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June 7, 1999

Dominik Hasek

Michael Peca

Darcy Regier

Lindy Ruff

Dixon Ward

DALLAS, TEXAS: Practice Day

Q. Dominik, whether it is fair or not, people say that until a player wins the Stanley Cup he is not considered a great player in the NHL. Do you believe that and how much do you want to win the Cup to really be the final piece of your career?

DOMINIK HASEK: That is my only focus last couple of days and it will be my only focus next one or two weeks to do everything to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. I don't really -- what people say, what other people think, it is not most important for me. The most important thing for me is to do everything to win four games in the next couple of days.

Q. Michael, can you talk about playing the role of the underdog and if you guys even feel like you are an underdog going into this series?

MICHAEL PECA: I think we are obviously the underdog. Dallas has proven in the last couple of years they have been a powerhouse. They have won first place in the League last couple of years and they have been pretty successful the last couple of years in the Playoffs as well. We have kind of approached the underdog role it seems the whole Playoffs even last year, but it is a role we are comfortable with starting on the road especially, you know, not having really any pressure on us, and it really helps the guys, I think.

Q. I realize that you don't play Dallas very often, but if you think back to last two years you have had some knockdown drag-out fights against the Stars, there have been brawls, hard checking. Have you developed a mini-rivalry even though you haven't played them a lot?

LINDY RUFF: No, I don't -- I don't think knockdown drag-them-out type of brawls scenarios is what we are going to see. I think there is a little rivalry there. There is a lot at stake right now. I think the will to win in these next two weeks is going to create a lot of excitement for both teams. It is going to be instant rivalry as soon as the puck is dropped.

Q. Lindy, Mike, can you both talk about the layoff. You guys have obviously had been off since Monday. Dallas comes in on a big a roll after the seven-game series; any advantage or disadvantage to that either way?

MICHAEL PECA: I know our line is coming off a roll. We got the only goal in the scrimmage yesterday in practice. So we are feeling pretty good too. (laughter). No, I don't think the layoff has hurt us at all so far in the Playoffs. After Round 1 we had almost two weeks, after Round 2 we had five or six days, same thing again after the Conference Final. But our coaching staff does a great job in spotting us the day off. Then putting us back to work. Really making us work hard throughout it. Helping us realize that there is a lot of work ahead of us.

LINDY RUFF: I think we have approached it the same way we did - Michael mentioned the previous series; worked hard a couple of days, took a day off, tried to work extremely hard for a couple more days and prepare ourselves. We realize going into the break we had won three straight games and it played very well, put a lot of energy; a lot of emotion into it. A couple of days of rest I think is what the players need and this time of the year I don't think you have to worry about conditioning or falling a step behind because there is too much at stake.

Q. Lindy and Michael, I noticed you worked on faceoffs today. Can the two of you can comment on the importance, the role you feel faceoffs will play in this series especially with a number of Stars that are leading the League in faceoff percentage?

LINDY RUFF: I guess I will start off. I think Dallas does have two or three premier faceoff guys in the League. I think the one thing they are very good at is cheating on faceoffs and I think we have got to be aware of that. I think sometimes they don't get their stick down and I am going to let our centerman know that we don't want to go into faceoff situations with them having the advantage. We want both players to have the sticks down. We have looked at the way they have won faceoffs. They got Brian Skrudland who I know very well. He cheats with the best of them and he has been playing for 20-plus years so he has got a lot of experience behind him. They have got some great experience with Carbonneau and himself and Modano and Nieuwendyk, so, obviously it is a big issue for us.

MICHAEL PECA: They have got a lot of experience cheating on the faceoffs like Lindy says, our guys go in and we put our sticks down and have our feet in the right spot. We just got to make sure that we are either cheating a little bit of ourselves or making the linemen aware of our guys.

Q. Dixon Ward, there has been a perception in some regards here that the seven-game game Colorado Dallas series was about as good as it gets and this is almost anticlimactic. Would you give your thoughts on that opinion?

DIXON WARD: Whatever people think, doesn't matter to us, I don't think. We have said all along we really don't care what goes on outside our room. It is not anticlimactic for us whatsoever. We are excited to be here. We have earned the right to play for the Stanley Cup. Nobody has handed us anything. Nobody gave us a free ride. We beat three very good hockey teams to get here, so, this is what it is all about. So whatever peoples' perceptions are of the way things have gone, that is up to them. For us it is an exciting thing that we have worked towards the entire year and for most of us we worked our entire lives to get a chance at this. We are excited and that is all we care about.

Q. Dominik, you think back to your days with the Chicago Blackhawks. How would you describe your relationship with Eddie Belfour and does that play a part in how you motivate yourself for this series and also curious how the three -- the two of you interacted with Tretiak as your goaltender coach?

DOMINIK HASEK: I was together with Eddie Belfour seven years ago in the Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh Penguins, but the people were asking me and I don't even remember such a long time ago and that time Eddie was a starting goalie, I was the backup goalie and you know, our relationship, I mean, it was tough for -- I was fighting for the job and he was the starting goalie. But I don't think our relationship was bad and now when we meet each other in, let's say, during the All-Star games or this occasion, we always say hi to each other, we talk to each other. I respect Eddie Belfour. He was and I believe he still is a great goalie and he is a big part of -- that is why the Dallas Stars are in the Final. But like my focus won't be on Ed Belfour. I don't really care who I play against. Who is the goalie on the other side, my focus will be on the players who can score the goal and who can pass the puck to the players who can score the goal.

Q. Michael, do you come into this series as a team believing that you can rattle Ed Belfour in their net?

MICHAEL PECA: Well, I think you certainly look for any advantage you can get throughout a series. Over the past, whether it was previous to this Playoff year or even parts of this year, he has showed the tendency to kind of get off his game a little bit. He is a very focused, competitive individual, but our team is not looking for anything dirty; it is just looking to get any sort of edge you can and that is getting pucks at the net and the thing we have been doing pretty good is getting to the net and crashing it for rebounds. They do a pretty good job in protecting him. It will be our job to fight through that and get to the net.

Q. Dixon and Michael, earlier today Brett Hull called Jere Lehtinen the best all-around player in hockey. Michael, I am specifically interested in Jere's response to that and playing that line, Modano, Hull and Lehtinen.

MICHAEL PECA: We really haven't been given any assignment yet. To touch on the first thing, Jere Lehtinen is probably one of the best all-around players in this League. I know Jere. I have watched him play. He is a real treat to watch. He rarely makes a mistake throughout a game and plays extremely well all over the ice. If that is a line that we do play against, it will be a tough task. They are a great two-way line and that is what we pride ourselves on so it will be a fun event if that is the matchup.

DIXON WARD: I don't think there is a question who is the best all-around player in hockey is right now. It is Mike Peca. I think the only example I have to use is Lehtinen gets to play with Hull and Modano and Peca has to play with me. So you figure it out. That is about all I have got to say about that.

Q. Michael and Dixon, before Ken Hitchcock said that he doesn't think this is going to be a good made-for-TV series and that if you are looking for Champions on Ice, turn somewhere else. Is that an accurate assessment of the way you think this series is going to go because your teams are to evenly matched?

MICHAEL PECA: I don't know. I think, you know, I think in Round 1 and Round 2 throughout the Playoffs we expected low-scoring games, 1-nothing, 2-nothing, very boring, tight checking hockey games and our team has showed a side in the post season that we showed signs in the regular season, but not very often where we were scoring three, four, five goals a game. I think these two teams are very evenly matched but I still think there is strong possibility that the offense could make the difference. We are obviously very confident in Dominik's ability as they are in Eddie Belfour, but over the Playoffs seems the teams that scoring lots of goals is winning hockey games.

Q. Michael, question for you on a couple of their defensemen. Matvichuk and Hatcher talk about the way they have played and also a little bit on Hatcher. Is he kind of a dirty player in your mind or --

MICHAEL PECA: I won't want to single Derian Hatcher out saying he is dirty. There is maybe 5% of the guys in the League that aren't dirty. Derian Hatcher is just a big mean defenseman and that is something that a lot of teams would love to have and he utilizes his assets. I played a couple years against him in juniors. He played the same way then. He is big, nasty. A lot of times I don't like playing against that but we have got a group of guys that thrive on playing against guys like Derian Hatcher and Richard Matvichuk so it will be a fun time.

Q. Dominik, you only took a few shots today at practice. Very few shots, can you talk about where you are physically and your groin and give us another update, please?

DOMINIK HASEK: Yeah, I felt pretty good, you know, the practice it was -- I prepared for the practice like that, I didn't want to take too many shots, I took it a little bit easy because two days before the game, and I feel pretty good. I feel pretty much the same like I felt in the first round during against Ottawa and second round before Senators -- I mean, against Boston. So I feel good and I feel good today to go tomorrow.

Q. After we put all the idealistic statements aside, do we expect this to be a hard-hitting series?

LINDY RUFF: Go ahead, Dixon.

DIXON WARD: Yeah. (pause) (LAUGHTER). Yeah, obviously that is the only way our team can be successful is to play real physical. That is the way we have built this team. I think over the last few months I think we have really stressed that in our game and we have some big forwards up front that are doing a real good job and the key with our team is our big guys really skate well which allows them to forecheck and get in and get some punishing hits so I think that has been the main reason for our success is guys like Rasmussen and Varada, Primeau, Grosek these guys are big and strong but they also skate very well which allows them to forecheck a lot harder.

Q. Darcey, the Sabres are from a small market and your payroll is not as big as that of Dallas and some of the other teams in the league. Do you feel like you are kind of carrying the banner for small market teams in the League and kind of proving that you can put out a competitive and good team without having to spend $50 million?

DARCY REGIER: Well, I think you can have a good team without spending $50 million. I will say it is becoming increasingly more difficult. With respect to the small market teams, I do believe it has been something that has been gaining momentum as we have gone through the Playoffs that we are and we are being told that we are being recognized by other hockey clubs as a successful small market hockey club so -- and that is okay. I think that is good for our market place. It is good for hockey and, in particular, it is great for a lot of Canadian situations.

Q. Michael and Lindy, there were complaints about ice conditions last series. Mike, can you talk about how the ice was today and do you anticipate there to be a problem?

MICHAEL PECA: I think the ice this afternoon was pretty much what we are going to expect and what we had expected. It starts off pretty good for the first minute or two and then it gets pretty tough to skate on.

LINDY RUFF: Obviously they play on it. I skated on it for practice a little bit; not very hard, so Michael echoes probably the way the ice is going to be. Looks like it is going to hold up for maybe, five, ten minutes and gets pretty slow after that. But both teams are playing on it.

Q. Is that a disadvantage for a team like yours that relies on speed to have the slower --

LINDY RUFF: Obviously it is not going to help us. I think we have had a great transition game throughout the Playoffs. Our speed has been evident. I think the teams we have beat out have even mentioned that we have kind of surprised them with our team speed from our top line down to our so-called fourth line. So it should hinder us a little bit but we have got to adapt it to and to be able to play on it.

Q. Dixon and Michael, since it is first time -- it has been eight days, how have you been able to channel your energy and focus on going to a Stanley Cup Final and make the excitement level --

MICHAEL PECA: I think once it starts; especially after last year learning how to bottle your emotion becomes very important. I try to explain it to people that once it is all over and we have won this and a few days have gone by, I am sure that release will be there where the body lets up a little bit that intensity, the focus and everything will let up a little bit. But right now it is up and it's got to remain up. It is an important time of the year and you got to be there 100% of the time. You can't let up for one second.

DIXON WARD: To be quite honest with you, hasn't been too difficult to just relax and take care of other factors of your life that you have to put on hold come Playoff time when you have some time off you can pay some bills and mow the lawn and whatnot. I think that knowing that we were going to have such a long layoff it was very easy to calm down emotionally after last series and slowly build up 'til we get to this point. Now we get into Dallas; get into the atmosphere over the next couple of days, just have to try to keep your focus and always enjoying yourself and get ready for the game.

Q. Lindy in regards to the lineup, will Peca play against Modano in those two lines matchup and if you can talk about how important or maybe unimportant the line matchups may be in this series and have you decided whether a guy like Rob Ray will play in this series?

LINDY RUFF: Well, as far as matchups, obviously we will go over that tonight in our meeting. But in all likelihood that is a good matchup for Michael. Head to head with Modano and we will see what Ken is going to do about it, whether he wants to try to keep him away or we have to change on the fly to get that matchup. If we have to change on the fly, we find out it is disturbing our flow in the game we might just go with a different matchup. I think we have got four lines that, you know, can do the job. They did the job in the Toronto series. We don't want to take away from how we want to play at the start of the game. But that is a good matchup for us. But they have got a couple of good lines too. As far as the lineup concerns, we are going to approach it game to game. We are completely healthy up front. And healthy on the back end. So there is going to be decisions to make obviously three games in five nights a lot of different things can happen.

Q. The Leafs had Steve Sullivan going at you and trying to rattle you a bit. Now the Stars say they are going to try to do the same. How do you go into a series knowing that is the game plan?

DOMINIK HASEK: You know before the game I don't think about who is going after me or who is not. I don't know who is that player, that kind of player on the Stars team. I know it was Tie Domi and King and Sullivan on the Toronto team. On Dallas I don't even know who is that kind of player, but I am sure I will find out probably tomorrow, you know, sometimes they get under my skin but it takes only a couple of seconds and after that I am back and focused on the game. But it is more job for my defense and my other teammates to take care of these players. Of course, for the ref also. They have to do their job and if somebody slashes me or if he goes around me and give me an elbow, you know, the ref should see and call two minutes for whatever.

Q. Dixon and Lindy, just a question: The Stars have a lot of depth; a lot of people with Stanley Cup rings; a lot of guys who have played in a lot of big games. Your lineup doesn't have that seasoning. Comment on that.

DIXON WARD: I don't know if you need to have a Stanley Cup ring to have seasoning. I think we got some good seasoning in the last couple of rounds. We faced some adversity. We faced some problems and we always seem to find a way to get through it. So if you take it one step at a time and learn from very recent experiences I think that you are not under a big disadvantage. I don't think we are going to be any more uptight or any more nervous going into this series than we were going into the Toronto series because both series are on the road to the Stanley Cup. I don't think experience is going to hurt us in that factor. We have been in some tough spots and we have responded well so we are looking to do the same.

Q. You were asked earlier about Tretiak, I don't think he got a chance to answer it. What was his influence on your career and did he impact your goaltending style at all or how you played?

DOMINIK HASEK: When I was a young kid he was the goalie who played for the Russian National Team and they were at the time the best in the world so of course I admired him. But during the times in Chicago he never really worked with me. He worked more with Eddie Belfour and I cannot say he taught me something because like I say, he spent like one, two weeks in Chicago a year and he worked almost all the time on Eddie Belfour. He was a great goalie, but when he was in Chicago and I was in Chicago, he never spent too much time with me.

FRANK BROWN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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