Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Insider Interview...Scott Muscutt

The Mudbugs head coach talks about the Brahmas, the Mudbugs season so far and changes in the league.

After Friday’s and Saturday’s losses at home to the Odessa Jackalopes, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are 0-5 at home this season, tying a franchise record set in November of 2002. But after their win in Texas on Sunday, the ‘Bugs are 4-0 away from the CenturyTel Center.

At no time in the more than a decade of play for the team have they won four straight road games to start the season. They are three wins away from tying the longest road winning streak in franchise history: seven straight in the fall of 1997.

I spoke to Mudbugs head coach Scott Muscutt on Sunday evening to get his thoughts on the Brahmas, the Mudbugs season so far and changes in the league.

Here is our conversation.

Q: The Texas Brahmas are a team in transition, and with the difficult task of defending the President’s Cup. What is your feeling on the team at this juncture?

A: They probably have the most potent team on paper, from the players they have returning, the new players that they’ve added – you know, they’ve got the leading rookie scorer and they’re obviously putting themselves right back into a position to go back and repeat.

Q: The Mudbugs have had a tough start to the season at home, but it’s still early in the season. What do you think of where your team is at right now?

A: We had an exceptionally large camp and then we had a couple of players sent to us from the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers. It really put us into a position where we really spent a lot of our time evaluating and you know, I still think we’re working our way through that adjustment period and I think that the teams in the league, I just don’t think that there’s any way you can take any night’s off. We’re 4-0 on the road and we’re 0-5 at home and it just tells you that if you take anything for granted, you’re going to lose that hockey game and that’s what happened with our hockey club.

I don’t think we’re in a bad position but I think we have our work cut out for us just like every team in the league does. I don’t think we’ve played ourselves out of an opportunity to get better and I don’t think we’ve put ourselves in an opportunity to say we can take a night off.

Q: There’s obviously been a change in the make up of the CHL this season. Are you missing teams like the Oklahoma City Blazers this season?

A: Oh, absolutely. I miss everything about the Oklahoma City Blazers. All of our teams, it’s tough to lose those hockey teams because they were all great foundations of our league. You hate to see any team leave. I mean, the expansion teams we have are doing exceptionally well and that’s outstanding but you hate to lose those franchises because in the end, whether you’re winning or whether you’re losing, it really does come down to the more teams in the league and the stronger the league, the more opportunity we have for more fans and more jobs. So, it’s unfortunate to lose any of those teams. For sure, they leave a void but hopefully the league can continue to grow because I believe that to a team, every team in this league is better than they’ve ever been before.

Q: Speaking of expansion teams, the Allen Americans have come in with a really first class organization; a really tough team. What are your feelings about how they’re doing?

A: Well I think that what you have there is a prototypical Billy McDonald hockey team. I know that both coaches over there have done a great job but I think that those teams, like , we’ve played them one time and it was a hard-fought battle and it is just a typical hard-nosed, quick transition hockey team like Billy McDonald always puts together. They’re a fun, exciting team to watch. You know, there’s no doubt about it, whatever Billy may go to, it’s worth the price of admission to watch them because they’ve got, very similar to what the Brahmas are, they’ve got a strong, from top to bottom, hockey team.

Q: A couple of unexpected things happening this season with the resurgence of Amarillo, especially, and even Tulsa. What do you think of how these teams have turned it around versus last season?

A: Amarillo’s always been knocking on the door. They’ve had they’re peaks and they’ve had their valley’s and unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t pan out with the strength and the vision. I think they haven’t always had their opportunities to excel and get those playoff spots but they really have turned it around this year and Brian Pellerin is a great coach and he’s going to do a good job with those guys and I think that if it comes down to it, I think he’ll keep them in a position to do well in the playoffs. I also believe that Tulsa has always been a program that’s had coaching changes and general manager changes and I think that they’ve found a coach that’s been at a minor pro level and had some success and they’re excelling and doing well. They also have some familiar faces that are towing a strong rope for them, so I’m happy for both programs and Tulsa’s in our division so I wish Amarillo all the best (laughing).

Q: The CHL is an ever-evolving league, but this year is really unique in the sense of the quality of players that here, the number of guys that attended higher camps as well as the number of guys being called up already. What is your opinion of the league this season?

A: I absolutely – I said it a month before the season started; I said I totally believe that hockey in this league will be the best that it’s ever been and I have to tell you, I don’t even think I’m remotely wrong. I think that I’m even surprised how much better the hockey is and I meant what I said – you absolutely cannot take a night off. You can’t take a shift off in this league any more. Goaltending is outstanding; every player, every roster has been bolstered in my opinion, 30%. I think the hockey is 30% better than it’s ever been.
The Mudbugs will try to end their drought at the CenturyTel Center Saturday night in their first game against the Rapid City Rush this season. The Mudbugs were 2-1 against the expansion Rush last season.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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