NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 19, 2006
DAVID KEON: Good afternoon everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department. I would like to welcome you to the first of eight Stanley Cup Playoff conference calls being conducted this afternoon.
In this call we are featuring Series A between the Ottawa Senators and the defending Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning. These two teams will open their series on Friday at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CBC and OLN.
With us we have Senator's captain, Daniel Alfredsson, finished the season tied for fourth in league scoring with 43 goals, 60 assists, for 103 points in 77 games played.
And from the Lightning we have leading scorer Brad Richards, who had 23 goals and 68 assists for 91 points playing in all of 82 of Tampa Bay's games.
Thanks to both Daniel and Brad for joining us today. Operator we'll open it up for questions.
Q. First question I will pose to Brad Richards. Obviously you were the Presidents' Trophy winners two years ago, Stanley Cup winners, and now you were fighting and scratching and clawing for a playoff spot. You got that playoff spot. What's different about your club now compared to a couple of years ago, or is there really a lot of difference?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, there is some difference. It's been one of those years. You can just tell. There is a bunch of things, more struggles. We weren't consistent right from the start. I don't know if it's that much of a different team, but everything went right for us that year we won. That's when you win. Stars have got to align sometimes.
This year we had some challenges and we were a little bit inconsistent, but we feel now that finally we got in, we can start over here hopefully and try to do something.
Q. Talk about your season, teamwise anyway, when you went through all those injuries when Chara was out and when Havlat has been out all year, and you lost Redden, and I know I'm missing names here, but tell me how your team was able to pick up the pieces and weather the storm and become the first place team in the east.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: We were struggling a little bit there with all the injuries, which is understandable. But like you said, we got off to a great start after the Olympic break. It kind of gave us a chance to be in position to have a chance to win the conference at the end here. We've got some good goaltenders. Ray Emery has been real consistent for us, which has been a big plus, while Dom's has been injured.
And not only have we been getting guys back, we've been getting better and better. We feel good about ourselves going into the playoffs.
Q. Daniel, if you would expand a little bit about what Ray Emery has really meant to this team coming down the stretch and just the quality of play you guys have gotten from him?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, consistency is the biggest thing. Before the Olympic break he was struggling for a bit, as was the team. That break rejuvenated him. He came in with a lot more energy and he looked refreshed. Knowing that Dom was injured and he was going to get a lot of starts in a row took some pressure off him. He's been gaining confidence through every game he has been playing. He's been real consistent, which has been a surprise because he's a rookie.
Q. If you would, Brad, talk a little bit about your season, in particular, and what do you feel you need to do basically as a leader of this Lightning team?
BRAD RICHARDS: My season followed the pattern of the team. We've had good times and we've had some bad times. That's kind of why the team has gone the way it has. We did salvage the season at the end here and made a run to get in. It's the same thing as usual. I'm used to going through the playoffs a little bit and I'm going to try to bring the same type of thing. A lot of things can happen and we're going to try to keep an even keel and do what we can.
Q. How does it feel to actually be in a position now where you can defend that Stanley Cup after such a long time?
BRAD RICHARDS: It's been a while, so a lot of the Cup talk has left our minds. It's been two years. This is a new team and a lot of different players on different teams and it's going to be a whole different challenge.
We're starting on the road for the first time with this franchise. With these guys, on this team, the last two years we started at home, so that's going to be a new challenge. We've never been the 8th seed, obviously. It's going to be different. We're not going to worry about what happened two years ago. We're just going to worry about our team now.
Q. This question is for both you. Daniel, we'll start with you first. A lot of people thought that you guys were the preseason favorites, obviously, as well as Ray has been playing with Dom's experience not there. That seems to be what people are questioning. But can you remember any time in your time in the NHL where the playoffs seemed to be so wide open where it's almost like any one of the 16 teams has a shot at the cup?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It's going to be a tremendous playoff, like you said. You look at all the matchups. You can't take for granted one team is going to win. The league is so good there are going to be a lot of great games, there are going to be a lot of close games. We expect the same thing in our series with Tampa Bay. They've had a lot of guys that have been through the whole war and gone all the way. We definitely respect their abilities. And even though we are the 1st seed and they are the 8th seed, we think it's going to be a very close series.
Q. What about you Brad? Having gone through this the last time, does it seem like anybody can take this thing? As Daniel said, there seems to be a lot of parity.
BRAD RICHARDS: Yes, there is. Both conferences, all the matchups are like that. Obviously, I mean we really believe in ourselves and we're not worried about what seed we are. We believe, and I'm sure all teams like Edmonton, all through the league, they all believe. It's great to see. It's going to be exciting, not only playing them, but to see what happens.
Q. Your team has a certain window here. You've been a good team for a long time. You have guys who have contracts coming up now. Can you speak to the fact that a good team only gets so long before they can really win something and where are you guys in that progression?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think there isn't such a thing you have to pay your dues or anything. We believe we have a good chance this year and we're going to make the most of it. We're going to enjoy this challenge. We're really excited to be part of the playoffs again, and knowing we're one of the teams that has a good enough team to go all the way. It doesn't matter if we're going to do it not, but we're looking forward to the challenge.
Q. The dynamic of not having Dominik Hasek in there, you're used to having Ray Emery goal, I'm sure, I know you have confidence in him, how does it play out in your room? In a way, can it make you stronger knowing you're winning with a guy that wasn't supposed to be in there? What kind of dynamic does not having Hasek bring to your club?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Optimum would have been to have Dom in there. Management brought him in because of his experience. But he's injured and we're just happy with the way Ray has been playing. I think he's really excited about starting in the playoffs. And he has got to start somewhere. We feel very confident in him, obviously, and he's going be the guy for us.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much guys for your time, Brad and Daniel.
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