Last week, Brad Larsen appeared on 97.1 FM The Fan's "Rothman & Ice" to discuss the possibility of a Gaudreau-Laine tandem, Kent Johnson, and more.
Here are some excerpts of what he had to say. The full interview can be found at this link.
Do you run camp the same way John Tortorella did?
"You put your own flavor on it, right? If you listen to any time I talk about my relationship with Torts we saw eye-to-eye on your ability to skate, conditioning, that relentless type of play. So, how we go about it's probably a little bit different. But I think if you ask any of the players that went through camp last year, I'll let them speak on it. Let's put it that way. I think they'll all be ready and prepared for this year [and] what's coming because it's not easy..."
Thoughts on Johnny Gaudreau?
"Well, he's a special player and these guys don't come available...It did come out of nowhere...It was early afternoon and Jarmo said, 'he wants to come here'...He's a quality guy...I compare him to [Artemi] Panarin where he makes everybody better on the ice no matter who he's with...Everybody's looking for this magic answer for why he came in [to Columbus], and I think he's been very honest...And he chose us. So that in itself is huge...But I said this, he's not the savior. This guy is not coming to put the team on his back. He's one guy...He's going to be a part of our team. And we're looking forward to it, for sure..."
Expectations for the upcoming season?
"I think you gotta be careful of putting numbers or wins...First and foremost the goal is to make the playoffs. That's where you want to be because time and time again, as you see, once you're in anything can happen...Now this year is taking that next step and you add a guy like Johnny and don't forget Gudbranson...I love that we're getting a little bit older, a little bit more experienced. We're going to be a little bit stiffer this year, which I think we needed to get some size and some strength and some hunger and now we have guys that are one more year into it, the Cole Sillingers, the Chinakovs we have guys in our leadership roles that are into it more. So now it's time to take that next step...That's going to be the expectation right from camp you know, be that relentless, hard-checking team, the team that nobody wants to play against every night, that they're gonna have to earn two points to play against you if they're gonna win and I'm excited..."
A Laine-Gaudreau duo in the future?
"Look, everyone knows Patrik is gonna get a shot to play with Johnny. When that happens, I don't know...It doesn't take rocket science to figure out you have one of the best passers in the game and a guy who's one of the best finishers in the game...But I've also said chemistry is a funny thing. If we all had it right from the start, I mean, we could pin these lines up and go 'that should work perfectly', right? But rarely does that happen. And when you're talking 82 games and you're talking injuries and different things that happen and sometimes you fall into some combinations...As far as center, I think everybody's gonna get a bit of a look...I don't think anybody's penned in there right now..."
Thoughts on Kent Johnson?
"Well, he's 19...It's that word potential, right? He's useful but he's got crazy skill. I think he thinks the game really well on both ends of the puck. He's got really good instincts...It's like those guys tend to know where to go sometimes...They have this instinct that these seem to be in the right spots all the time and I watched a lot of that World Juniors, Aaron, you could see it. I mean, he led the tournament [in] shots. He was a little bit snake bit and then in the biggest games, he showed up...Huge game against the Czechs in the semis there and then obviously getting the big goal there in overtime...To do that in Canada, gold medal, and on home ice. I guess you can put it that way because it was in Canada. That's something he's never gonna forget."
There are 42 days until opening night.