June 9, 2001
DENVER, COLORADO: Game Seven
Q. Regardless of the outcome tonight, how will you look back at this group? Your players in the dressing room over the course of the season.
COACH HARTLEY: Well, definitely one of the greatest bunch of athletes that I have ever had the chance to coach. But I don't want to start analyzing anything yet. We still have lots of work to do and we are going to have all summer to look at what we did; and what is looking for us in the future. I think -- everyone is focused. The focus today is on the game. I love the approach that my players are showing right now. We are poised. We are confident and also we know what Game 7 means for this organization.
Q. Of the 10,000 people in Hawkesbury, how many do you think are watching the game tonight?
COACH HARTLEY: Maybe only the newborns will not watch, I don't know. (Laughs) lots of phone calls. There's lots of enthusiasm in that city right now, I can tell you this. I have lots of friends and guys that I grew up with; guys that I worked with; guys that I played sports with, I think everyday in the past four, five days I have to empty my voicemail box like pretty often.
Q. Other Game 7s from other Playoff rounds, how does it help you prepare for the ultimate Game 7?
COACH HARTLEY: It's always big because like there's -- you can't explain the feeling of a Game 7. You can't explain the reactions or the preparation for a Game 7 unless you have been part of a Game 7. I think that's pretty special because it is a one shot deal. It's winner take all. There's no tomorrow. It brings the best out of everyone and I think that like you really see the real warriors stepping up.
Q. Everybody healthy, any changes anticipated for tonight?
COACH HARTLEY: No changes and everyone is very healthy. Everyone is pumped. I am sure it's the same thing on the other side.
Q. Regardless of what happens tonight do you think your young players, Danny Hinotes, Nieminens those kids have taken the biggest steps that they could possibly take this year...
COACH HARTLEY: Any time that you start in the NHL I think that game after game, competition is so great that it's a daily learning experience. Especially like you learn throughout the regular season and you can't imagine how much that our young players learned in the Playoffs - to learn around the Blakes, the Roys, the Footes, the Sakics, Bourques, I don't think there are too many other schools than us that can provide like this apprentice ship to our young players.
Q. What qualities qualify Mr. Sakic to be captain of your team?
COACH HARTLEY: Loyalty. When you look at Joe Sakic, he is the ultimate professional. Such a fun guy to work with. He is always open to any suggestions, always come up with good input. It is fun to deal with Joe Sakic because every day there's a fun part of Joe Sakic and there's the pro part of Joe Sakic, the Joe Sakic that wants to compete, the Joe sack that wants to win but also the Joe Sakic that also thinks of what he could do to improve the team spirit that could make another teammate feel better.
Q. Kind of two questions, first, how was last night for you? How did you sleep last night? Also, when you woke up this morning and started thinking about what is at stake tonight for you, players are all different with their answers. I am curious how the last 24 hours went for you?
COACH HARTLEY: Last night was pretty relaxed. I did my own little ritual and then had a good night of sleep. Like I said yesterday, I have worked 14 years of my life to get to this stage and I think that last night like I had maybe a little flash that came to me is that when you believe in your dreams and you trust the quality people that surround you, hey, dreams can become possible. We are just a couple of hours away from first drop of the puck and hey, let's see what happens. I think that it is good. This morning, well, it is business as usual. I am the head coach and it is my job to prepare this hockey club.
Q. How much -- I mean, Ray Bourque got up before Game 6 made, a speech. If you could just talk about I guess what kind of a rallying point Ray Bourque would mean in this Game 7?
COACH HARTLEY: Ray Bourque is such an inspirational leader for us. You look at his career, you live around Ray and it's fun because everything that Ray does, it's business. It's fun business. He is always looking for ways to jump-start this hockey club. He is always in the dressing room like talking to young players and that is great. We all know the story of Ray Bourque so I think that it's no surprise that everyone is pulling for Ray Bourque. Ray Bourque is a great guy and there's nothing more that we would like to win that Cup for Ray.
Q. I was asking about Skoula's improvement in his play in the Final series actually, can you assess that for me and how he matured for you and his progress?
COACH HARTLEY: Like I just said before, every young player it is a great learning experience, like every human being like there's going to be some ups, there's going to be some downs. You learn from those situations. I feel that's where like an honest young man can get better. I think that is the situation with Martin Skoula. He has the privilege to grow in this organization around players like Ray Bourque, Adam Foote, Rob Blake, like on defense as partners and I think that's going to be very valuable not only for Martin but the entire organization.
Q. Both teams have played so inconsistently. What do you think you have learned in the past six games?
COACH HARTLEY: To play consistent tonight. (Laughs). This series has been a real rollercoaster. Basically momentum has been switching; momentum has been none existent. Like teams have come up with great efforts. Teams have been awful at times. So I think that like it just shows that sometimes like this game is a lot more mental than physical at this time of the year, the way you prepare; the way that you react; the way that you adjust is so vital, but I think you can trust me on this one like we are going to see like a real great hockey game tonight. I think that we are in -- we are in a situation to sell our game tonight. Everyone is looking forward to a Game 7, two great organizations, unbelievable players on both teams. You look at the skill levels. You look at the competitors on both sides, and I think that there's no better way to sell the hockey game -- the game of hockey tonight than by putting like those two great hockey teams on the same ice and let's battle it out and may the best team win.
End of FastScripts....