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June 8, 2000

Ken Hitchcock


Q. Earlier today you talked about delaying New Jersey's scoring as long as possible. I guess you guys did a pretty good job?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, I think what set it up for us, we played a real good first period; and as the game went on, this is very familiar territory to our team. We went through this whole thing last year, multiple overtimes, classic games at the end. We have been here before.

Q. In your opinion, in your experience, how does a game like this affect the winners, and how does it affect the losers?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think it affects -- I think the -- I don't know about the losers. But I know from our standpoint, from our team's standpoint, we just don't want to drop our level. We feel like we competed at a high level today. We had to. We had no choice. We did it for 60 minutes or more. And we just -- we really felt strongly as an organization and as the players that we owed something to ourselves and we owed something to our fans and our families back in Dallas, and we needed to make amends for the third period in Game 4. I think that we have -- there is some momentum, but the momentum is more that we have been here before. We know this feeling of an endurance test, and we have been here.

Q. It was a classic duel between Belfour and Brodeur. Can you talk a moment just about Belfour's play and how incredible it was tonight?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, Eddie and Martin, I don't think I have seen -- to be honest with you, I don't think I have seen anything better since I have coached in this League, two guys going at it like that. I honestly felt that we were just going to have to take a timeout and play next week or something, because I didn't think anybody was going to score. There was a lot of quality chances on both sides. Both those guys, they are determined -- their determination level is incredible.

Q. Is it because of the change in personnel? What is the difference of coaching this year's Stars team versus last year's?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Last year's team was -- somebody gave me the best analogy. We finished in the middle of June, and then we had to start up a month and a half later and/or two months later and get going again. We were already full at the table. This year, we have tried to make it full, but we haven't been full. We haven't had the hunger at times, and yet we have at times. But we really -- we showed something today with our players that there is a definitive hunger within our group right now that still burns pretty strong.

Q. Did you learn anything new about your group tonight, or did it just reconfirm what you already thought about them?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think it really just confirmed what I thought about this team. I think that there is a fabric that we have learned how to lose together. We have learned how to win together, and we have learned how to stay together. And I think that we stuck together today. I think that we have learned all those lessons, and some of them have been very hard lessons, but we have learned those things. And, you know, there was a point there where you wanted to win so badly, but at the same breath, I am sure Larry feels the same way. You are so proud the way your team competed, how can you feel terrible when it is over one way or another?

Q. With this game playing 56 minutes of overtime, turning around and playing Saturday night, are you now not at the advantage to be obviously energized by your crowd to draw energy from that?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think we have two things to draw from. First of all, we will have Langenbrunner back, and we have two or three forwards that we can -- if there are tired people here -- we have two or three forwards who are -- our fourth line is really interchangeable. We have a couple of energy guys there that can jump in and really help us here, and Langenbrunner coming back will help us too. We have an opportunity here to add some energy into our group which will help. But I just feel like you get to a stage right now where to me, everything is now mental. The physical element to me, for both teams, has now left this series. It is all mental.

Q. Is it hard to believe at all that you have scored three goals in the last three games and eight in this whole series, but still you are two games away from winning the Cup?

COACH HITCHCOCK: It's hard to believe we just scored the goal today, to be honest with you. I don't know, I think that Brodeur has been their best player the last two games. I thought in the first two periods in Game 4 he is outstanding. He has played great and Eddie, was good early. The first game's a washout with everything that we went through in the other series, but Eddie has been great in this series too. I just think he got -- now you have got a classic goaltender matchup going. You got two teams that are really -- neither one of them have any quit in them at all on any part of it, any player -- I have never seen players give so much as they are giving now. In these last two games both teams are giving everything they have got right now.

Q. Modano has played so well in this series and hasn't been able to score. The top line of Hull, Modano, and Lehtinen -- they have done all the little things that you talk about, they haven't been able to put the puck in the net. Talk about Modano scoring his first goal in the Finals? He didn't score last year?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I just think Mo has been such a good player for us in the last two series that I felt great for him today that he got that tip-in. But I think the unsung hero of our hockey club is Brett Hull. I have never seen Hull play this well since he has been with us, and you are right when you say he is doing all the little things, but he is doing all the gritty little things that I think a lot of people didn't think that he was capable of, and he has done more than his share of the work.

End of FastScripts…

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