May 21, 2002
TORONTO, ONTARIO: Game Three
Q. You and O'Neill were a big factor in the winning goal.
RON FRANCIS: I thought he made a great play in the winning goal in moving the puck up real quick. I have to look at the tape, but it looked like they were trying to change and he did a great job of moving it up and sort of generated everything from there. Like I said, it was very tight. There was not much room up there. With three games now, they have all been 2-1. You just hope that you get the break that gives you the victory.
Q. Talk about the game-winning goal.
RON FRANCIS: I looked up and I think we caught them in the change with them standing still and I thought, well, let me try something. Quite honestly, I lost it and kicked it back up to my skates, and I saw Sami and I went to pass it to him; and I hit the guys stick and it came back to my feet and I tried kicking it to him. Fortunately, O'Neill was there to get the shot. It wasn't exactly picture perfect, but you talk about breaks and needing them at this time of year and this was one for us.
Q. You guys seem to be getting them in overtime, especially?
RON FRANCIS: Well, let's hope things don't change.
Q. Paul Maurice was talking about you, and in answering a simple question, and by the time he was done, it sounded like he looks up to you as much as anybody looks up to him. What does that say to you?
RON FRANCIS: We have a great relationship. We are both from the same hometown. Really didn't know each other until I got to Carolina. He's the kind of guy that likes to deflect praise to a lot of different guys in our locker room, but certainly, sooner or later, people are going to notice the kind of job he's doing. He's done an excellent job for us all season long and is going to continue to do that in the playoffs.
Q. What about you, you are the unquestioned leader in this room?
RON FRANCIS: Well, for me, it's easy. I've got a lot of great guys around me, like Rod Brind'Amour, Sean Hill, just to name a few quick guys, and all of the young guys are extremely young, good-character guys. There is not a guy that doesn't work hard. They understand what it takes and they come and work hard every night. That's all you can ask.
Q. Do you have to toughen your emotions around here at this time of year? Most players in this franchise have never been this far or this close.
RON FRANCIS: I think we have prepared ourselves well all season long. We've talked right from day one about being able to handle adversity and being able to handle success and maintain that even keel. I think our guys have done an excellent job to this point and I really don't see that changing.
End of FastScripts...