Claude Julien has given more than a couple of’… let’s say “motivational” quotes about Ryan Spooner the last couple of days, as the Bruins coach has answered questions about the 2010 second-round pick with some rather blunt responses.
So after Wednesday’s game, Spooner was asked straight-up: Does he think his coach is trying to motivate him with his public comments?
“Yeah,” Spooner said. “At the end of the day I think he just wants me to be a more all-around player. It’s something that I’ve been trying to improve on, so I’m just going to forward with it like that.”
Here’s what Julien said Tuesday when asked about Spooner knowing he was blocked on the depth chart in training camp last year:
“Maybe that’s why he didn’t make it, if he thought he didn’t have a chance. We give everybody a chance that deserves to be here. I think it’s important that he keeps an open mind.
“As always, if he’s that good, we’ll make room for him. We’ve always done that in the past. I don’t think we’ve ever let guys rot in the minors when they deserve to be here. That applies to him; it’s up to him again to come in here in these preseason games and show that he’s an improved player and that he belongs on this hockey club.”
Then, after Spooner scored a goal and was on the ice for two against the Canadiens, Julien said this, per the Boston Globe:
“We love his game offensively. At the same time, you can score one goal, but if you give up two, you’re not helping your team. We need commitment from that part of his game. He said he’s going to work hard at it. But it’s a good start for him. The goal he scored was one we’ve asked him to do ‘ take pucks to the net. That’s a step in the right direction for him.”
On Wednesday, Julien was asked about forwards playing defense in his system and said the following:
“Everybody has strengths and you want them to utilize them, but at the same time at the NHL level you have to be able to be reliable. So we’re not asking certain guys to be physical if they’re not. We’re not asking them to slide and block shots if that’s not what they do.
“But we ask them to be reliable, because if you’re not, as I mentioned (Tuesday), you can give us some great opportunities up front and score goals, but if you give up more chances against than you create then you’re not helping the team. In the long run, you don’t win championships that way.
“When it comes to defensive play, it’s called commitment and that’s all it is. You don’t ask, necessarily, for skill when it comes to playing defense. It’s a commitment. Are you going to backcheck hard or are you going to work hard to have your man? Are you going to battle to get the puck and get it out?
“I don’t think it has a lot to do with skill. It has a lot to do with commitment. In order to win championships, you need commitment.”
Asked Wednesday whether Julien was saying the same things to him directly as he was saying to the media, Spooner said the conversation has been the same.
“Yeah,” he said. “[Defense] is something I haven’t really had to kind of focus on, but at this stage of my career, it’s something that’s going to keep me here. I have to focus on that and just go with it.”
Spooner played 23 games for the Bruins last season, scoring no goals and registering 11 assists. He is currently competing for the fourth-line center role with Alexander Khokhlachev and Gregory Campbell, the latter of whom has not practiced thus far in training camp due to a core injury.