Interview of the Week: Peter James

This week’s interview is with Washington Galaxy coach Peter James.

SHL Digest: We’re here today with the first-year coach of the Galaxy, Peter James.  Coach James, thanks for speaking with us.

Peter James

Peter James: Certainly.  Speaking to the press is part of my job.

SHLD: When the Galaxy fired Rodney Reagle after last season, the Galaxy front office seemed to think a new coach would be able to lift the team back into playoff contention.  Obviously, things haven’t unfolded that way.  Do you consider this season a disappointment?

PJ: Well, there are a lot of assumptions in your question.  Let me state for the record that when I was interviewed for this job, I was never told that I was expected to get this team back to the playoffs.  Obviously, the organization would like to contend, but they understand that it’s a time of transition.  Particularly when [G] Roger [Orion] chose not to resign, the goal has been to manage the transition to a younger roster.

SHLD: Well, how would you say that transition is going?

PJ: We’re still in the early stages, but I have a positive feeling about it.  We’re looking for opportunities to give our young players more exposure.  For instance, when Brooksy [LW Charlie Brooks] went down, we took the chance to promote Alan Youngman and see what he could do at this level.  As we go, we’ll look for more such opportunities.

SHLD: For a locker room that was accustomed to the jokey, free-wheeling attitude of Reagle, it must have been an adjustment for them to have a more straitlaced coach like you.  How has that transition gone?

PJ: Overall, I’ve been pleased.  Obviously, it took some time for both sides to get familiar with each other, for me to understand them and for them to understand me and my expectations.  I tried to ease in a bit, knowing that this is a room full of established professionals.  But I made it clear that certain hijinks that might have been tolerated under the old regime wouldn’t be tolerated under me.

SHLD: Can you give an example of something that you don’t tolerate that might have been tolerated before?

PJ: One obvious example had to do with behavior on the road.  Without naming names, some guys take that time as a license to run wild, to stay out all night in bars and clubs.  Some of that is fine – again, these are grown men – but if you’re staying out late enough that it’s affecting you the next day, that’s a problem.  I found that some well-timed morning skates helped get that under control, without having to call anyone out.

SHLD: And has the adjustment gone both ways?  Have you learned things from your players?

PJ: Absolutely.  I’ve definitely learned to be a little less strict than I had been in the minors.  At that level, you’re primarily guiding and developing players.  In the pros, you’re helping established players be their best.  It’s a more collaborative relationship.

SHLD: Obviously, you aren’t going to make the postseason this year.  So what are your goals for the rest of this season, and looking ahead to next year?

PJ: Well, for the rest of this season, we’re going to continue to look for chances to spotlight and evaluate our younger players, as I mentioned.  In the offseason, we’ll probably be looking to move some of our veteran guys, to facilitate that transition to young players.  We’re focused more on a reload than a rebuild, with an eye toward contending in the next couple of seasons.

SHLD: One more question.  Last season, you made headlines around the league when you physically broke up a fight by throwing an opposing player off your bench.  Any chance we’ll see a replay of that incident in DC?

PJ: (chuckles) I certainly hope not.  I don’t go Incredible Hulk very often.  But it doesn’t hurt for other people to know that I can do that if I need to.  You won’t like me when I’m angry.

SHLD: Good to know!  Well, that wraps it up for this interview.  Thanks again, and good luck with the rest of the season!

PJ: You bet!  I appreciate it.

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