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2017 AFHL Stanley Cup Preview

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2017 AFHL Stanley Cup Finals

Best Quotes from Media Day

April 3rd, 2017

Friends become foes when the puck drops on the Stanley Cup finals between the Pittsburgh Heroes and San Diego Gulls, Monday at 7 p.m. EST.

Monday was the annual media day on the eve of the finals. Management, coaches and players spewed comments about respecting their opponents and how much they value their contributions to the game of hockey.

Blah, blah blah.

When Game 1 gets under way, all those flowery comments go out the window because hockey’s ultimate goal is at stake. Over the next week, the Heroes and Gulls will battle, claw and chew their way for the opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup in victory.

Here are some of the most interesting quotes from media day:

There’s so much love for the Heroes’ Marian Hossa. The veteran forward has returned to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in 8 seasons during his AFHL career. His first trip was with the Buffalo Phantoms and resulted in a loss. This second trip is something most thought would never happen again because of his laid-back attitude and stage of his career. Many believe Hossa is still one of the best players in the world; he has been outstanding for the majority of the season and his teammates are feeding off his energy and production (maybe it’s the beard). But Hossa is ready to do whatever it takes to accomplish hockey’s greatest goal.

“Here we go,” he said. “Let’s do this. It was [worth the wait]. It would have been nice back in 2010, but you definitely appreciate it now this late in your career. You realize how hard you’ve got to work to get to this point and I’m happy to be here.”

During his career, there has been this stigma that he didn’t care enough about the game. That’s not the case and here’s why:

“If you know me, it doesn’t affect me,” he said. “I know I’m a great player. I know we’ve had some great teams, [they] just didn’t mix. It does take 30+ guys and that’s just the reality of it. I know this year’s team, one, two, three guys isn’t going to make us get here and to win it. So, it takes all 30+ guys and I realize that.”

 

The Gulls’ Dustin Brown has won a Stanley Cup before. He was young at the time but understands this opportunity doesn’t come around too often and when it does, you must seize it with your very best effort without leaving anything in the gas tank.

“It’s easy to be proud of yourself for doing what we’ve done, but we can’t afford to sit back, pat ourselves on the back and take a breath,” he said. “We’ve got a long summer ahead of you after this series, and you’re on the doorstep, and this is what we’ve worked our whole lives for and it’s an opportunity you can’t let slip by without putting your very best hockey out there. You can’t always control the result, but if each guy is worried about bringing his individual best game, we’re in good shape. But it’s one of those things you can’t just stop and take a look around because it’s gone in an instant, and the series is over. You’ve got to bring your best from the beginning of it, stay focused on your job and bring your best game.”

Gulls defenseman Drew Doughty on what it’s going to take to stop the Heroes’ Connor McDavid: “McDavid does everything well. In the first two rounds, put all their top players together and that would be McDavid. It’s going to be a lot harder but a lot more fun.”

Gulls forward Drake Caggiula doesn’t say much, but when you ask him about playing on the same team as McDavid, safe to say you’ll get an honest answer.

“I’m fortunate to have grown up playing with one of the best players in the world,” Caggiula said. “It’s fun to see him in practice and that’s something people may not think about. He’s a real grinder, always out there trying to get better. He skates extremely hard in practice. He’s a real competitor.”

No matter which Gulls player you asked about No. 97, work ethic was a major topic of discussion.

“That’s the reason he is the best player, just the way he grinds,” Doughty added. “Every shift, every practice. He’s got the hands and hockey sense not many players have. The reason he is where he is right now is because of how he grinds every day and probably all summer as well.”

Heroes’ captain Connor McDavid didn’t shy away from the questions about the leadership core and all the changes, ebbs and flows during recent seasons. Now, that the team is ready for the Stanley Cup finals, everything has fallen into place nicely for the Heroes. They are only one win shy of hoisting the Cup, but the captain is quick to slow things down.

“There’s a lot left to accomplish,” he said. “Especially for the guys who were here during the rebuilding years, you never want to have to go through something like that to get to where you are now, but that’s what this team has done. You don’t stop. Just stay with it. There are some guys who had a chance to stay together and, whether it was going to happen or not, stuck together and stayed with it and the team this year has really come together and played well, so we’re here now, so we’ll try to stay focused here for the next week.”

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