05/19/2009 - As seen in the game program
Jim Starr, BEARS Staff Writer
Deano and I sat down and we had a very in depth conversation about his health, life after hockey and much more.
Starr: Deano, I guess the first thing I want to ask is how you feel, are you 100% yet?
Arsene: I feel great! I feel 100%, I've been that way since Christmas. It was one of those situations early in the season that I had a lot of inflammation built up, a little bit of arthritis and stuff like that, but that all got cleared up.
They are being a little cautious with me right now, and they might not play me every game. Woody doesn't want me to play 3 games in 3 nights, that kind of thing ... I feel good enough to play a 3 in 3 but they're being a little cautious. By April I think I will be playing every game.
Starr: I see you're cut on the cheek, how did that happen since all the players have to wear a shield?
Arsene: I was playing in Binghamton and I got a high stick and it forced my shield to be pushed down and it cut my skin. I've been cut more times with a shield than without. (smile) I would rather take a couple cuts from the edge of my shield being shoved into my face, that lose an eye ... that's for sure.
Starr: The whole team hits, and there's at least 10 guys that can put an opponent in the 3rd row, including Bourque, but it's my opinion that you make it a regular part of your game, and for some reason the boards boom a hair louder when you make the hit. What's up with that? (smile)
Arsene: You're correct, I like to make hits as a regular part of my game. I look forward to playing physical. I pride myself on being able to read their play pretty well and when you see an opportunity like a guy coming down your side with his head down, well your eyes light up, you get excited and I know I'm going to be able to get this guy pretty good. I have to play that way to be on top of my game.
Starr: Obviously that makes the player think twice about crossing our blue line. He not only has to try and make a play, but he has to consider the freight train in front of him. (smile)
Arsene: Exactly, if you smack one or two guys coming down your side or through the middle, they're going to think twice about how they're going to receive a pass or get by you. A lot of times guys will dump the puck in our zone instead of bring the puck across our blue line because they know a big hit is waiting for them by somebody. When they do that, it gives us a chance to recover the puck and breakout with a rush in to their zone.
Starr: Why do some guys not deliver crunching blows more often?
Arsene: (chuckle) Well, that's my job, it's not everybody's job to do that. Many guys are skilled players and they score! That's why I don't get a goal every night, I'm concentrating on delivering those crunching blows and quickly sending my forwards out of our zone with the puck. Every player has a different roll or nitch. Mine is to help prevent goals and play physical.
Starr: When it comes to hitting, do you think it's better for a team to have six Arsene's rotating on defense?
Arsene: I think this year we have a really healthy balance on defense, every player has a different roll and group of skills. Guys like Patrick McNeill, Bryan Helmer, Sami Lepisto, guys like that ... they have great puck moving skills and can be playmakers getting the puck out of our zone and even joining the rush into the opponents zone and converting themselves into a forwards roll.
Guys like myself, Greg Amadio, Tyler Sloan, we like to rough it up a little and then get it to guys that specialize in moving the puck towards the other net.
Starr: Let me ask you a little bit about cooking.
Arsene: OK. (laugh)
Starr: You were up on the big screen recently with your "at home" roommate, Andrew Gordon, and you guys were cooking. Was that for charity?
Arsene: All the men in my family cook, so I kind of picked it up and then I began to enjoy it. It's therapeutic and it helps me to take my mind off of any stress. Andrew Gordon asked me to teach him how to cook since he liked what I would make. (smile)
I took him under my wing and we hung out at the grocery store where I showed him what ingredients to buy, special ways to cut things. We jokingly called the lessons "Dinner with Dean." We decided to do a fundraiser together by cooking and we raised $6500 for the area food bank.
Giant Foods was gracious enough to donate hundreds of dollars in food so Gordon and I went out and had a lot of fun with it and the money raised went to a good cause.
Starr: Next time get all the guys involved and have a "Cook Off."
Arsene: (laugh) That's a good idea, I didn't think of that. We have a lot of really good cooks on our team. Greg Amadio is a whiz at cooking, he brings things to practice for the guys to eat. Tyler Sloan and Alexandre Giroux like to cook and are very good, and now Andrew Gordon is too.
Starr: If there was ever a guy who was open minded about everything and willing to learn something new, or improve on what he already knows, it's Andrew Gordon!
Arsene: Yes, he's willing to learn both on and off the ice. He's from the east coast and I'm from the west coast ... so we both like our seafood. (smile)
Starr: How do you think this team looks compared to the 05-06 Calder Cup team?
Arsene: We had a lot of leadership then, a lot of guys with playoff experience.
All the player rolls that were filled in 05-06 are being filled this year too, only by some different players that are equally talented. I think we have a good balance of goaltenders in our rotation too.
Starr: What about the goaltending. Sometimes were hot, sometimes were not, and one thing is for sure; it's really hard to win the CUP when your goalie has a GGA average of 4.00, what adjustments need to be made there?
Arsene: We have had a lot more goalie activity this year than the 05-06 team had. Pretty much Freddy took care of it all, but this season, our goalies are getting hurt, the Capitals goalies are getting hurt, our healthy goalies are being called up, and every combination thereof.
Starr: We need to get our goalies in a set routine, they need to know that they are going to finish the season healthy, and we need to get at least two goalies in a consistent groove.
Arsene: At the same time our penalty kill is close to being last in the league. That doesn't help our goalies. If our goalies are going to have a consistent GGA of 4.00, it means the defensemen and forwards may have hung them out to dry in our own zone.
The whole team has to have that "Come from Behind" attitude and do their jobs. Nobody can be blamed for any given loss. We do it all as a team. Winning is contagious, and once we start winning the whole team works that much harder for each other so we can keep winning.
Very few fans are leaving early, now that we are starting to come from behind and win these games late in the 3rd period. The ones that leave early can listen to the "come backs" in the car on the radio I guess. (Starr & Arsene laugh.)
Starr: This is a crazy thing ... fans talk about the BEARS are bad, sometimes they get a few boo's, I heard one guy yell out "Boring", a handful of fans leaving while we're down 4-2 with 5 minutes to go. For Pete's Sake: The BEARS are in 1st place!
Arsene: (Laugh) I Know! The fans have come to expect excellence and they should because that's what we expect out of ourselves. But you're not going to win all 80 games, guys get run down a little bit and everyone isn't 100% - 100% of the time. The playoffs determine which team can dig down the deepest and win when they have too.
Starr: Some people will say to a player "that's your job" but how many times has a fan gone to work and doesn't feel 100%, and needs to take it a little slower that day. That's normal no matter what your job is.
I had Don Biggs tell me once in an interview that: Yes the fans paid their money and have a right to express their emotions ... but I don't go to their work and shout at them and call them names, so they should let up a little on the yelling at us while we work.
Arsene: Fortunately we have a civilized group of fans here. They let us know when we should be trying harder, but win or loose they still wait after the game to talk to us and get autographs and say nice game if we played well, and better luck next game if we lost. We love our fans here in Hershey!
Starr: People don't realize how you inherited a lot of Hershey's P.R. work early in the season when you weren't playing. If there was a special need group of kids that wanted a tour after the game ... you embraced that responsibility whole-heartedly. On the ice you're checking guys until they start landing back in their bus seats, off the ice you're quite a guy, and when you get a chance to spend some time with kids of all ages and special groups ... your eyes light up and you really enjoy kids.
Arsene: I've always been involved in community events and reading to little kids at grade schools.
Starr: Don't you have to know how to read yourself? lol (and then I ducked)
Arsene: Yes. (laugh) That's why I read to second graders.
We received a lot of positive responses from teachers, parents, and the kids. This is our 3rd year now with the BEARS reading program. We've been to Lebanon, Elizabethtown, Mechanicsburg, Palmyra and so many more grade schools. More and more players are getting involved now too.
I also started a Big Brothers Big Sisters group that will come down to the games. We'll give them some free tickets and a food voucher, and then I will give them a tour of the locker room area after the game. We've done that for 3 years, and I do some hospital visits too. Theirs nothing more special then being able to make a kid in the hospital smile.
Starr: When you retire, do you see yourself coaching, a broadcaster, a cook?
Arsene: I see how much time Woody and Frenchie put into coaching, I think it might be too stressful of a job. Color Commentary is fun. I grew up on a farm back home so that's an option for me too.
Starr: Minker told me that when you two are roommates on the road ... YOU SNORE!
Arsene: That is accurate (smile), but on the other hand Minker talks and moans in his sleep. He warned me about it, but it was pretty scarey the first couple of times.
(Starr and Arsene are doubled over laughing)
Starr: Is he playing hockey in his sleep?
Arsene: I don't know what's going on inside there. He doesn't really scream, he just moans pretty loud ... he's got some issues. (An all in fun Laugh from Deano)