"It was a year that we had to make some changes," he said. "To be honest with you, it’s a better locker room right now than it was in the past. That doesn’t always guarantee results, but it might push us through those tough times throughout the season where we might find ourselves in a little bit of a rut, and instead of seven-eight games where we’re kind of commiserating, we find ourselves lifted after two or three games, or something like that. It’s just a little bit different: a little bit different attitude around here, and we hope that that translates into a good result."
We also asked coach Sigi Schmid about that.
"I think everybody’s coming out to practice and working hard," Schmid said. "You saw practice today: There was good spirit in practice, there’s good intensity. Everybody’s pulling for each other; everybody’s pushing for each other. And that’s the important thing from our team standpoint. But I think that’s a little bit the case of the returning guys are disappointed with the final result last year and how the season ended, so they’re motivated; and the new guys are motivated because they’re new. Some are happy for a change of scenery themselves, and that helps their motivation. And then you’ve got young blood in there, draft picks or young players who are trying to make a true name for themselves in the league, so they’ve raised the level of competition. I think the level of competition has been raised in training on a daily basis because of the personalities that we have in terms of where they’re at in their career."
More from Evans:
"To be honest, it was time. Every couple of years a team is always going to have to go through changes to grow. You get a certain amount of time with a certain group of players, and if you don’t win, you’ve got to change it. Most of the time it’s going to be your star players that you try to change and bring them in with other well-known players around the league. That’s just the nature of the game and the business part of it. It kind of is what it is, and we did lose some big names and some very good players. But I think we’ve also brought in some very good players as well to fill in their shoes and I think the group’s a little bit stronger.
"I think the locker room is extremely important, and like I said, I think it will be better this year than it was last year. Like I said, it doesn’t guarantee results or anything, but you always want to go to a place where you’re comfortable and a place where the guys around you, the spirits are always lifted. We haven’t lost any games yet, so it’s tough to tell if this group is going to stick together or it’s not, but the first judgments coming in – this is my first full training with all the guys – first impressions are it’s a good group of guys and a bunch of hard workers. … It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it might bring us closer in certain situations."