understand that they can be better and that they need to be more consistent. I think that sort of accountability has been lacking in the past, from both the players and coaches and Quinn is determined to change that.
Some days it pays off to show up a bit late for practice. I walked into Rexall around 10:30, practice started at 10:00, but I was lucky to run into Mike Comrie walking out. Comrie skated for the first time today, beside Fernando Pisani.
Comrie is finally starting to feel better. His energy level has been quite low and he is shooting for a return after Christmas. Depending on where his conditioning is, he thinks if he can get in three of four solid practices he should be ready to go for the Dec. 28 game v. the Flames.
It will take a few weeks to see how Khabibulin’s back reacted to yesterday’s procedure, where they tried to loosen up the muscles in his back and around his spine.
Lubomir Visnovsky didn’t skate today because he was under the weather. Shawn Horcoff is still battling a shoulder problem and had the day off, while Sheldon Souray was also a bit ill. Quinn expects all three to be ready tomorrow when the Predators invade Rexall Place.