Here are some additional quotes from Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves and junior-to-be Justin Schultz.
Justin Schultz, junior defenseman (Anaheim Ducks, 2008 second round)
On having planned on staying three years
“I kind of knew around halfway through the season I wanted to stay another year. Talking to my family and Coach Eaves and people like that, I made up my mind that I wanted to come back another year, get a little bit bigger and stronger; get myself more ready for that next level.”
On the impact of playing in a title game as a freshman
“I think going to that game my freshman year and losing it, really put a dagger in a bunch of the guys’ hearts. Ever since then, we want to make it back there. I think that’s one of the big reasons I want to come back: I want to win a national championship.”
On trying to win a championship
“I think we’ve got guys in place on this team to do so. I know everyone’s really eager to go, and it’s a long time away, but we’re going to work hard this summer and hopefully be ready to go come gametime this October.”
On talking with the Ducks
“I talked to both the Ducks just kind of said where they were at and what they felt. We talked and they understand my decision. My adviser, he’s there to help me and he wants what’s best for me and understands my decision too. It was a pretty easy decision to make with the Ducks and my adviser.”
Mike Eaves, head coach (UW 1974-78, Minnesota North Stars, Calgary Flames 1978-1986)
On the four-year cycle he likes to shoot for
“When we came in, we first got here, we were trying to establish a culture and it took us four years to get to the championship game and we were fortunate enough to win. We lost 10 guys and you’re starting at a lower level again, trying to build that up. We gave ourselves a chance and four years later, got in the final game.”
On when guys stay
“That makes us pleased in the fact that maybe they’re listening to what’s being said. I know they’re talking to guys like (Blake) Geoffrion, guys that have left and they’re coming back. The fact is, they committed to come to college, to be a student athlete. They don’t necessarily have to graduate. But if they were going to stay for two years, why wouldn’t you go to major junior?”
“A lot of his awards that he won this year are simply based on the fact that he’s a very talented young hockey player with the puck. Great shot, vision, is able to read things. But there’s the other side of the game, the strength – if he’s going to go play against men, can he get bigger and stronger and get that fact in his game so when he goes, he’s closer to being able to be successful? Absolutely he can. He sees that, he’s being honest.”
On what Craig Smith can improve on
“Consistency. We’ve talked about it and he knows that. Because he can be so dominant and then the next night, you’re not sure, he didn’t play at the same level. Of all the things he can improve on, that consistency is the key goal for him.”
On player-coach meetings
“And a lot of times with young people, you’ve heard us talk about being a dutch uncle, you’ve got to tell the truth in a good way. But even the expectations of some young people. This is where you’re going to come in next year, you’re going to be our seventh, eighth guy on defense. You’re going to be our 13th, 14th, 15th forward maybe next year coming back.
“That takes some guys back, but that’s the reality of it. They have to go into the summer knowing that. That’s either going to inspire them, to say, ‘You know what, coach, I’m glad you told me that, because I’m going to show you different. I’m going to do x, y, z.’ Or they say, ‘Coach, I appreciate you being honest, maybe it’s time that I look at doing something else.'”
On the benefits of players speaking with former Badgers during the summer
“But when they talk to a peer or an alumni, they might not even know them that well, but to say they’ll sit down and talk about your path and what did you learn, it carries way more weight even, sometimes than even coming from us.
“But when it’s like an alumni or a guy that’s played that isn’t that far removed from you, it’s almost like your big brother. You’re going to tend to listen to them more than your parents because they’re closer to being on the same page as you.”
On former Badger and current New York Ranger Derek Stepan
“(Rangers head coach John) Tortorella has done a really good job of not overloading him with too much responsibility. He kind of bases it on how is he playing game to game? How much can we give him? We’re going to give him some games where we don’t give him as much because he looks a little tired. He’s done a good job of managing the ice time that he’s given and the responsibilities he’s given to Derek.
“Plus, Derek, as far as being a 20-year-old, he’s pretty mature in terms of his mental and emotional stuff he brings to the rink every day.”
On former Badger and current New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh
“He looks like he belongs. As soon as he got the opportunity [he was ready]. He is physically gifted. He’s a man-child when he was here. We talked about the way he skated, when he’d come by the bench, he was like shot from a cannon.
“He looks comfortable. The pro game is made for Ryan in terms of his physical strengths and his ability to move from point A to point B. But the way he plays, it’s simple, it’s clean, it’s effective. He’s not going to rush it up and down the ice, but you don’t need guys like that all the time. You need guys that are going to stay home, be physical and make that good outlet pass to the forwards.
“That’s why he’s getting the ice time that he has, because he’s very effective in those areas.”
On why the UW women’s team can have consistent success
“It’s interesting, I was told about an article that was in the paper, it asked the question, why can’t the men win like the women? Well, it’s a different playing field. When your ladies are staying for four years and they’re good players, it makes you a good team. But when you’re losing your top-end guys, you’re trying to reload mid-stream and it makes it a lot more difficult.”
On the realities of recruiting
“You’re always adapting. Quite honestly, you’ll take a look for us at the University of Wisconsin, or Minnesota, or North Dakota, there are 15-year-olds, because of major junior are taking a look at that route.
“So you take a look at those kids and you say – first of all, you’ve got to go against the other schools to get those kids. But they’re talented young guys, and what you have to try to do, how many of those do you go after and how many do you get, if you can get them? What [are they] going to be like when they’re 18, 19 and come to school with you? So you’re trying to project all those things.”
“But at the same time, you know you’re not going to get all of them. At the same time, you know some of those guys are going to leave, so we’ve got a couple here right now that are committed, let’s take a look at some of the other boys that we think might be around for four years, and what are the strengths that they have.
“And then you’ve got some other kids that are maybe aren’t even as talented as those kids, but they’re good character kids. Maybe they’re tall, lanky kids that haven’t grown into their bodies yet. Or maybe they’re a small kid that nobody gave a break to, but they have great determination and perseverance.”