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Jacques Martin, Pete DeBoer Speak ... Rostislav Olesz back in Two Weeks ... Nick Boynton Back on Team

Jacquespete Nick Boynton met with Pete DeBoer today and all is well. ''Everything is back to normal,'' he said.

Second, JM told us that Rostislav Olesz should be back at practice tomorrow and could be back in the lineup within two weeks.

Also, JM says Bryan Allen is out for the season.

As always, keep checking back. Plenty more to come.

Here is what Jacques Martin had to say. Pete DeBoer is down below....


-- Your reasons for not trading Jay Bouwmeester:

As I said before, I explored the possibility of moving Jay Bouwmeester. But, I made it clear in the past couple of months we would only move him if we felt we thought it would improve our club. We didn't have an offer than would improve our club so we're very pleased he's with us.

As I've said before, I like our hockey club. I felt we've played 64 games and have put ourselves in a playoff position. We keep improving. I think we have one of the strongest goaltending tandems in the Eastern Conference when you look at our goalies and their save percentage and look at their performance. I think they've done a real good job with our team.

I said at the beginning that our defense would be the strength of our club and today we improved our defense. Not only did we keep Jay Bouwmeester, but we acquired Steve Eminger for Noah Welch. With Eminger, we gave our coaches more flexibility. Look at the ice time and the role Eminger played in Tampa, look at his stats, he can step in here and make us a better team. He gives us more speed and quickness on the back end with people like Boynton and Ballard and McCabe. We also still have physicality from Skrastins and Boynton.

Our forwards, we like what they've done. We've had injuries in December to some of our skill guys, but we've been able to overcome that. Our young kids are getting better, Matthias and Repik, in case we have any injuries. You have to look at, although I didn't acquire anyone, Olesz is probably going to be back in two weeks. He's an addition for us up front.

-- Were you very close to doing something?

I think there were some offers, but like I said, in the end, we're very pleased to have Jay here. We feel we've had some good communication with his agent and can concentrate on finishing the season strong, getting into the playoffs, do well in the playoffs and we'll readdress this after the season.

-- Tough decision knowing Jay could be lost for nothing?

I think we as an organization established a while ago what our priority was before I entered into this. We all agreed – hockey management and ownership – that the most important thing was to make the playoffs. That's why we're here with this scenario.

-- Negotiations continue?

I'll wait until the end of the season. I think it's common sense. We have a lot of important games coming and I want him to focus on playing. We'll have a lot of time between the end of the season and July 1. Lets focus on winning hockey games, focus on getting into the playoffs and focus on winning in the playoffs.

-- Can you sway Jay with success this year?

I think so. When you look at some of the comments he's made to the media, and the talks we've had have been positive. We'll revisit at the end of the season.

-- How many legit offers?

I don't think I should say the number, but there were legitimate offers. They were offers that didn't fulfill our needs. I wanted two players in return, a defenseman who could play in our top four. Some teams thought their defense could play in our top four. Obviously I didn't. We did have some offers.

-- Did the moves of other teams have any influence on your decisions?

You don't control what other teams do. I think it's important that you don't get carried into that. I think it's important to really evaluate what the needs are of your team and address those needs. I think we did, from a standpoint of first of all, we retained Jay, so we know what he's brought us and what we have moving forward. And I think we've added some strength to our defense by acquiring Eminger versus Welch. At the same time, What look at is Olesz coming back as an addition to our club.

-- What does Eminger bring?

He's a player that Peter's familiar with. He played for him in juniors when they won the world cup, so I think that's important, when you look at Gregory Campbell's progression this year. No. 2, I think he brings more quickness to our backend moving forward, which I think is important. We've got people that are going to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. So we're adding another player that's going to be our property.

 -- Anything new with Boynton?

He's going to be back with the team ... he knows where he stands and is back to competing and hopefully will help our hockey club down the stretch. I think Nick brings some experience, he brings a physicality, some toughness to our backend. We think that he'll help our team.

 -- So he should be back in lineup tomorrow?

That's the coaches decision who they want to use.

-- At one point you wanted to upgrade at center but now Nathan is playing well

It's something that I did some work on, Brian. I think we weren't able to accomplish that. It's something that we're still going to look at down the road. I guess right now at this point, I feel that we're good enough and that we have Shawn that's been playing a lot better lately in Rochester. Hopefully that's another, if we do have some injuries that can help, but I still feel that I like the chemistry of our club. I feel confident that this team is good enough to be in the playoffs. It's not going to be easy, but I think that when you look at our schedule, I think it's favorable, as far as home versus away. We just finished a stretch here where we played the top teams in our conference and were about .500. It's a team game and we've just got to keep working as a team.

-- Look at Chris Neil?

No. I didn’t think that was a part we were looking for.
-- How about Antoine Vermette?

It’s a guy we looked at, but if you look at what they got, we didn’t have a Pascal Leclaire to give them. It was a situation where we couldn’t meet their needs.

-- How much did Pete DeBoer play in the Eminger deal?

Like any other player, we do our due diligence. Peter knows his character. Obviously our scouts have seen him play. We’ve evaluated him. I believe we’re getting Steve at the right time. When you look where he was drafted, he was a first-round pick and in the early years, I’m not sure he was ready but he probably had trouble with his identity in the National Hockey League. Playing at his own comfort level. Only this year did he establish himself, when you look at his contribution and how he played. He’s not coming into a situation where we’re depending on him. When you look at our defense he’s probably the youngest. So we’ve got a strong nucleus of veteran defensemen. He brings quickness and speed, he’s a right-hand shot, so it’s something where he’s got ability to play second power play, we’ve had three guys on the back end most of the year. So our coaches have more flexibility with him there.
 -- Bryan Allen?

He’s out for the season.
-- Olesz?

He’s been skating on his own and will probably skate with the team tomorrow. So we’re looking at about two weeks.
-- Disappointed how it worked out with Welch?

I am disappointed. But it’s not his fault. Last year he was playing coming out of training camp, then had an injury and missed the whole season. This year it just happened we have a veteran defense. Look at Cory Murphy, he couldn’t get in our lineup and went to Tampa and has decent statistics. IN some ways you’re disappointed, in others you feel good because it’s an indication your defense is strong. Because of the nature of our defense and who we’ve added — people like Ballard, McCabe and Boynton, three veterans with a fair amount of experience, and skilled.
-- Is Tampa a good opportunity for Noah?

I think so. But like I said before, it really helps us. He was our seventh and not getting ice time. Touch wood, we haven’t had many injuries in our defense in the second half, but if we did I feel more comfortable. We’re much better equipped to go to war with what we have.

-- What do the Panthers have to do to justify holding onto Jay?

I don’t know if I can answer that. It’s a good question. Don’t think I can answer it now. But to make the playoffs is the most important thing. Look at three years ago, when Carolina won the Cup, Edmonton went to the final after getting in on the last day of the season. So once you get in, it opens the door. When you look at our goaltending, our defense…

-- Were you getting serious offers for Jay?

Right to the wire. 


I think one intangible as a group is our chemistry and how everyone has bought into their role with the team. Anytime you bring in new people there's a chance you disturb that. We kept that intact and I'm excited about it.

-- Talk to Jay today?

No. From my perspective it gives us a little longer to convince him to stay. I think anyone around the team this year has a real appreciation to how good he is and to how important he's been to our team. For me, the longer we have him here just extends the opportunity to impress him and get him to stay.

-- Show him a new winning attitude?

That's the game plan. You would have to talk to him. He sees the direction we're going and he's bought in as much as anyone in the room. He's played some great hockey. Where his decision lies, his mindset, I don't think anyone knows until the summer.

-- Influence on Eminger trade?

Jacques had a list of players in their war room setup, guys they thought might be available and might be able to help us. I gave my input on guys I knew, coached in the past or just known. I won a national championship with Steve Eminger and Gregory Campbell in Canada, so I obviously gave Jacques a good character reference. I obviously haven't seen much of Steve play professionally so we had to rely on Jacques' scouting reports and our pro scouts to what he's done lately.

-- Meet with Nick Boynton?

I met with him today and we had a good meeting. Every thing is back to normal. He's back practicing with us. We have seven defensemen now so we'll make a decision in the morning on who will play. I think we're back where we were. Both of us had a cooling off period so it's business as usual.

-- Here is the press release from the Tampa Bay Lightning regarding Noah Welch/Steve Eminger:

TAMPA BAYThe Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired defenseman Noah Welch and a third-round draft choice in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Steve Eminger, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.

“In acquiring Noah Welch today, we added talent and potential on our blue line,” said Lawton in making the announcement. “Noah is an intelligent puck mover who skates well and has good size and strength. We are confident that with added playing time he will help our team continue to improve.

“I’d like to thank Steve for working hard toward the team’s goals and for his service to the Lightning. Again, we believe we have positioned ourselves to be better over the long term.”

Welch, 6 foot 4 and 218 pounds, has played in a career high 23 games with the Panthers this season, recording a goal and two points.  He has played in 56 career NHL games with Florida and the Pittsburgh Penguins, recording four goals and nine points with an even rating.

A native of Brighton, Massachusetts, Welch has played in seven games with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, this season, recording three assists.  He has played in 122 career AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Rochester, recording 16 goals and 59 points.  He is also a veteran of 17 career Calder Cup Playoff games, tallying a goal and three points.  During 2005-06 he led all W-B/Scranton defensemen with nine goals and was second in assists with 20.  He was also named as a starter to the 2006 AHL All-Star Game.

Welch played collegiate hockey at Harvard from 2001-05, recording 23 goals and 76 points in 129 career games with the Crimson.  He graduated as Harvard’s all-time leader in penalty minutes with 131.  In 2004-05 he was named a First Team All-American by ACHA and was named First Team All-ECAC following his senior season.  He was also named the region’s top defenseman by New England Hockey Writers.  He was also a Second Team All-American , First Team All-Ivy League and Second Team All-ECAC during the 2002-03 season.

The 26-year-old was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round, 54th overall, at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.  He was traded to Florida by the Penguins on February 27, 2007 in exchange for Gary Roberts.