Updated Mar 27, 2012 - 6:38 pm
The Farwell Side
By Mike Caccioppoli
I spoke with General Manager Russ Farwell about several issues including the disappointing end to the season, the Birds not making the playoffs three years in a row and the upcoming Bantam Draft where they will have the first overall pick.
Mike Caccioppoli: Let's talk about the unhappy ending to the season. The team won a few games down the stretch and then lost to Everett in a game that would have put you in the playoffs. I'm guessing of the three years that you missed the post-season this has to be the most disappointing.
Russ Farwell: I don't know, I think they are all disappointing. I think the way it happened and winning those games and we kind of came together and had some momentum. It comes down to one game like that, I thought the guys played hard but we came up short so yes it's disappointing.
MC: In a way losing that last game in Portland buy a score of 8-2 was pretty much indicative of why the Birds missed the playoffs again. Going 2-24 against Portland, Tri-Cities and Kamloops.
RF: Well I don't know what you want there. Yes we didn't play well against Portland, we didn't get the points needed. That last game was disappointing because some guys didn't play well enough. I think we are just disappointed in that loss against Everett and that played into it.That game was the real story.
MC: If you look at that final week it was really the young guys like Honey, Troock and even Swenson that really carried that team. Are you disappointed that the vets didn't play better especially in the second half of the season?
RF: Yes.That would tell you that too.They are disappointed. I think Gallimore scored something like three goals in his last 15-20 games. That kind of stat isn't impressive, you need your older guys to play. A couple of guys like that dropped off in production. Some of our older guys struggled there is no doubt.
MC: You say you can't explain it but is it a matter of just too many guys having a down season, was it an effort thing? Is there any explanation at all as to why the older guys didn't seem to play for Steve down the stretch?
RF: Well the thing Mike to me is I don't think it's quite that easy. As far as Gallimore is concerned I think he was trying. He was trying as hard as he could, he couldn't muster anything, he wasn't as good as he was last year. I think he bought into Steve's system, they weren't at odds or anything. I don't think it happened quite as you described it.
MC: I don't want to put this all on Gallimore. I think you can look at a lot of guys. Lockhart dropped off..a lot of 18's and 19's. You have talked in the past about how your 18's and 19's have to carry you. You can look at Alos and Elliot and even Lund in the last month or so.
RF: Well you have to look at the team yes. We lost Alos at the end there. Lockhart's production dropped off. He was another guy I thought was on board. Production wise we needed him to take a step. I used Gallimore because he was our only 20 year old scorer and he led us last year. We needed more from our returning guys I think that's a fair comment.
MC: When you look at the younger guys like Theodore, Hauf and Honey etc..are you looking at those guys as the core of the team moving forward?
RF: When we lost Verdino even though it really set us back, it let the younger guys get more ice time.It was painful at times right after the deadline but there is no doubt towards the end they all took a real step forward. Those guys will be important to us. I think Deagle gave us a lot in the second half, I don't know if you put Rouse in that category of guys that underachieved but I think he gave us good service. I think his line was good. We expect them to take a step and go from there.
MC: Can the fans expect a real turnover when it comes to the roster?
RF: Well there's always turnover. Are you talking about trades?
MC: Well I'm talking about some of the 18's and 19's that didn't perform as expected. The guys that haven't developed the way you wanted from when they were 16. Are we still going to see them on this team next year?
RF: It depends on what kind of summer they have. In Jacobs' case he didn't come off that injury well. It took him a long time to get going. I don't think he had a good year. As an 18 year old we expected him to have a better year but I'm not throwing in the towel with him. I think Alos is capable. In a lot of cases I'm looking for more from those guys. I'm not quite sure what your question is. I notice you kind of put yourself in the fan category there, are you talking as a fan and not as a reporter?
MC: I'm talking about what the fans, the media, everyone that follows the team can expect. Alos and Elliot had a combined five goals. Is that acceptable?
RF: Scoring wise it wasn't. I think there is more to Alos, he was starting to get confidence, to kill penalties. I think there is another step in his game. Mitch didn't have a very good year there is no doubt, he will have to take a step and do more. We still have to go to camp, until we go to camp we don't know. There could be some roster moves, some guys will come and challenge for those spots so we will see what happens.
MC: The big thing coming up is the Bantam Draft. You have the first pick overall and I think three of the first 25 picks.That is a very big draft for the future is it not?
RF: Certainly. It is a good opportunity for us and it's looking like a deep draft so yes.
MC: A name that pops up everywhere as the guy to take is Matthew Barzal. What can you tell us about him and is he on your radar as the first pick?
RF: We are just starting to sort that out. He's certainly on our radar because he's a good player. He's a very good player and he's on everyone's list at this point in time.
MC: With some bad drafts in the recent past how do you reinstill confidence in you and your staff being able to choose the right players moving forward?
RF: Well how do I reinstill confidence? I'm very satisfied in the last few years in our picks. We've worked hard this winter and we are marching ahead. We are going to pick the best players. How do you reinstill confidence? You pick the players and watch them play I guess.
MC: We've talked in the past and I've also heard you in other interviews talk about the young defensemen coming in and you are confident about that. However where is the scoring going to come from? If you look at the numbers you probably need at least 50-75 more goals scored next season to be in the mix.
RF: I think we are going to have more offense. For example Theodore is going to have more offense from the back end next season. We will have to see what the Import Draft brings. The guys you are disappointed in like Alos and Elliot, I think those guys will score more. Hickman has way more to give, Honey is just coming into his own. Troock has shown us flashes, if he stays healthy he will give us more. The guys that are back have to take a step forward and we have to add to it.
MC: What might you be looking for in the Import Draft? A forward? A Goalie?
RF: Well we will be looking at the best best players. We aren't going in saying we have to have this or that. We will pick the best players we can. I would think we would take at least one forward. You have seen enough of those drafts to know it's quite a puzzle. You are always better to wait till after the NHL Draft till you make those decisions.
MC: Does Daniel Cotton have a chance to be the goalie for this team?
RF: Well sure he has a chance. He has to mature and go after it. He has to take a step forward to compete for the spot. He has to earn everyone's confidence out of the gate.
MC: Now that you haven't made the playoffs is there any regret at all that you didn't trade Pickard and get something for the future?
RF: If you had told me right then that we weren't going to make it then I maybe would have traded..I told you back then there weren't any viable offers there. We made the trade that we thought would help us for the future (Noebels). Looking back I couldn't invent a trade, I didn't get an offer that was viable at all, so it's just speculation.
MC: Let's not talk about the media at all, let's just talk about the fans because they spend the money and they put their heart and soul into the team. It has been three years in a row of not making the playoffs and that's not easy to do. What can you, the Owner and General Manager tell them to give them hope that this team will make a big improvement next season?
RF: We are committed..I brought Steve here and we are committed to his system. We are going in the right direction. It's important what he is doing, and to get the kind of players he wants. From a scouting staff and adding players this year we are confident. For now the guys coming back and the moves we make now will be Steve's guys. I'm very confident in his approach and his abilities. We are disappointed in the season, but we started to play towards the end. It was far too late but the guys are excited, that is how we have to play next year and that's the direction in which we're heading.
MC: So you bring in Steve and it doesn't work out the first season but will he have a real say in who plays on this team? Not only with trades but with the draft as well?
RF: He had this year and will have a say in the locker room with the guys that are back. He won't have a big say in the draft no. My scouting staff will make the decisions in the draft.
MC: What kind of changes have you made in the scouting staff, with some bad decisions that were made in the past in the draft?
RF: What bad deals are you talking about?
MC: I'm talking about the drafts that haven't panned out.
RF: We've talked about that in the past. I think since the Fleming draft I think we are comfortable with the picks we've made. Troock was a good draft for us. Long term we are going to have a very solid defense. That comes from the scouting staff and what they've done. We juggled our staff two years ago but we haven't seen any changes since last year.
MC: Are you confident with the job Colin Alexander is doing as the director of player personnel?
RF: Yes. He's a very hard working guy, he knows every single player. I know he's working hard this year, I'm confident about him.
MC: As the General Manager do you overrule people a lot? You have the final say correct?
RF: I have to be confident in that guys we have. Colin is the guy that sees all the players. He works with the scouts we have, but he also gets out and sees every guy. I see them at the end and we talk it over. If we have two guys we are considering we always defer to Colin at the end because he's seen them the most.
MC: Is there any situation where Russ Farwell the Owner replaces Russ Farwell the General Manager?
RF: I'm confident in the direction we are going. I don't envision that. I know we will get back on track and rebuild the team. That's what we've been working on. I was disappointed this season but I think we've taken a step and are committed to the path we are on.
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