New Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff talked with media today on a conference call. here is a transcript of the highlights:
What chose you to take a one-year contract?
"The main reason for accepting the one-year deal was I thought Pittsburgh was the best fit for me, the best chance at the Stanley Cup. With the salary cap issues for Pittsburgh this year, it was not possible to get a higher number. That was their best number for me. So I decided to go with it. For me, it keeps the option open for later to either re-sign [if] it hopefully works out well. The term wasn’t the biggest point for me going into this free agency."
On having other offers:
"I had a few others I was thinking about but when Pittsburgh came up, it was really my preference."
On playing with fellow Germans Marcel Goc and Thomas Greiss:
"It’s definitely nice when you know some people We played together in San Jose togehter. Especially Marcel, we’ve played together for quite a while. We know each other very well. It definitely helps when you know somebody on the team. On the other side, it wasn’t a selling point for me or something that all the Germans are on the team. It’s very nice to have."
On being bought out by the Sabres:
"I was really, really surprised when I got the news Sunday afternoon. I had thought I would probably get traded this summer. Obviously the new rules in the [collective bargaining agreement] with the penalty [a team] would receive if a player retires early out of his contract scared off Buffalo and they decided to just make the contract go away. It was definitively a surprise to me. I was very disappointed last season and frustrated most of the time, I’m happy for a new start."
How well do you know new head coach Mike Johnston's system?
"I don’t know much about his system yet but I’m sure I’ll talk to him the next little while. For me, definitely a puck possession game is huge. I’m a player that likes to move the puck, get the puck to the forwards quick and try to be involved in the offense to. It would definitely fit my style of play."
The importance of playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin:
"When you have [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin on the team, it’s pretty obvious you have two of the top players in the game. Especially at the center position, it’s huge to have two guys like that in the lineup. The supporting cast is very good too. The defense still looks good too. I think all-around, we have a good lineup. Pittsburgh is one of the teams that is mentioned when you talk about teams that have a chance to win the Cup. That’s what I found here."
Given the turnover on the roster, do you expect the team to take a step back?
"No, I don’t think so. It’s not really a big concern for me. It’s obviously a fresh start for everybody. A new [general manager], a new coach, a few new faces on the roster. I’m sure everybody going to be pretty excited about the fresh start. There’s not really any concern for me with all the new changes."
How did you hear about the buyout?
"I was at my home in Germany. It was just before 1 [p.m.] my time so it was really early for my agent. Almost [7 a.m.] his time when I saw his number on my cell phone. I thought right away, this must be something important when he calls me that early. My initial shot was that I might have been traded. It was different news. I don’t think I have to do anything special for motivation. I’m just really excited to get going, to be on a team that has a chance to compete this year. That is motivation enough for me."
With Kris Letang and Paul Martin on the roster, are you concerned about getting enough power-play time:
No, not really. I think the coaches will figure that out. I see myself as an all-around defenseman. The last four or five years, I’ve played a lot of minutes. I can play in every situation. I don’t really see myself as a power-play specialist. We’ll see how it plays out with the minutes. I’m just excited to be on a contender. I work really hard for my minutes and will try to earn them."
(Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)