CHN Staff Report
PHILADELPHIA Minnesota junior Ryan Potulny, whose 38 goals this season is the most in NCAA Division I since Todd White scored 38 for Clarkson in 1996-97, signed an NHL contract with the Philadelphia Flyers last week. Potulny was drafted in the third round by Philadelphia in 2003.
The Gophers were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, by Holy Cross, which was Minnesota's third straight loss.
Potulny is currently working out with the Flyers, and awaiting an opportunity to get into a game.
CHN: Was it a tough decision, signing with Philadelphia and leaving Minnesota?
Potulny: It's easy, but it was hard. I had great friendships there. The university was so good to me. But it's every kid's dream to play in the NHL. ... (Minnesota coach Don Lucia) was behind me, that helped a little too. And coach Guentzel pulled me aside after one of our team meetings and said the same thing to me. So it doesn't make it any easier to leave there, but it was nice that they were there for me.
CHN: I read somewhere that your brother (Grant, former Gopher, who plays for Binghamton in the AHL) encouraged you to stay. Any truth to that?
Potulny: Not at all. He said the ultimate decision's up to me, but the opportunity I got to come here is a pretty good opportunity.
CHN: So what happened against Holy Cross? Can it be explained?
Potulny: I wish I knew. It was one of those games where there wasn't really any flow. And the next thing you know it was overtime and the game's over.
CHN: How much of it was them?
Potulny: They played great, I give them a ton of credit. They knew what they wanted to do and they executed it.
CHN: You guys scored seven goals against St. Cloud and Bobby Goepfert, what did you find so difficult against those guys?
Potulny: I think it was they didn't want to get the game flowing, just chipped it out of their zone. And we like to play with flow, and play a team that's skilled and move the puck, and give us a chance to use our skill. But it didn't happen.
CHN: There's that conventional wisdom out there that Minnesota had too many star players, and it caused chemistry issues. Was that ever really an issue?
Potulny: The team I was on there was probably one of the better chemistry teams we've had. I know people say there's not enough pucks to go around, but that's not the case in the locker room; everyone's friends and everyone gets along. No one cares who scores a goal, we just want to win games. So that wasn't a factor.
CHN: The other common wisdom is that you go (to the NHL), and Danny (Irmen) goes. Any truth to that?
Potulny: I don't know. I know he'll make the right decision. I know he's ready if he wants to leave. I think he's good enough to play up. But if he wants to stay, that's up to him too.
CHN: You think it's a better idea, if they'll let you play in the NHL you go, but if not, you wait?
Potulny: I think that weighs into the decision-making process some, but either way, he'll be fine. He's a good player. Wherever he is next year, he'll make it work.
CHN: Any idea when he'll make that decision?
Potulny: I don't know. We don't really talk about it much. And even if he did tell me, I couldn't tell you guys (laughing).
CHN: What about some of the other guys? I don't know if the younger guys are ready, but that doesn't necessarily stop them. Is (Phil) Kessel itching all the time to go the NHL?
Potulny: I don't know. As a player, I think he's probably ready, skill-wise. But I think he might need to stay and mature as a person a little bit, which everybody needs. I know I couldn't do it at that age. You go to college and you mature and you're on your own and you learn a lot. I know it helped me, I matured a lot over the years. That's the only factor. But I think skill-wise he'd probably be ready to go. He's pretty magical. He's one of those special players. ... Right away, he had a lot of pressure on him. Everybody expected the world to bow down for him and for him to light it up, and it's hard for him when the pressure is on, where I think in the second half, he relaxed and played hockey and he started to play better. And the numbers he put up were pretty good, but people don't realize that because they expected it of him.
CHN: Were you surprised not being in the top three Hobey finalists?
Potulny: The three players who got it are deserving, so. ... A lot of people have told me they didn't agree with it, but it's good for those guys.
CHN: You want to pick one of those three?
Potulny: I can't. ... Maybe I'm biased, but I think it's going to be a WCHA guy.