Q&A with Coach K

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

The Sun's Steve Macfarlane talks to Mike Keenan:

What's been your best or most pleasant surprise so far?

How passionate the fans in Calgary are about their hockey team.

What's been your biggest disappointment?

Not being more successful in the pre-season outcomes.

What stamp do you want to put on the Flames?

They'll be a hard-working, blue-collared group that competes hard every night.

How closely do you work or intend to work with Darryl Sutter?

I work closely with Darryl. I talk to him pretty much every day.

Is your relationship different from ones you've had with other coaches or GMs in your career?

No. It's been very open and honest in the past and continues to be the same today.

You're known for relying heavily on foot soldiers over the years -- the Stephane Matteau, Greg Gilbert guys. Who here do you see in that way?

If you look at the team, I think you've got to look at Stephane Yelle. Probably Wayne Primeau.

It depends how it shakes out in terms of injuries, but the role-players have to play a big part on any team.

Grant Fuhr played in 79 games in one season for you in St. Louis. Do intend to use Miikka Kiprusoff that much or close to that much?

I don't think he will. It depends. If we really clamp down, the team, defensively and he doesn't get that much work every night, then that extends the opportunity for you to play your goaltender more often. I know the shots against last year were quite high. If we can have an impact in that area, then Kiprusoff would probably be able to play more games.

We've seen Jarome Iginla play some big minutes this pre-season. Do you intend to play him defenceman-type minutes?

He's capable of playing whatever we want him to play.

Chris Pronger began to elevate his game under you to the point of becoming a Norris Trophy and Hart Trophy winner. Do you see Dion Phaneuf capable of that kind of improvement?

Dion has the potential to become a better player if he wants to put his mind to it. It's up to him whether he can move himself into the next grouping. He's got a lot to learn as a young defenceman, as was Chris. It's going to be up to Dion to determine how good he's going to be.

What's the strength of this team?

The strength of the team will be their ability to work together and play together. The team's ability has to be greater than the sum of their individual parts. The synergy of the group has to be good for the team to be really good.

What have you discovered about this team you didn't know coming into the job?

I'm discovering the abilities of the players -- I didn't know the players very well.

Do you firmly believe you have a Stanley Cup contender?

We're going to find out. It's based on, usually, your performance and your health issues.


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