As the team prepares for the West Division Semi-Final against the Colorado Mammoth this Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, CalgaryRoughnecks.com sat down with general manager Mike Board to discuss the regular season.
Q: The Roughnecks were able to clinch the West Division, how do you feel the season went?
A: There was a learning curve in our entire season as they usually are in a tight league. I think our goal of ‘let’s get better every week’ was accomplished. It all matters now, and through the regular season, that was the goal to be ready and improving in each week of the regular season and to be ready for the playoffs.
Q: This was Curt Malawsky’s first season, how do you feel he did?
A: He did a great job. Our coaching staff worked really well together. They prepared the team well, they did a really good job. There was never a gameplan that we didn’t like. Nothing gets executed perfectly in this league, I suppose, but from the preparation side, and I think our players would say the same thing, is that the coaching staff was open and communicative and all that type of stuff. I think it went quite well.
Q: Your first trade as a general manager was acquiring Shawn Evans back in your first year, are you amazed by the numbers he put up this season?
A: I suppose you have to. Anytime a player in your league can win the scoring championship, you’re pretty impressed with his numbers. Curt Malawsky was very involved in that trade because it was such a big trade. It was the first one we were making as an organization after purchasing the team so we thought long and hard on it. We zeroed in on it. We were able to find a dance partner in Rochester and he’s been the guy we expected him to be. I think this year after a year under his belt, he was great in our offensive system and felt more comfortable. If you look, he’s got a tonne of assists as well as key goals. There was probably a little growing period in the first year, but in the second year, he absolutely exploded.
Q: It’s been the same roster year, was it key to keep that chemistry together this season?
A: I think it was important. If you’re going to mess with your chemistry, it could be a dangerous thing – sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. Going back to staying with the gameplan of improving every week, we didn’t want to make any moves just to make moves just because we felt it was something that needed to do. We did like the chemistry. At the trade deadline, we looked at bringing in guys that would bolster the character and help the team at the same time without upsetting that chemistry. There just wasn’t anything there. There wasn’t any big, big trades at the deadline because the league was so tight and everyone was in it. There weren’t a lot of options out there. We tried but we didn’t feel like we had to make a deal because we did like our group and the chemistry that we had.
Q: We’ve talked about the parity in this league, what will be some of those keys in the playoff race?
A: You can never take anything for granted in this league. You have a bad quarter, you have a bad 10 minutes in a quarter and the game can get out of reach. Every team has its weapons, every team has its goaltending. I think the goaltending in the league is outstanding right now. All the teams have strong defences so there are no real weak-points in any of the teams. Look at Buffalo who didn’t make the playoffs. Last year, Washington didn’t make the playoffs, this year they are right at the top of the West Division with a 9-7 record. That’s how tight things are, so if you take anything for granted, you’re going to find yourself on the losing end and watching playoffs instead of playing in them.