Tuesday afternoon, Matt Bradley met with D.C. media. Here’s the transcript:
Q: What are your emotions tonight?
Bradley: Obviously I really enjoyed my time here and have a lot of great friends on the other team. But now I’m a Florida Panther, and I’m excited about that, and yeah, it’s going to be different coming in, playing on the opposing side. But we’re just getting ready for a game against a top team.
Q: Do you say hello to old friends – do you get a chance to do that here?
Bradley: We just got here late last night. We didn’t have a pregame skate, so I haven’t even seen anybody. But, yeah, I’ll definitely say hi to all the guys.
Q: Is it different to be visitor this time around? You’ve seen hockey grow up around here.
Bradley: I started here when hockey wasn’t as popular as it is now. It’s great to see how they’ve come so far and how now they’re one of the top franchises in the league and sell out every game. And it’s an unbelievable place to play and an unbelievable building.
Q: Do you still stay in touch with any of the guys over there?
Bradley: Yeah, there’s a couple guys that I still talk to. I had a lot of great friends over there and I had a lot of great times here.
Q: I’m sure there will be a lot of chatter out there. What do you expect from them?
Bradley: I’m just expecting from them just to play the way they play. They’re one of the top teams in the league if not the top team. All of us here are ready for a real big test, because these guys are the measuring stick.
Q: Do you plan on saying anything to Alexander Semin?
Bradley: If I see him, I’d rather say something to him in person. Obviously I’d like to apologize to him. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that after the game.
Q: Is that the kind of thing that once you said it, you wish you could take it back?
Bradley: Yeah, 100 percent. As soon as I said it… people who know me know that’s not my style and I’m not that kind of guy. As soon as I said it, I knew I shouldn’t have said it, and for whatever reason I had a mental lapse. All I can do now is apologize and move forward because I can’t take what I said back.
Q: Since then, that team has really stressed accountability. Do you think you affected some change?
Bradley: My only view on it is I had no business saying the things I said. I just want to leave it at that. It’s a great organization, a great team. Alex is a great player, and I apologize for what I said. I’d like to move forward.
Q: Could you talk about facing Alex Ovechkin as an opponent?
Bradley: Well, he’s the best player in the world so it’s obviously going to be challenging for all of us to play against him. But you can only hope to contain a guy like that because they’re that good. It’s pretty tough to keep him off the boards. If you can contain him and keep him at bay is probably the best you can do.
Q: What do you think of the role you’ve had [with the Panthers]?
Bradley: I love our team here, I love our coaches. We’re a real tight group even though we haven’t been together very long. So it’s fun coming to the rink. It’s a lot like we were here in Washington – we were all great friends. And have a lot of fun in the room. It’s really relaxed, which I like.
Q: Have you ever played on a team like this where everyone is new?
Bradley: No. It was definitely a getting to know period for everybody when we got to camp because there was a couple of guys left over from last year’s team and then obviously a bunch of new guys. But most of us all knew each other from playing against each other and I knew what kind of guys, players’ wise they were. I knew they were all great players. It’s great to get to know them as guys and find out they’re great people, too.
Q: Will it be easy to hit them tonight?
Bradley: Yeah – you have to put friendship aside and it’s business. We’re here to get two points and win games. I’ll have to do whatever it takes.
Q: Did it make it any easier to adjust because there are so many new guys?
Bradley: Maybe a little bit. You’re not the only guy going through it. It’s not like they had a core set of guys and you’re getting added to the puzzle. It’s almost like they’re remaking the puzzle. I guess a little bit. But like I said – it happened really quickly. We gelled really quickly and it’s a great bunch of guys and a great atmosphere.