PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Blue Jackets left wing and Pittsburgh-area native Brandon Saad joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Thursday, with his team set to face the Penguins Friday night.
Saad discussed what it’s like coming back to play in his hometown.
“It’s pretty special,” Saad said. “The biggest thing is days like today where you get to practice and head home, get to spend time with my family and get some dinner, and then I think once you’re out there on the ice and playing, it becomes just another game. But, any time you get to see family and friends out there, it’s pretty special.”
It has been a year of transition for Saad, as only a couple weeks after winning his second Stanley Cup with the powerhouse Blackhawks this June, he was dealt to the Blue Jackets, who were among the worst teams in the league last season and started this season with eight consecutive losses.
“It was definitely tough,” Saad said. “The whole experience was something new for me, and then the start kind of just added to it. But, at the same time, a lot of teams go through adversity throughout the season. When it’s the start of the season, it seems to be more magnified, so that was tough, for sure. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of hockey to be played. So, it’s really something you can’t harp upon. You’ve just got to move past it and keep getting better.”
The Blue Jackets’ rough start led to head coach Todd Richards being fired, and a new coach being brought in- the controversial and notoriously adversarial John Tortorella. Saad said Tortorella’s presence has been a boon to the club.
“He’s been great so far,” Saad said. “He’s one of those guys that, as a coach, he cares about his players. He wants guys to get better. He wants to get the most out of his guys. You can see how he kind of turned things around. We still aren’t playing our best, but…I think it’s been getting better every day, the players are improving, and we’re getting better and hungrier, and he’s a big reason for that.”
Saad’s experience could be a big help to the Blue Jackets too, and he’s tried to embrace that aspect of his move to Columbus.
“It’s just a new experience,” Saad said. “In my time in Chicago, I learned a lot, and kind of became my own playing under those guys there, with having Jonathan Toews and guys like Marian Hossa around. My time spent there is really something special and something I got to learn, and now it’s time to kind of spread my wings, I guess you could say, and pass on that knowledge and how to do the right things. It’s a new challenge for me, but it’s something exciting and something I’m really trying to embrace here.”
The interview can be heard here: