Pro Hockey | Stuart: "I like our team … in this league you have to learn how to win"

Posted by: Feldman

Rochester native Mark Stuart, a defenseman for the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, is headed to Slovakia to play in the IIHF men's world championships, April 29-May 15, but before departing, he gave reporters in Atlanta his thoughts on his first (partial) season with the Thrashers.

Stuart clearly enjoyed being in Atlanta for the final 23 games of the season, after being traded by the Boston Bruins. He scored one goal in those 23 games, but provided the team with a tremendous defensive defenseman, someone willing to play hard on the penalty kill and a leader in the locker room.

Just 10 days after being traded to the Thrashers, Stuart signed a three-year contract extension worth $5.1 million total, which made it evident that both sides were pleased with the trade from Boston. He has 41 points in 306 career games.

Stuart has been described by Thrashers coaches as "providing momentum-shifting hits" and "having a willingness to drop the gloves to defend his teammates." The Thrashers think so highly of Stuart, that he even wore an "A"  while Toby Enstrommissed time with an injury.


Here is some of what Stuart had to say to the media in Atlanta after the Thrashers season — Stuart's fourth full NHL season — came to an end:

On joining the Thrashers after the trade…

"Coming over, it was exciting and new. It was disappointing that we didn't make a better run at (the postseason). But like I've said since I've been here, I really like our team. I like the makeup of our team. I like the organization. … Some things need to get better, but I think we have the guys. … We know we can be a good team in this league, it's just finding that consistency."

On what needs to change for Atlanta to be a playoff team…

"It's tough to explain, but in this league you have to learn how to win. You saw that in some of the games we were up by a few goals. We don’t know how to win yet. We kind of let teams back into it once in a while. win yet. We kind of let teams back into it once in a while. There was a lot of overtime games — games that we won, but good teams, when they get up, they don’t look back. They bury teams. We haven’t quite learned how to do that yet."

On Atlanta's defensive corps …

""I think it’s one of the best (I’ve seen), really. Nowadays your defensemen have to be offensive. If you look around the league a lot of teams are getting a lot of offense from their defensemen. Buff (Dustin Byfuglien) had 20 goals this year, so I think we have that piece, but I also think we have two-way guys. We have guys that are good defensively and you need some toughness, and I think we have that."

On being named an alternate captain late in the season …


"I was very flattered. Leadership is very important to me. Hopefully I can grow into that role here. I haven’t been in the league a long time but I think I’ve been in it long enough that I can help some of the young guys. Having a letter is very important to me. On an NHL team wearing an "A" is big. I hold a lot of pride in that for sure."

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