Evason and Van Guilder weigh in on season that was

Photo courtesy of predators.nhl.com
Photo courtesy of predators.nhl.com

The Roundtable caught up with Ads coach Dean Evason and forward Mark Van Guilder to get their thoughts on the 2012-13 season after about a week of allowing things to sink in.

Coach Evason

On the season overall and the team’s finish:

“Mixed emotions obviously. When you first lose you’re very disappointed, obviously. When you sit back and look at the effort we put in, and how we actually got there down the stretch it’s very rewarding for the entire group. We played some great hockey down the stretch, and I don’t think we were burnt out or wore out, we just ran into a really good team that’s very similar to us.”

“At the start of the year and middle of the year there were a lot of learning experiences, and a lot of things we went through as far as the lockout and having it end and losing players. It was hard to gain momentum, but we found ourselves as the season went on.”

“We thought we had a really nice balance of developing individuals and certainly the players who got their first opportunities to play in the NHL; guys who came up from the minors like the Budishes and the Rasks. It all added up to creating a good winning atmosphere by the end of the season.”

On first year with the Admirals:

“For myself, personally it was a great learning experience. It was my first opportunity to be a head coach in pro hockey, and I learned a lot from this year from both the negative and positive experiences. Hopefully I become a better coach after going through all those situations that we talked about.”

“You could say it was like a real-life roller coaster where you get scared at some points, but when you finish the ride and look back the overall experience was a lot of fun.”

“The overall experience for me was very positive. This whole organization is just a first-class organization and it really allows its people to do their jobs. I really look forward to getting started again next year.”

On selecting any one player as an unsung MVP:

“We’ve got so many guys. You can go down the list starting with our back end in Hellberg. He’s a good example of a lot of our players that we had here when you watch his development from his first game of the season to the last game of the playoffs.”

“I could go down the line and name so many players that had such major impacts on our hockey club. Again, they’re developing but creating a winning atmosphere as well.”

On moving to and living in Milwaukee:

“I’d heard a lot about Milwaukee and had been here before and heard about the people and what a great city it was with its small-town feel, but big-city life.”

“The biggest thing I noticed was the people. I really have enjoyed the people of Milwaukee; not only the fans, though they and our season-ticket holders are amazing, but really the overall community supporting the team, but more importantly just being great people. It’s certainly made my first year here very comfortable.”

On the offseason and what his focus will be?

“When I came in last year I didn’t really know any of the players. I didn’t know their dimensions, I didn’t know where they sit, I didn’t know their skill levels, their personalities. Now we’re going into next season and a lot of our people that were here at the end of the year are going to be back.”

“It’s nice to have the ability to kind of depth chart your team, put your team on paper and kind of fill holes with our general manager who does a tremendous job in Paul Fenton. Now we can have an input on the abilities of these players. Hopefully we’ll be ahead of the game next year, as we might have been a little behind not knowing the personnel at the beginning of last year.”

Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus
Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus

Mark Van Guilder

On the season overall:

“Unfortunately we wanted to win a championship, but I think what we did the last month of the season or so and the stretch we went on to even make the playoffs was awesome.”

On comparing this year’s team to last year’s:

“I think every team has its own identity. We had a lot of young guys this year, and I think it was one of the most fun teams I’ve been a part of. They were really close and we had a great time. Obviously its a job for us, but at the same time we play the game, love it and have fun doing it. I had an absolute blast with this group.”

On his first year under Evason:

“Oh man, he was awesome. He demanded a lot from us, but at the same time made it fun to come to the rink. I think that’s key. Guys never dreaded coming to the rink for practice, but at the same time he demanded work ethic and discipline and all that kind of stuff.”

“I love playing for him and Stan (Drulia). They’re a great team. I think anytime you have a group of guys who love playing for their coach it goes a long way.”

On his favorite moments from the season:

“Always my best memories come from just me and the guys on the road being idiots and going to dinner, just joking around and having a good time.”

“As far as hockey goes, that last week of the season was just awesome. The whole season was on the line, and the intensity level of the games was great.”

On the offseason:

“I think it’s the same as every offseason for me. I just have to get better and work on my skating and skills, try to get stronger, faster. I think its important to not relax and take a break but spend the summer getting better.”

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