Ed Snider met with the media today in Voorhees for the first time since the end of the lockout. No, he didn't want to talk about the 113-day-long lockout that he and the 28 other NHL owners were responsible for, but you'll see that reporters eventually got him to budge a little bit on that.
Snider also talked about the current state of the team, what issues he sees with them heading into the season, how the shortened year will have an impact on the club and what he expects out of llya Bryzgalov, among other things.
Here's a full transcript of Uncle Ed's talk with the media, courtesy of the wonderful interns in the Flyers' PR department. (Stop using those double spaces in between sentences though, guys. It's wrong and a pain in the ass to fix.)
Q: What brings you out today?
A: I just thought it was a nice day for a stroll in New Jersey. No, I'm thrilled to be back, it's exciting. I'm looking forward to the next 48 games and hopefully the playoffs. The fact that I told the league to get it done by my birthday made me feel real good. [pretty sure he was kidding there]
Q: What do you remember from the last short season?
A: I remember that it was a short season but we did very well. I remember Eric Lindros winning the Hart Trophy and overall it was a pretty good year.
Q: Is this going to be an advantage to you that so many of your players here played during this lockout?
A: I haven't taken into account the rest of the league. I don't know that more of ours played than others. I don't know that it really matters quite frankly. I mean it depends on who played, who didn't play, the quality of those players. So I'm not counting numbers, I just know that probably, hopefully we have a little bit of an advantage because our organization is intact. It's basically the same team, all the same coaches, so there is a familiarity there that will certainly help us get out of the gate. Teams that have new coaches or whatever might have a little more of a problem, you never know.
Q: Ed, it's been 38 years since you last won a Cup. Do you think that this team has the capabilities to end that long drought?
A: I go in every year thinking that. Hoping that and thinking that because we work hard to put a team together. Our goal is to win the Cup so this is no different than any other year for me.
Q: Chris Pronger was here yesterday. Have you happened to have any conversations with him? How's he doing?
A: He's here today. I was just talking to him a few minutes ago. He looks great. You know he's certainly not ready to play hockey and he may never be but he's part of our organization and we're thrilled to see him doing as well as he is.
Q: Are you going to use him in a scouting role perhaps?
A: Paul Holmgren's going to use him in a lot of different roles.
Q: What was your opinion for how Gary Bettman handled the lockout behind the negotiations?
A: I'm just thrilled that we're here playing hockey. I don't really want to talk about any of that.
Q: There were some 4,000 fans here on day one. I'm not sure if you were here for that but you heard the news that many turned out. Were you ever concerned that you wouldn't get as many as a turn out like that on day one?
A: It would be wrong for me to say that we're not concerned but we have phenomenal fans. Our season ticket holders we had minimal cancellations, very very few. They stuck with us and we really appreciate it and it was really gratifying to see that tremendous crowd show up for the first practice.
Q: You have been around all of the captaincies, when you name one this week, it will be your eighth in the last 12 years and that's a lot for a hockey team. Can you talk about what you want to see in the next captain in terms of longevity and what people should see?
A: You always want to have a captain that is around for awhile and has longevity. That's up to the coach and Paul Holmgren. We talk about it and I think we'll be in pretty good shape that way.
Q: Do you think Claude Giroux is going to make a good captain? Is there anyone else you would consider?
A: Is he going to be captain? You appointing him? It's not for me to say at this point.
Q: You spent a lot of money on Ilya Bryzgalov last year. I was wondering your opinion on how he played last year and what you expect from him this year?
A: I think we are in good shape in goal. I have a lot of faith in Bryzgalov and I think he'll do a real good job for us. I'm not concerned. I think a lot of his problems have had to do with the different style we played as opposed to Phoenix (Coyotes). I really believe that we'll tighten up a little bit to help him out and I think he's a damn good goalie.
Q: Fans are sending us messages on Twitter. Single game tickets are on sale today and prices have gone up dramatically. Do you know if that's true and do you have things that you will be doing for the fans?
A: I don't think that's true at all. I don't think prices have gone up dramatically in any way, shape, or form. We are always doing things for the fans and we will be continuing to do things for the fans.
Q: You were willing to commit up to $110 million for Shea Weber. Were you disappointed in that?
A: You know I really want to discuss this team and what didn't happen is irrelevant.
Q: When you look at this team, what do you think the strengths are, what do you think the weaknesses are?
A: I think that we've got a pretty good team all around. I think that our defense is going to be different than it has been in the past, but it's going to be bigger and stronger and I think harder for players to play against. I love our forwards and our offense. I think we're in great shape. I think Bryz will be a good player this year in goal and I think we've got good back up for him, so I feel very good about this team.
Q: Any area of concern?
Q: When you say tighten up, with respect to Bryz, what do you mean?
A: It's not respect to Bryz its respect to the way teams are playing now. If you watch the playoffs and saw how teams played and how we couldn't adjust to New Jersey when they were bringing all their men back and then we had like three forwards on five players, it's hard to score. So we have to adjust accordingly to make sure that we're up to date with what's going around in the league.
Q: Can you tell me about the general reaction around the league, not just here, about fans showing up to practices?
A: I heard that Buffalo, of course the Canadian clubs and you know, Detroit. We've got great fans all throughout the league. Hockey fans are great. Lot of times the press talks about the fact that there is a loyal small group, but it's not a small group, it's a gigantic group of fans. We're very proud of that and we think the fans are phenomenal and we want to cater to them at all times.
Q: Why do you think they keep coming even with the labor issues?
A: Because they like the sport.
Q: Have you always been a fan of 82 games or do you think whether is 60-some-- have you always been a fan of 82?
A: They play 82 games in basketball, we play 82, they play one hundred-some in baseball. I mean, I don't think it's an issue.
Q: A lot of people say that the fans love the sport obviously, and they're loyal fans, but a lot of people said that was part of the reason why the owners and Gary Bettman thought it was okay to continue negotiating during that long lockout. Do you see any truth to that?
A: It takes two to tango. You can't negotiate with yourself. You have to come to a deal with the other side. Why would you blame it on Gary Bettman? I mean, why isn't it a mutual thin, where two people can't get together, two organizations can't get together?
Q: Then why was the lockout decided by that one side?
A: The lockout was decided by that one side because the Collective Bargaining Agreement came to an end and there was no new agreement.
Q: So you don't think that plays into it, either side, the way they know hockey fans-- did that play into it at all?
A: No, of course not. We all wanted to get back. We would've all loved to play the first game of the season and get this thing done and over with and it's painful for everyone. We're not sitting back saying, "Hey, the fans are going to come no matter what." That's not the issue. The issue is we all wanted to play hockey. I was sick that this thing took so long.
Q: Just to follow up on that, the deal is for ten years with eight-year opt out. Do you feel like the league is in position where we've seen the last of this kind of thing?
A: I can't predict anything like that. I know we've seen the last of it for the next 8 years. That's all I know.
Q: Can you talk about St. Bart's?
A: It was fabulous. But I couldn't wait to get back. Everything just fit at the right time in that way because it was planned for a long time by my kids to get me this birthday trip and I enjoyed it tremendously.