I have to admit the loss with the Devils in the second round of the Stanley Cup is still in my head. It was not like we lost because of an accidental or unlucky goal scored in the seventh game, when one is just sitting, not believing he has lost, and keeps telling himself what a heap of bad luck he had. We are out because New Jersey outplayed us.
I still can’t explain why we stopped skating, all of a sudden! Or why we were so weak, when everything had been ideal against Pittsburgh. I don’t understand at all how they could suddenly outplay us...
The matches were tight, but our overall performance was worse than theirs, that much is clear. Perhaps we had all been convinced we would win before the tie actually started. And that might also have been a problem.
As to myself, there were rumors regarding my injury. The fact is I did have problems with my thigh, it had happened during the last game against Pittsburgh, but then I had a week to get myself together. The thigh actually did not hurt that much during the games, so I don’t think I should use it as an excuse.
But the fact is I could not train so much, I attended perhaps one training session. And when a man of my age misses five or six training sessions, it is felt … Especially if you take into account the pace of play-off games. But there is no use to dwell on it; injuries are part of play-off games. I wasn’t the only one. However, there was another thing that struck me.
None of our team had the drive and skating we had shown against Pittsburgh. The Devils’ players were much stronger at the boards, we were not helping each other and seemed to be scattered on the ice. It reminded me of a basketball match in which all of us are moving somewhere at the three-point line and wondering why we are unable to go after and snatch any rebound...
We were simply too dispersed. We were like a palm; they were like a fist. They were sticking together; we were like a hand with outstretched fingers. We really were feeling desperate at that time.
The atmosphere in the team was excellent throughout the whole season, so good I wished the season to go on and culminate in a victory. It was really unbelievable; I had never experienced anything like this before.
Although the training session was supposed to take just an hour and a half, all of us spent five to six hours in the arena anyway, because no one felt like going home. I didn’t take it as work, but rather as something I enjoyed.
As to my future, we’ll see which way the winds will blow. There’s no reason to hurry. I do not intend to make any keynote statements now. There is some situation now, but what if Philadelphia decides to sign other free agents to whom it will give more chances to play?
In that case, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to stay. It wouldn’t be good, either for me or for the Flyers. For the time being, what I have said still holds true – I would like to spend another year in the NHL. But let’s see what will happen. A lot will depend on the direction the Flyers will want to follow.
As to myself, when the season was over I mentioned I had a feeling I could have played more in certain moments. But it’s not just about the time you spend on the ice. I am not a fool to think I could play twenty minutes in a game.
With my age, it wouldn’t do me much good, I am not after it. It is something else; it is about the rhythm of the game. Actually, I have to admire the fourth line guys – they spend ten minutes sitting on the bench, then the coach releases them on the ice. They don’t have to score, but even so...
I have now learnt this the hard way myself. My legs had never been hurting before during a game, but this time they were, when I had to just sit and do nothing for ten minutes. And mind you, I had been training like crazy! But now I feel a different kind of pain or ache in my legs than anytime before …
It is not about playing twenty minutes in every game; I am quite happy with the fifteen minutes I am allocated, but there should be a regular rhythm. I am not a member of the penalty-killing lineup, our line is second to go on the ice during a power play, and if you throw in a commercial break, or perhaps a time-out, you find yourself sitting for eight or ten minutes. Which is what I hate. Then a short spell on the ice, long time on the bench, a short spell on the ice again… The irregularity simply kills me.