Wednesday afternoon Roadrunners Head Coach Jay Varady participated in a media availability with Tucson newspaper outlets and television stations. The full conversation can be found below.
Brett Fera, Arizona Daily Star: How are you and how is the family holding up so far?
“We’re good. We’re making it through like everyone else. We’re just trying to find a little routine in our day. As coaches, we find ourselves on these days in the summer. Perhaps a little different than others, we go into a pattern that we’ve assumed in the offseason. It’s get up, workout, try to get some hockey in, watch some hockey, try and get better and regroup when the work day is done with some family time. That’s been our routine here at the house. We break off into different rooms, do our own thing for a little bit, and then reconvene.”
Brett Fera, Arizona Daily Star: Do I recall that you have members of your family in the healthcare industry? And if so, how’s this situation been for them and your household?
“Well first off the first responders and the healthcare industry, those guys are doing amazing jobs right now. They’re fearless in terms of how they go about their business. We’re seeing examples of it everyday when you turn on the news.
In our particular situation, in our household is that my wife still goes into the office at the hospital but she’s been able to handle mostly everything with video or calls.”
Damien Alameda, Tucson News Now (KOLD): What were the first 24 hours like when the news came down that the season was suspended?
“This is year 19 of coaching for me and I remember after the game I walked out with Zac Bierk, our goaltending coach, and we just kind of looked at each other. We didn’t know what to say or what to do. So we had a piece of pizza and we just sat there and stared at each other. He was headed on a plane back home after the game regardless and it was just unknown. We were going into an unknown time and we didn’t know what was going to happen with the league. It was a pretty empty feeling.”
David Kelly, KVOA – News 4 Tucson: What business are you handling now? Are you scouting, are you looking at tape? What hockey business are you doing at this moment?
“A little bit of everything. A little bit of research, a little bit of looking back into our own games, a little bit of looking ahead at some guys that could be coming in in the future, all of the above. You find ways to fill the day. We have ideas and programs and try to get better. In talking to our players, that’s kind of the encouragement right now, for them to find something that they didn’t do before. We want them to get better at whatever it may be. There’s always something, there’s a book, there’s a piece of information, there’s a nugget of an idea somewhere. Maybe it’s talking to other coaches that may be able to help implement something to help the group.”
Damien Alameda, Tucson News Now (KOLD): How have you taken that advice, in terms of doing something or seeing something that you maybe hadn’t before?
“I can’t give out all my state secrets, but there are things individually that I want to get better at and this is time to explore some of those things. For me, it’s been a lot of talking to coaches from others sports. That’s been my mission since I’ve been home. It’s been finding other coaches that have done things, whether it be football, basketball, soccer and finding a way for us to implement that into our daily approach.”
Brett Fera, Arizona Daily Star: What coaches have you reached out to? Who has provided the tips and wisdom? Folks you’ve known in your career? New? What levels?
“Different levels, all across the board. I talked to a high school football coach that’s coached for 50 years, over five generations of coaching with lots of different success stories. It was enlightening. He’s sitting around, he’s a little bored because he’s on lockdown and he doesn’t have much to do, so we had a good talk. There’s a high school basketball coach here in Everett too that has had some new ideas that he’s been trying with his team and we were able to sit down and talk about them as well. Those are good people and there have been others from different leagues and teams that I’ve had some good conversations with.”
David Kelly, News 4 Tucson – KVOA: In the event of a restart, how quickly could your guys be ready? Hockey is so different, especially with guys not being able to be on the ice right now.
“I don’t know what the answer to that is. Someone is going to tell us how long we have to be ready [laughs]. It’s like the schedule. They tell you to go to San Diego and you get on the plane and go to San Diego and play. If we go back to play, someone’s going to tell us “you have two weeks to play” and then we go. It’s not like a summer training program where you can advise the guys to get on the ice two weeks earlier. I think it’s going to be more of a “this is how this how it’s going to work”, then we’re going to all look at each other and go “okay, here we go!”
Jason Barr, KGUN9: Are you optimistic that the season could be restarted this year? Or is that less of a probability as time goes on at this point?
“You always have to stay optimistic that we’re going to get back to playing. If you don’t stay ready and then if we do start back up, then you’re going to be in trouble. There’s a lot of uncertainty during this time, but by staying in shape, getting a workout in, activating your brain, doing those things, you’re ready for whatever is going to come at us. That’s always been my approach to whatever is happening during the season. Just be ready. Get up, come to the rink, be ready. Something is going to come at you. Right now, it’s no different than that until somebody tells us that it is.”
Jason Barr, KGUN9: Is there some type of path that [restarting the season] can happen? Is it something that we can’t see yet, like a whole bunch of testing kits become available, or maybe you can’t play in front of fans for a little bit? Are there some specifics? Or is it just some hope at this point?
“I don’t know. I think that’s more of a league-level decision and they’re working hard at every level to come up with solutions like that. Whatever those decision are, we’ll jump on board and we’ll go to work.”
Brett Fera, Arizona Daily Star: If for some reason the NHL jumpstarts and the AHL isn’t able to, how do you foresee your role and your players roles evolving in a support mechanism to whatever goes in Glendale and at the NHL level?
“That’s a good question. Right now it’s a lot of unknown but a lot of times when teams go into the playoffs there are AHL players that have to ready if there’s an injury or something that happens throughout the course of the playoff run. I suspect that we would be doing something along those lines.”
Damien Alameda, Tucson News Now (KOLD): What is the communication like with the team these days?
“It’s good. The calls to the players are more of just checking in. They’re all just on their homework plans, so they’re just doing what they can, pending where they are. Some of our guys are still up in snow in Canada. By the time they got home there was still snow on the ground. Over the last few days, in talking to some of the guys that are in warmer climates, they’ve got some bike paths and stuff like that to get some exercise. They’re getting the same information that we’re getting daily and staying upbeat more than anything.”
David Kelly, News 4 Tucson – KVOA: How much do the guys that live up north, near lakes, how much does it happen where they go to skate on frozen bodies of water? Does that really happen a lot?
“I think so. If you go anywhere in Minnesota, in any neighborhood there’s an outdoor rink. This time of year, that’s all kind of gone. There may be some snow on the ground but the rinks have all melted, so I don’t think there’s anyone sneaking out on any outdoor ponds anymore, I don’t think. Don’t quote me on that one though.
Damien Alameda, Tucson News Now (KOLD): You spoke on the communication to your team, but what’s the communication been like with the Coyotes?
“It’s been really good. They check in with the groups, the coaching staff in Tucson is obviously in touch. Our General Manager, Steve Sullivan, has been in touch through the course of all of this, we’re talking every few days. [Arizona Coyotes Head Coach] Rick Tocchet’s been really good as well in terms of talking about things that maybe we can start looking at exploring through this period of time.”
Brett Fera, Arizona Daily Star: Monday it was announced that Hudson Fasching was named the team’s Man of the Year Award Winner, what can you say about his overall development as not only a player, but a leader?
“I think the award is a good indicator of who he is as a person. He’s a good man that takes care of his family, his teammates and the community. I think that’s why he was given the award. How he goes about his business is professional in all aspects and hopefully he can move forward in being the Man of the Year for the entire American Hockey League, I think he’s done a good job in Tucson and also with our team in our locker room.”
Damien Alameda, Tucson News Now (KOLD): What were the initial conversations like with the team after getting the news?
“It was telling them to get home and to be safe, in their Tucson homes, of course, at that point after the game. We knew this thing was going to be happening fast and we were going to need some information. As we got the information we told them we’d pass it along to them and go from there. Our internal communication was to ensure that everyone got the things they needed to make sure their families were safeand able to make good decision.”