OTHER highlights from Mark Chipman's media conference on Good Friday:
On whether the season lived up to his expectations:
"No, it didn't. I mean, it did in some respects. I was just visiting with Chevy (GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) this morning and while we have clearly a long-term plan to be successful in this league, we also had a short-term plan and that was to make the playoffs and we didn't do that. So, in that respect this season did not live up to my expectations."
"Clearly it would be the support we got from our fans. It was indescribable."
Personal highlights from the season:
"There are several. I was fortunate to be with our team in Tampa Bay last weekend and the support of our fans there and shout-out of 'True North' from our fans in visiting buildings... I'll remember that forever."
On what changes need to be made for next year:
"That's a tough one for me to answer. I don't want to leave the impression that I'm managing our hockey team, because I'm not. That's what our professionals do. We're a young team and we stayed young by design. We agreed that we needed to let our young players play and that's how they're going to get better."
On the work of head coach Claude Noel:
"I think Claude's done a phenomenal job."
On how much freedom Cheveldayoff has to spend in free agency:
"They have freedom to do that. The first step is we've got to secure our young guys, those that are expiring on their entry-level contracts or have restricted status. That will be the priority and then depending on how that settles out... if there's an opportunity to make our team better through free agency we'll certainly consider that this summer. The challenge is, can we really do that? There are teams that tried to do that last summer and are on the outside looking in this year."
On whether he was concerned about a possible letdown in interest nationally or locally:
"I'm sure it will taper off nationally because it was a unique story and, for the most part, a goo d-news story outside of our marketplace. But I don't see it tapering off at all. I can more easily imagine it amping up. We're here now. We're not going anywhere. We're here and very excited to be here and I think that will, hopefully, only equate to even greater interest as we move ahead."
-- Ed Tait