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May 27, 2001

Bob Hartley


Q. I'd like to ask you about your thinking about the job that Dan Hinote did last night.

COACH HARTLEY: He did an outstanding job. Danny Hinote is a product of this organization, paid his dues in the minors and showed tremendous progress since the start of the season. Started with a very limited role; took advantage of certain injuries, certain situations, and right now it is pretty safe to say that he is a big part of this hockey club.

Q. Two questions. One: Talk about, if you can, talk about reuniting Ray Bourque and Foote and the job they did on the Devils' No. 1 line. Two: You guys only trailed for about 50 seconds over the last 7, 8 games. Do you feel like getting the lead and the importance of that and if it made Jersey, perhaps change their game plan a little bit?

COACH HARTLEY: First, with the pairing of Ray Bourque and Adam Foote, I think that we have like some very nice options on our blue line, like Ray Bourque, Rob Blake Adam Foote, Jon Klemm, Greg de Vries, Martin Skoula. I think we have a great combination of size, of speed. We also have lots of offensive skills out there. We can generate lots of offense. So, whenever our decision is to, either match Ray and Foootey together or Ray and Rob, or even like Rob and Ray, it is always a situation where we analyze their team, where we feel that each of our three top defensemen can be very valuable to this organization. Like against the St. Louis Blues, we felt that we wanted Adam Foote against Tkachuk. Over here, like for Game 1, we felt that Rob Blake would have more freedom on the offensive side playing with Martin Skoula and not having to worry about Elias, Sykora and Arnott. So it worked for Game 1. And I think that it's a situation that you are going to see that will change throughout the course of this round. With the fact of playing with the lead, I think it is a key part; especially when you are playing teams as deep as the St Louis Blues and the New Jersey Devils, those teams, they are so good protecting leads, like they close down the play, they really frustrate the offensive players very well. So, like the fact that we got the lead certainly helped us last night.

Q. How important was Chris Drury's goal last night both for himself and the team's offensive depth?

COACH HARTLEY: It is always great, once again last night we got obviously a huge game from Joe's line, but also we got contributions from other lines. We are a tough team to beat when you get goals from basically every line. I felt that Messier, Yelle, Podein, did a great job against Arnott when they had to play against them and then we got goals from the three other lines, so like that's huge. Chris Drury, I felt that he skated so well, like skated so well last night. He was a dominant player for us.

Q. Some of the media seem to be wondering still if there is anything wrong with Rob Blake based on last night not skating today?

COACH HARTLEY: Like I said, last night the play got a little bit out of hand in the third period and we all know how Rob Blake likes that part of the game. We just felt -- I saw one his reactions on the bench and I just felt that it was not like the right time to put him out there and to start going after the Devil players. He is such a big part of this hockey club that we need him on the ice and I can assure you, you are going to see plenty of Rob Blake in Game 2.

Q. Can you identify a turning point last night and how you see the game plan for Game 2?

COACH HARTLEY: I think that Patrick's save on John Madden certainly gave us a big boost. Patrick has been outstanding in the Playoffs for us. I believe that at that point it would have made the Game 1-1 and we turn around and we finished the first period real strong and we manage to play with the lead. So key saves early in the game are huge. We have been used to Patrick in the past games; that we can always count on him to give us the big saves. For Game 2, we don't plan to change many things on our side. We know one thing is that I really like the way we are playing. I really like the approach of our players. We are focused. We recognize the situation. We recognize the importance of making sure that we challenge ourselves to find ways to be better. I think that we can play a better game than we did in Game 1.

Q. You already commented on Hinote stepping up but a lot of your guys Nieminen played well, Reinprecht played well, they didn't play like they were intimidated with Stanley Cup at all?

COACH HARTLEY: I really think that the leadership in our locker room is playing a major factor in making sure that our young players understand that we are in the Stanley Cup Finals, but also that it is still the same game as we played all year. Obviously the Cup is at stake, but we have the approach that we want to play it one game at a time to really challenge ourselves, to bring that one big game and then the next day we refocus, we refuel, we make adjustments and we move on. Whether we win or we lose, like the next game is the big one and I think that definitely our young players deserve tons of credit because like they are giving us lots of energy. You see that they are not tight. They are very loose and I think that like I said, like credit has to go to our veterans because they do a great job in the locker room.

Q. Stevens was on the ice for both Joe's goals last night. It was minus 3 overall. First of all, how often do you see that minus 3 out of him and what does it mean to you that he might want to redeem himself in Game 2?

COACH HARTLEY: Look at the goals that we scored, they were perfect shots. Whether it was Stevens on the ice or whoever, Martin Brodeur had no chances on any goals, plus whoever was on the ice obviously collected the minuses. So I think that out execution was very good and like I said, now we have to challenge ourselves to find ways to be better in Game 2.

Q. Why do you think that Joe Sakic has been able to do such a good job of blocking out the talk of his uncertainty with the future and things like that, stepping up when Forsberg is out?

COACH HARTLEY: He is a professional. Joe Sakic is a very simple man, loves to play this game and certainly you know, like Joe Sakic is not the loudest guy around the locker room, but he brings his performances on the ice and that's where it counts. It is certainly a great privilege for us to have him around because he is an fun guy to deal with. He is always open to suggestions. He is always open to give us some feedback. He is great with the kids in this organization. Like I said, he is a very simple man and he is probably one of the easiest players that I have ever had the pleasure to coach.

Q. Skoula had a pretty good game last night. Could you comment about him?

COACH HARTLEY: Martin skated very well. I think that every time that he is out there, if he is skating he becomes very effective. He is very creative with the puck. Can find open ice, has great vision. His first pass is always on our forwards's sticks. So whenever he is skating he is at the top of his game and that's exactly what we got from him last night.

Q. You talked about credit. You credit this guy, that guy, how do you feel about the credit you get or do not get?

COACH HARTLEY: Hey, like I am not paid to get credit. I am paid to make sure that athletes perform and I feel very fortunate. I have great bunch of athletes. I have said this before to the local media, those guys, they want to play. We have some great individuals, like we all know about having great athletes, great players, but once you get in the locker room there is many things that goes on that people around hockey can't see or can't hear about. But I can tell you as a coach, I am very privileged. I have a great bunch of guys. They want to perform. They want to win. They bought into our system. And that is probably the reason why we are here. Like we are a great team. I think in these days, coaching, you know, is something where you have to learn to adjust, where you have to learn to adapt, and you have to be able to listen to other people because like they are the performers, and they are the ones that will make it happen.

End of FastScripts....

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