I sat down with center Derek Armstrong. Since he’s one of the few veterans in the locker room now, I wanted to get his thoughts on playing on a team with so many young guys. Here’s his thoughts…
Question: With so many young players here, what do you want them to know about what it takes to be a NHL player?
ARMSTRONG: “You have to work every day. You have to realize that when you get to this level, it’s a job. Obviously it’s just a game but you have to represent yourself well. It becomes a jo. They’re not only trying to feed themselves, but some of us have a wife and kids. That’s what they have to realize. It’s not just about them anymore; it’s about playing a team game and having everyone support each other because we all have families to feed. That’s when it becomes different.”
Question: Is there a certain excitement about having this many young guys around?
ARMSTRONG: “Yeah, it’s going to be great. There’s a lot of young kids and we know there are probably going to be a few heartaches, but that’s the thing. If things start going south a little bit, as they do on any team at times, you have to be able to put a stop to it right away. That’s going to be the key. Then when you start winning a lot of games, it’s the same thing. You’ve got to learn how to keep an even keel, especially at this level. You can’t get up too high or get down too low. That’s part of being a professional. The quicker you learn that, the better off you’ll be.”
Question: As a guy who has been through Andy Murray and Marc Crawford and now Terry Murray…
ARMSTONG: “We had (John) Torchetti too, don’t forget.”
Question: That’s true. What is that like, to start over with a new coach and new staff?
ARMSTRONG: “It’s exciting. Obviously the thing that’s different is the systems. A lot of guys are worried about scoring, but I’m out there trying to learn the systems. You try to learn that stuff first, and then the other stuff comes. I’m just trying to learn the systems so that I can get it down pat and then I can help teach the other guys a little bit too. Us older guys need to learn and help the younger guys.”
Question: What do you see your role on this team being?
ARMSTRONG: “I haven’t really talked much to them yet. I think I’ve always kind of been a leader in my own way. I’m just going to try to provide support and be as professional as I can every night and show them what work ethic is about and maintain standards. It’s a long season but you can’t take a day off. If you have a bad day, you better not have two bad days in a row. I think that’s an important thing that I’ve always tried to pride myself on. You’re going to have bad days, but try not to have back-to-back bad days.”