Texas Stars Media Day: A 1-on-1 Chat with GM Scott White

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

UPDATE: Texas released Nick Canade, Justin Misiak, Michael Pastujov, Janis Svanenberg, and Cory Thomas this afternoon.

Today was the Texas Stars media day. The team played a scrimmage that covered 5v5, 4v4, 3v3, shootout and special teams play. Meanwhile, 100 Degree Hockey and the assembled media had a chance to chat with a few players and head coach Neil Graham.

In addition, I had the chance to sit down 1-on-1 with general manager Scott White in one of the intermissions to discuss the current state of the team. In the interest of completeness of speed, I've put together our chat in a lightly-edited format for today's post.

100 Degree Hockey: What does the rest of the week look like getting getting this team to Friday?

Scott White: "We're gonna make some moves today after scrimmage, trim it down a little bit. Usually in the first weekend, we'll probably carry a couple extra guys just because most teams do. It allows our group to practice with a pretty full group. We've got to [cut] down probably again after the weekend. [We have] a couple of hard decisions to make here, but it is what it is. I don't want young players to sit and watch if they can get down and play some games down in Idaho."

100 Degree: One of those hard decisions is definitely what to do in net. You have four here and only two can play each night. What are you looking at in terms of development for Scheel and Poirier?

White: "We're gonna send one down for sure and then we'll kind of play it by ear. It's always good, especially early on with [potential] injuries, to have an extra guy around. We'll just run with three for a little bit until we think it's not convenient anymore. That's kind of my plan anyway."

100 Degree: It seems like you guys have been comfortable in the past platooning guys back and forth to Idaho as play warrants, two weeks here two weeks there to get that taste. Is that a strategy you think you might employ this year?

White: "Oh yeah, we want the guys to play games. I just don't want guys practicing and sitting in the stands, especially if they're younger players or they don't have a lot of experience in the league. It's important for them to play. It keeps them fresher, and it actually makes them more ready when they get their chance back in the AHL lineup."

Matt Murray (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

100 Degree: We didn't really talk last year about the pickup of Matt Murray on the ATO and now he's on a rare two-year AHL deal and was in Dallas camp. How did you find him and get him?

White: "Well, he's been with a good program for a long time, winning important games is always big.  He's a bit of a smaller guy from an NHL perspective, but he's got good quality, good technique. Our guys in the field saw him; we all saw him. We liked him. 

"You know, things like that are just circumstance. We just were in the market [for a goalie], and it worked out. It worked on a two-year deal, and he understands he's got an opportunity. Most importantly, he showed what he could do late in the year last year. Now it's a matter of doing it again. Everybody was wowed by him last year. From my perspective, that's all great. I think he has the ability as to go do it again."

100 Degree: I just I walked in today and I was looking at the roster and I mean, I can't believe the number of guys you guys have on staff now. Just think about that first year, right? You had Glen Gulutzan, Paul Jerrard, Elvis on equipment and the training staff. Now you have video, you have two coaches. It just feels so different.

White: "It's changed in the 13 or 14 years, and we were probably later on it than other teams. But I've always said is like we we were going there but it was a matter of getting the right people in place. And people that I felt good with, Jim felt good with, [Mark Janko] felt good with. When [Max Fortunus] was done [playing], when [Travis] Morin was done, it worked out right. He's bought in and really dove into the coaching part of it. 

"And then Max, he's still playing and he and I communicated so I knew what [his] situation was. Same with Ryan [Daniels], it just it worked out. We're trying to hire another staff member for the training staff just because the players need it. We want to get the right person that's the whole thing because I want to make sure we surround our players with these great folks."

Assistant coach Maxime Fortunus (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

100 Degree: Looking at Max Fortunus specifically, it's his second year. How have you seen him mature as he has come into the coaching side of things?

White: "Well, it's hard. When we were in the hiring processes, I told him it's hard when you're sitting on the bench with two hands on your stick and then you stand behind it and you're looking at name bars, and it smells different. You're in a suit. It takes a little while to separate yourself from the game that way.

"I think he grew. A lot of people don't know that presentation is a lot of what coaches do. That's improved, and he would admit that. It only improves by experience, right? He's got a good teacher with Graham. He's really good at it. 

"I think in talking with our players they are comfortable. Obviously they respect the player and the person but then he had to learn as a coach too. I think he grew as the year went on and now it's up to Max to take the next step in terms of 'How am I gonna get better?' That's the challenge as a coach, no matter what level, but at this level, it is vitally important."

Texas opens the season on Friday at home against Colorado.