JUNE 2, 2015
10:30 A.M. ET
CHRIS MCCLOSKEY: We’ll begin now with some opening comments. We’ll start with our executive producer, Sam Flood.
SAM FLOOD: Thank you for joining us today. We are excited about the Stanley Cup Final, best time of the year. I think this final, as Doc, Eddie and Pierre will talk about coming up, is unique in that these are two of the fastest teams playing the game right now and what these players can do on the ice is remarkable.
We love the fact that it’s Chicago. Obviously the No. 1 hockey market in the country right now, the No. 1 brand in the sport of hockey across the entire country. People love watching the Chicago Blackhawks, as Saturday night shows.
And Tampa which is a growing market, I think it’s wonderful. The country is going to get to see Stamkos and the ‘Triplets’ that Tampa rolls out line after line, because they are such a deep and talented team. To have them playing against Chicago; so we know people are going to come to watch because of Chicago, and they are going to fall in love with this Tampa team that has so much talent and so much skill and it’s a great team to watch.
And to boot, Tampa is a Top 15 market in the television world which is going to be great for ratings. So we are as excited as it can be at the start of it. And I hand it off to the three‑time Emmy‑award winning play‑by‑play talent, the best in the business, Doc Emrick.
DOC EMRICK: Thank you very much. We are really privileged to have these two teams together. Probably it was summed up by one of the radio commentators yesterday: It’s better to steal a good idea than to originate a bad one. He said, “These two teams are likable.” And that’s a good way to say it because if you have gotten to know any of their players and their coaches, that’s how you describe them. It’s going to be a great, fun time for us just to be working with these people on a day‑to‑day basis because they are so good. They are so good to us and they are so likable.
To be around the Stanley Cup and not be able to hold it necessarily but to see it as a distance, 122 years old this year, and they make it look so good when it gets rolled out there. That’s one of the thrilling points for me is to just be quiet and watch it being rolled out and seeing the reaction, especially of those who have never won it before. That’s fun for me.
I think, too, that even though we don’t play favorites, we don’t cheer for one team or the other, the only thing I cheer for is that whoever wins is at home, because the celebration is so much more magnificent when a home team wins it.
I’m thrilled like Sam was about the athletic competition ahead and the quality of the teams. But that gets into an athletic area that I just assume that Eddie and Pierre elaborate on to you rather than myself.
So with that, I’ll pass it right over to Eddie.
EDDIE OLCZYK: Thanks a lot, Doc, it’s great to be here. Very honored and humbled to be part of this team, again.
Stanley Cup final, the greatest trophy, the greatest sport; to have that opportunity to see it get handed out either to Tampa or Chicago.
If either one of those goaltenders are average throughout this series, per game average, we’ve got a chance to see 6‑5 hockey. Both of these teams can light it up. Both these teams play a similar style as Sam had touched on a little bit earlier.
So with that I’ll pass the puck to Pierre.
PIERRE McGUIRE: Thanks a lot, Eddie. Well, to me, it’s about the road traveled and the road traveled for Tampa was not easy. You think about this is a team in a non‑traditional hockey market that, yes, won Stanley Cup back in 2004; but beating three original teams to get to the Stanley Cup final is huge news.
And they did it with a team that at the beginning a lot of people said didn’t have enough experience or ability to win, especially on defense and in goal. Ben Bishop’s proven them wrong. Three times he was pulled in three different series and three times he responded, magnificent performance.
Just touching on what Eddie said about the goaltending: Ben Bishop has shown his resolve and ability to overcome, as have the Tampa Bay Lightning to beat three Original Six teams to get to the final.
In terms of Chicago, take it back to Game 1 of their series with Nashville and Corey Crawford being pulled and Ali had to bounce back after Scott Darling came in; and was in Game 6 in Chicago with Nashville with the lead and Scott Darling gets pulled and the first shot against Crawford is rifled off the post. And yet he comes in and bails his team out and they eventually win in six games against Nashville, and the rest is history for Chicago.
I thought Chicago’s performance in Game 7 in Anaheim was as beautiful as any game I think I’ve seen in a Game 7, just because of the way it was orchestrated by the coaches, the way the players responded and the way they were able to win in a very, very tough environment. This is going to be a fantastic Stanley Cup final because of the road traveled by both these teams to get here.
Pierre, here we are in the finals with two teams that have gotten so much hub for their top draft choices and while it might backup the theory that we are seeing places like Buffalo ‑‑ what does it say about the way Steve Yzerman and Stan Bowman have built around those draft picks and the importance much the GM in this era of the NHL?
PIERRE McGUIRE: It says a lot. Team building is a big part of being successful in this league and it comes in a lot of different forms. It comes in the team that you build around you as a manager, your scouting people, your assistant GM, your capologist and most people; it flows down to the coaching staff that you employ.
And finally, the type of team that you want to have: What type of player do you draft; what type of system do you want to play; what kind of style does your team want to be; what’s your organization identity long term.
Both these teams have clearly‑defined ideas of what they want their organizational identity to be and they have done it in a lot of different ways. Some of it has been through pro player procurement like in Chicago, a guy like Johnny Oduya in the market, Marián Hossa through free agency; Patrick Sharp in a trade, you can go down the line how they were built, everybody focuses on Kane being No. 1 and Toews being third overall pick. But when you look at it, it’s about the way the team was built through their organizational identity.
Same thing in Tampa when Steve Yzerman put this team over in 2010, they had no visual organizational identity, and he has totally changed it. And now they are a run‑and‑gun, fast‑paced team, and it’s because of the people that he has employed around them and the ideology he has given them to build around.
Sam, been seeing a lot of really great 4K zooms especially on some key, key plays throughout the post‑season so far. Will we see more of that in the finals and are there any other production elements or technology tools that are at your disposal for the Finals that can help you tell the story better throughout this whole final?
SAM FLOOD: We are going to play a lot with the 4K. Obviously we found a really good rhythm with that to showcase and to take different points in a specific play from one angle, so that’s all part of the plan. We’ll have more super‑mo to play with.
But again, hockey is a sport that needs to be shown wide and shown so you know where the puck might go next. So we are going to stick with what’s gotten us here, which is smart coverage of hockey, and not get in the way of the game and let the game tell the story and let our pretty fabulous talent tell the game with their voices.
Similar question with maybe some of the talent that’s on here, as well. A lot of you guys have been calling hockey for a really long time. How has the production abilities of what’s been going on in the truck helped you improve your job, changed how you do your job, and maybe we can start with dock on that question?
DOC EMRICK: Yeah, I think the first thing, since you said a really long time, that probably eliminates Pierre and Eddie. So I’ll step in.
I think the thing, too, that I notice most of all is that with the implementation of what is now ten years old, and having a man between the benches who cannot only have quick access to coaches for interviews, but also hear down there and describe what’s going on; and also size up any injury situations that we have.
We were always left in the early days of my doing this with guesswork. And we were cautioned by the various producers we work with that, you know, even though my nickname is Doc, I have nothing close to a medical degree and that we shouldn’t try to decipher that from 250 feet away; or at the old Madison Square Garden,300 feet away; that we should somehow or other leave that to the team physicians.
Whereas, with Pierre being down there, he’s able to at least get a grasp on first of all, whether it was the equipment guy or the trainer left, if the team doctor has come down, and he might be able to even overhear something.
I think that’s the one real bonus if you compare 30 years to now, along with the technology, we thought it was so radical back in the nine tees with super‑slow‑mo and all of that, but now to have the 4K and all these other things that are going on to enable NBC to see it and to show those things close‑up and really dissect them, is a huge thing for teaching the sport.
The advantage that I have with Eddie sitting next to me, and Pat Foley has maintained that Eddie does have a photographic memory; I think he must, because he only needs one replay to teach with. One is to show the play, and by then he’s back into his teaching mode again for young hockey players out there: Your stick needs to be in this position, not that one.
How he can do that at such short range, I don’t know, and with very little rehearsal time, because you don’t get any notice, here comes the replay that you asked for. So you’d better have remembered it right.
So I guess I’m saying in my usual long‑winded terms that I’m lucky to be working with two people that are as good at what they do as I am.
EDDIE OLCZYK: I think communication is such an important part of ‑‑ from the chair that I sit in on a nightly basis.
I guess to explain it is that when play is going on and something happens, I’ll be talking to our truck, and while the play is going on, I’ll be watching the live feed on one monitor and watching the replay on another monitor so that we come to a stoppage, we know where we’re going, because as Doc alluded to, there’s not a lot of time.
So we have to be exact and it’s all about team work. And it’s something that Sam has stressed over the years, and communication is the biggest thing.
So to be able to get it on the air, get it to where it needs to be, and to get out of that replay and let Pierre take the next one or Doc has a story, that’s why I think we’re the best in the business because there’s a lot of communication and we have great leadership in the truck and they direct us on where we’re going.
From an analyst point of view up top with Doc, there’s your multi‑tasking and trying to figure out where we’re going, and something that is important to the broadcast to show everybody, because the game is so fast, there’s no greater game in the world, and it’s up to myself and Pierre to take people inside and break it down; and then we’re not breaking any stride, so communication to me is maybe the greatest strength I think of our team on a nightly basis.
PIERRE McGUIRE: I would echo everything that Doc said and what Eddie said, and I’ll take it one step further and give credit where credit is due.
‘Inside the Glass’ was created and it was a vision of Sam Flood and Dick Ebersol. It’s ironic that it’s happening here in Tampa for Game 1, because I go back to Game 5 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final when Sam Flood approached me about potentially broadcasting a hockey game from between the benches. NBC had just secured the rights. He asked me straight up, “Do you think you can do it?”
And I said, “I know I can do it. But I don’t think the league will allow you to do it.”
He said, “You leave that to me and Dick Ebersol, and if you think you can do it, we’d like to have you on board,” and the rest is history.
So what’s happened with the technology and the things that have been pushed at NBC and the NHL on NBC and people have responded to that, it was pushed by Sam Flood and Dick Ebersol, and Sam is the man that had the vision to do this.
Eddie and Pierre, can you talk a little about the NHL has such parity, where No. 8 teams win the Stanley Cup, unlike any other sport, yet here we are. We have the Blackhawks in the finals three times in six years without exactly dominating the regular season. Just talk about the significance of that achievement and how it came together and what makes this team such a great post‑season team.
EDDIE OLCZYK: I mean, I think it is all about leadership behind the bench and the players buying into what the coach is selling. You know, they are able to take their game to another level. And what happened last year in losing in overtime like they did; they didn’t make a lot of changes, and they felt pretty strongly that they had the right group.
And the depth of this team and the way that they play ‑‑ I think it is, when you talk about a collection of people, and Joel Quenneville being the leader of that, you know, they find a way. And their stars are just that, on the biggest stage, and when they are needed most. And you’re right, they have got a chance to do something that is incredible in this era of the salary cap.
Look, what L.A. did, winning two Cups in three years, I mean, that’s pretty salty. You take it a step further, the Blackhawks have made the playoffs every year and came up short last year and now they are four wins away from winning their third Cup.
So I just think it’s about the people. Pierre touched on it earlier; it’s about a philosophy. And if somebody is going to be out of the line, and not pull that rope in the same direction, you’re going to have a bunch of guys you circling and telling you to get on board or don’t let the door hit you on the rear end on the way out.
I think it’s all about the people and the leadership that they have, and every day, and it’s not just on the biggest stage, but it sure seems that when the biggest stage is there, they seem to be able to step to the forefront more times than not.
PIERRE McGUIRE: Well, I’ll just second what Eddie says. Their philosophy is spectacular. There is a clearly defined chain of command in Chicago that starts with obviously ownership and goes down to John McDonough and Jay Blunk, and then flows through them to Stan Bowman and Scotty Bowman and the rest of the scouting staff.
And then obviously Joel Quenneville who I thought orchestrated a phenomenal Game 7 in Anaheim. That was as well coached a game as you’ll ever see from a visiting coach in a huge moment. But to me, it comes down to the leadership on the ice. And I think about Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews: All three of them have had success at the International level and have clearly had success at the NHL level; and it’s about players patrolling the room and policing, what Eddie was talking about: If you’re not prepared to pull the rope in the same direction then you’re not going to last.
It is as well‑run a team from the ownership side and the management side and the coaching side as any team in the league. It’s as well‑led a team as any team in the league because of those three men that I just talked about.
DOC EMRICK: Just jumping in with one extra thing: And they sure do a wonderful job with the saw. (Laughter).
Is that experience going to be a factor in this final that the Hawks have been there now for the third time and most of these guys have been there?
EDDIE OLCZYK: I think experience is always an ace in the hole when you get to this stage. But when you walk around that locker room in Tampa Bay and you talk to guys that maybe just arrived in the last year, whether it’s Stralman or Boyle or Coburn, Callahan; and you see Steven Stamkos’s leadership abilities and what he’s done.
Their coach has been a winner at every level he’s been in. I mean, Jon Cooper, he’s an infectious guy. His demeanor is very consistent, and I think the players feed off of that. But this is a whole new different animal for sure.
So I think they are going to rely on guys that have played in the Finals before. Boyle and Stralman most recently last year with the Rangers. But for me, there is something ‑‑ there’s no bigger stage for sure and at some point you’re going to have to rely on that experience.
Hey, sometimes it’s okay to be young and inexperienced and just go play and next thing you know, the Stanley Cup final is over. But for me, you can never put a price tag having gone through it, whether winning or losing, and I believe that wholeheartedly, that at least you know what the heck you’re getting yourself into.
PIERRE McGUIRE: Experience matters, definitely matters going into Game 1. What happens after Game 1, nobody can predict. But it definitely matters going into Game 1 because this is a completely different experience.
I remember being part of the ’91 team in Pittsburgh and seeing what it was like the first time. And then the second time around in ’92, you were much better prepared to be part of it. So there’s a little bit of a learning curve that you definitely have to go through, there’s no question.
If it’s a shootout, a high‑scoring game, does it favor one team over the other, and what matchups are you guys looking forward to seeing?
EDDIE OLCZYK: I said earlier, if both goaltenders are average in the series, we have a chance to see 6‑5 games every night because both these teams have the ability to be able to finish.
A lot of teams, a lot of players need eight, nine chances to go one goal. Johnson, Stamkos, Toews, Kane, those guys need one or two chances to score. And if the goaltending is average, I don’t think they will break the record, which I happen to be a part of their records of the most goals scored in the playoff series of back‑to‑back years. Yes, I was only minus four in those two rounds combined. So I wasn’t that bad defensively, Sam.
I think both teams want to play the same way, and it’s going to lead to chances. Both teams are going to get their chances for sure. But it should be a lot of fun and I know the Ducks bring in a couple extra pencils in, a pencil sharpener just in case we get one of those 7‑6 games for sure.
You guys have two different teams here, Chicago obviously an Original Six and Tampa an emerging strong hockey market, certainly up‑and‑coming. Do you guys prepare for the game in different ways given the fact that you’ll be calling the game here in Tampa and also in Chicago, and if so, how do you prepare for a matchup as such?
DOC EMRICK: No, it doesn’t really reflect anything differently that I do. It may be more information that you need but normally, a game for me is three, four hours the night before. Because especially before Game 1, because there are a lot of things that come to your mind about the match up and you want to make sure you’re historically backgrounded so that you have the right information for that.
Some of that will carry over from game‑to‑game, so you only have to do that once. And then the day of the game is the time spent with players, brief as it may be, it’s amazing, if you go to the skates, every once in awhile you’ll come out with something that does figure its way in.
But in terms of the cities, one way or the other, it really doesn’t matter. Now that ice rinks have been pretty well sealed off against any kind of humidity problems because of all of the gear that you have outside in Tampa.
Back when we were doing Dallas and New Jersey and they had all of these difficulties with ice problems because of the humidity in Dallas and the temperature, even though they do occur now, they don’t occur with great frequency at all. And a cloud busts right before game time and when they open the gates is about the only calamity is that they can’t deal with anymore. So the fact that one is a warm weather city or one can be or is not does not enter into it that much either.
So a long answer to say, I don’t think there’s much difference. The good thing is that I’m thrilled about the matchup for the reasons the guys have been giving you, and Sam, too is: It’s going to be a track meet. I don’t think there’s a shot put or a pole vault, but the rest of the events are going to be there.
Just wanted to see how you felt about the opportunity to cover run for the Triple Crown on Saturday, also. I’m sure you’d rather not have to miss a Stanley Cup final game, just kind of your feelings about what’s going to take place for you on Saturday.
EDDIE OLCZYK: Speaking for me Sam, I’d rather be at a hockey game than a horse race; is that what you’re saying?
I’m sure you’re conflicted and you’d like to do both ‑‑
EDDIE OLCZYK: A question for Sam maybe, if we can make that happen ‑‑ look, I mean, yeah, it is, for sure.
Two passions, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity that Sam has given me to be part of a great horse racing teams coverage on NBC, not only for the triple crown but last summer in the races I did, and also the breeders Cup. But I’ll be watching in New York after American Pharoah goes for the Triple Crown.
It’s going to be a real exciting day and just looking forward to being part of the coverage on the weekend. I mean, there was a scenario where Game 2 could have possibly been in New York with the Rangers if things would have came up a different way.
But I’m just thrilled to be working and to be hopefully a part of horse racing history on Saturday. But I’ll be watching Doc and Pierre and the crew from New York on Saturday night.
For Sam and Doc, congratulations on the record ratings the other night. I just wanted to know what this says about the growth of hockey in the United States.
SAM FLOOD: I’ll start and hand it off to you. I think it shows that hockey is moving beyond just the tribal nature where just the home markets watch.
I think the interest in hockey is growing on a yearly basis and part of it is how good the game is now, and the fact that there’s drama and at the end of a game, you can go five minutes without a whistle. There are no long timeouts where the play stops and 30 seconds of play takes 15 minutes to play.
The sport of hockey flies and it flows and it’s fun and it’s paced and it’s great. I think people are catching on to that. I think the pace of play has had a huge benefit ‑‑ has been a huge benefit for the sport of hockey.
DOC EMRICK: Yeah, there are passionate people all over the world that watch these games and they are able to watch them live, even if it’s 5:00 in the morning where they are sitting.
And that’s just to reflect what I think I’ve seen in the four decades that I’ve been doing this is in 1970, we had six Americans in the NHL and the rest were Canadians and the league operated very effectively and with entertaining hockey during that period of time. Gradually, some of the best athletes from other countries started to join in. Our game became much faster and I think you see it reflected really in these two teams that got here.
Of the Final Four, Tampa strikes me of the one that’s going to have the greatest long‑term benefit from this. I look at their lineup and they look like they can be back several times. The Blackhawks are not old by any means, but with their leadership they could be back several times. But Tampa has really impressed me in that regard, and I think that’s part of the reason the speed of both teams, reflecting really the speed of our sport now, is part of what has made this so popular.
We like seeing things that move quickly. As a baseball fan, maybe I’m a dinosaur. I know a lot of young people don’t follow the game because they feel it moves too slowly. For 20 years, the Pirates moved too slowly; they weren’t very good, and I’m a fan of theirs. They are much better now. So I can tolerate a little more than I did during those 20 idle years.
But I’ll never forget Bill Barber who was a great left winger on the Flyers teams of the 1970s that won championships, was sitting in his office as an assistant coach one day at the Spectrum, and he was watching a 10‑year‑old game between the Flyers and Rangers. This would have been in the mid 80s.
I stood there and watched it with him for a couple of minutes and I said, “Bill, it looks slow. ”
He said, “In my time, the guy who could skate really stood out. And now it’s the guy who can’t.”
And advance that forward two more decades. There aren’t any of them that can’t now.