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June 4, 2016

Peter DeBoer

San Jose, California: Game Three

THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.

Q. Pete, Tomas Hertl's status? What have you seen from him in the first two games in the Final?
COACH DeBOER: He's out tonight. Next man up for us. He's arguably been maybe our best player through the first two games. Injuries are no excuse this time of year. We have somebody that will go in for him, will roll out there and be ready to play.

Q. If there's a must game, it's certainly tonight. How do you keep the team from feeling what could be enormous pressure? Anything specific you do?
COACH DeBOER: I think if you've seen our group, they tend to keep each other pretty loose. They're a loose group. They know when to dial in and be ready to play, when to relax.
I don't play a big role in that. You watch them around the rink, you watch their soccer games, you watch how they show up and interact with each other, you wouldn't know that we're in Game3 of the Stanley Cup, the situation we're in. That's a good sign for us.

Q. Talked to Melker Karlsson yesterday. If the opportunity arose that he played in Tomas' spot, if that's the lineup you go with, what do you like about him to be able to come in in Tomas' spot?
COACH DeBOER: We have a couple guys that played in that hole before. Melker has, so has Zubrus, been effective.
The one thing with those two guys is, you got a guy that will hound the puck and work for it. Those two guys pretty much take care of the rest.
I think we've got a lot of options there because of who we're sticking them in with. I think it should be fairly seamless.

Q. The PK has been a success there. What's been clicking there?
COACH DeBOER: Our PK has been a slow build all year. I think we've taken a couple steps forward, a step back. But I think it's been really good at the right times this year, especially in the playoffs.
It's important you win the special teams battle. There really hasn't been a special teams battle yet in this series. But you never say never, and you anticipate at some point it will be very important.
I like where both our special teams are at right now.

Q. Can you give us some perspective as to just how important or how historic the first Stanley Cup Final game on home ice for this franchise is, and in particular lifers on your roster like Thornton and Marleau?
COACH DeBOER: It's a great question. That's probably something that we'll reflect on after everything's done. I think in the moment right now, we need to win a game. I can tell you, just being the first year in the area for me, the gravity of winning the Western Conference, I've had people that have been watching the team for 25 years come up to me, tears in their eyes. It was an important moment.
The time to reflect on how important this Stanley Cup game is I think after the season is over. Right now we need to win a game and we're trying to win the Stanley Cup.

Q. Can you say if it's upper or lower for Hertl?

Q. Yesterday when the team got together on their own, are there a lot of guys speaking up, expressing things, or is it just one or two guys?
COACH DeBOER: We have a lot of leadership in our room. It's definitely by committee. I don't think there's any come‑to moments or big speeches. It's just all the right messaging.
You sit outside our dressing room at tough times this year, you hear multiple voices of guys, not just the guys wearing letters. I think that's the strength of our group.

Q. Promises to be a lot of emotion and energy in the building tonight. How important will it be for your group to feed off of that tonight? How much of an advantage will it be for you?
COACH DeBOER: It has to be an advantage. It's been an advantage the entire playoffs for us. I think it was definitely an advantage for Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. We've got to make sure. That's a small piece of it, though. We have to do our part. I know the fans are going to do their part, and we've got to do our part tonight.
I know that's the last question, but I just want to end with a quick thing on Muhammad Ali. Lost a great person. The reason I want to speak about him, I'm not a collector of sports memorabilia, but I have three things in my basement. I have a Wayne Gretzky stick, a Bobby Orr print, a Mike Weir Masters print, and I have a Koran signed by Muhammad Ali.
I wouldn't normally share this with you, but I think considering the circumstances today. I got it 30 years ago. I was at my prom at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton. I was a 17‑year‑old kid. Had my tux on. I was in the lobby. Muhammad Ali walked in with his entourage. He was there for some type of appearance.
I asked one of the entourage if I could meet him with my friends. He said to give him a minute. He came back to me and he said, Muhammad Ali is up in this room. Meet him up in his room in five minutes.
Me and three or four of my buddies went up to the room. He got out a Koran for each of us. He wasn't preaching or trying to convert us, he just personalized each one for us, asked us some questions about what we were doing.
It was an unbelievable life experience for me. I think, considering the circumstances, how this guy transcended not just boxing and sport, but how many people he's touched, it's an appropriate story to tell. I know you guys have the time, too, to listen (laughter).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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