Following this morning's decision to send Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, and Nick Cousins to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Ron Hextall met with the media and answered a few questions about it. You can see the video of that, courtesy of the team, above this paragraph. We've also transcribed the full text of Hextall's answers below.
MEDIA: Talk about the specifics for Ghost going back. What areas do you really feel he needs to work on?
HEXTALL: Well first of all, I think Ghost, he had a little bit of a tough start to camp, and he really [came] on. So we're excited where he's at. He does a really, really good job when he's got the puck. I think, defensively, there's some things he's got to tighten up. But this is a kid who didn't play all last year, so he's shown some great signs and we're thrilled with where he's at.
Is half the battle having a player very aware specifically of what he needs to work on? Because Ghost seems very aware of what he needs to do.
He knows. He knows exactly [what he needs to work on]. I met with him this morning, and it's almost like, 'yeah, I know'. So he's very in-tune with his game, he's a smart kid, he knows what he does really well, and he knows the things that he needs to work at, and he's very dedicated to the sport. So we look for big things from him.
Fair to say maybe that the year lost, essentially, the on-ice experience that was lost last year, is a factor?
It's hard to say. I mean, it's hard to argue that it's not. Experience is a big thing, and knowing the game and the coach's expectations and, uh ... playing around big bodies and at a high pace, like, the one thing Ghost has gotta do, he's gotta close quicker on people, and he's got great feet. So he can do that. It's just a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition, and getting better at it. And again, we're very excited about him, and quite honestly, if you had told me he'd come into camp and do as well as he's done, I'd have been thrilled.
How tough of a decision is it going to be, whether to carry eight or seven d-men?
I don't know. That's part of the equation here, is we've got eight guys to kinda sort through, not only who's going to play opening night, but also partners. So there's some work to do, and there's only so many games. So that was part of the decision with both of these guys [Gostisbehere and Hagg], is that they're probably not going to get a game, so it's time to get down as low as we can.
Is it almost tougher to look at the other side, look at the forwards, and say 'how does that fit'?
[laughs] It's tough on both sides. Tough decisions are good things. We like our depth on the back end and the front end. I think it's probably a statement of where we're at. We've got some depth now, we're building more and more. I think when, y'know, with the two defensemen, you start to look, and a lot of years, you have to sign three or four [depth defensemen] thinking that maybe you'll use them, and all of a sudden now we're getting to a point where our young guys are a big part of our depth, so that's a good thing. They're closing in, they're getting closer.