home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 6, 2000

Ken Hitchcock


Q. I say this with all due respect, for you to get up after the game to say "Our heart was ripped out," it sounds as though you are giving up when you say something like that.

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, well, that is not what I meant, but our heart was ripped out. It was. What was ripped out was that our feeling as a team and as an organization was, boy, we played two periods of perfect Dallas Stars hockey. We did a great job. And we ripped our own hearts out. We did things to ourselves in the third period that created a problem. Are we going to be able to recover? Yeah, no problem. We will come back, and we play like hell on Thursday, and I have no doubt about that, just like we did yesterday. But the part what I meant about the heart being ripped out is we have made those mistakes before this year, for whatever reason, and we got away with it. We made those same mistakes in the Colorado series, and we got away with them. We did it to ourselves again yesterday, and that is what ripped us. That is what bothered me more than anything was that we made some critical errors; not what they did to us -- you know, they didn't forecheck the puck back off us. We made some critical puck-support errors that gave them odd-man rushes, and that rips your heart.

Q. So along those lines, talking to the Devils this morning, and of course they were down three games to one (inaudible) -- I asked Scott Stevens about it. He said that -- he wouldn't say it at the time, but now he says they look around the room after they were down three games to one, and he said he could honestly say "We are a better team than they are, and we know we are going to come back." Can you look around the room and have that same feeling?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I do not think we -- we never look like that. We don't really get into that type of stuff. We just draw the bubble tight, we look at our own game. I don't really care how they are going to play. They are going to play well, we know that. I don't really care. What I care about is how we react to what we did to ourselves. These are correctable mistakes that, if we correct them and we stay on the same game plan, we can be very successful and win the next game to bring it back here. Our focus is not winning three games. Our focus is being able to bring this game back to this building to go at it again. That is our only focus. But I think you can say those things like Scott said. They are great things to say. But, believe me, there is a feeling in your stomach when you are down 3-1 or you are facing closure that always sits there. I think that you have to go through that stuff. It is very nerve-wracking. Our issue is different. We did it to ourselves, and those are correctable. And our players, I know our players will step up and correct those mistakes.

Q. Have you ever been down 3-1 in a Playoff situation and come back and won?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, we were down 3-1 twice in junior and down 4-1, and won in those Best of Forevers; and, yeah, we have come back and won. But I think the difference being is that there was a goaltender that was saving the bacon for the other team. In other words, he was making 40, 50 saves. This is different, we are going to have to be at our best to win the next game. That is kind of a different scenario, I should say. We feel like in those games it was just a matter of time before we got the goaltender to crack. That is not the case here.

Q. How did Zuby play last night and in the series?

COACH HITCHCOCK: He has been good. Everybody looks at his point totals and everything, and he makes a lot of little plays. For a hockey person, he makes a lot of little plays that at the end of night when you watch the tape or you watch it the next morning, you just go,. Wow, I mean, how did he see that guy? Or how did he find that guy? There is players like him that -- they are few and far between. He makes great plays. He is not this high-energy, passionate type of player. He is a smart player. It is like, to me, one of the best players on their team has been Malakhov. I mean, he has been terrific. He plays a quiet game just like Zubov does. He has been good.

Q. To follow up on Malakhov, what other things have you learned about the Devils that maybe you didn't know coming in because you rarely see them?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I do not think there is -- what they are doing is not surprising us. When we left the game here in October, November, when we played them, what they are doing is that they are doing the same things they did in November when we played against them. We were really lucky to win the 2-1 overtime game; they outplayed us. What they have is -- they have speed to defend. They have a commitment to defend with speed and size. That is hard to play against. That is the challenge that you have to meet on a daily basis. If you are not prepared to meet that challenge, then cracks develop. What happened yesterday in the third period was their ability to defend, beat us to pucks that we should have got to. They had two goals directly with their ability to get to a loose puck, that normally we thought we should have got to. And they turned it in a scoring chance and scored on it. It is the old adage at this time of year you can have all the offense you want, and you are not going to win. You are going to win with an unbelievable passion to defend, to create your offense. I think that over the course of a 60-minute hockey game, their passion is stronger than ours. That is why they have won games. That is why they have won the last two hockey games, because, by the smallest of margins, whether it is speed or whatever, size or whatever, they have had that ability for more minutes than we have. That is why they have won.

Q. Are you surprised the way all their four rookies have played? Gomez, Madden, Rafalski, and White -- did you know they were -- (inaudible)

COACH HITCHCOCK: Gomez is a legitimate rookie. Rafalski doesn't even have any hair, so he can't be a rookie. What is he? 27? 28? I mean he has played at a League competition better than I or the A (sic). So we can't count him. Plus he doesn't have enough hair to be counted as a rookie. White is a good story. He's a lot like Sim for us. He is 22, 23 years old now. He's learned his trade. They made a good move, obviously, pulling him in and moving Odelein line out. That is a great move. Gomez is, to me, he is doing the same thing that Brenden Morrow is doing; he is surviving. I mean, he's getting lot of coaching on the bench from Larry, and so is Brenden from us. That is what it is about when you are a kid coming out of junior hockey. As far as, you know, Madden, he is an old guy too. He is 27 years old, and Red has taught him well how to kill penalties. Somebody has. He does a great job. He is a perfect example of a mobile defender. When you can put pressure on the puck like he does, and then you can also make people pay for the mistakes, because he can score a little bit, those are always really valuable players. That is the same thing that Lehtinen does for us. You make a mistake with Lehtinen or mistake with Modano when you are on the powerplay, you get careless, you pay for it. We had two just-abouts, 3 killing penalties, and they had the one that hit the home run.

Q. My experience, when winning Stanley Cups, players say they want it, when teams are on the verge of losing it, they start looking around and say the coach isn't doing this, or we have had a long year, we had a short summer, we had a year of adversity, the coach is a pain in the ass -- whatever. Is it difficult in the circumstances to keep it all pulled together?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, as far as the coach being a pain in the ass, that is not going to change. So that is probably there. I think in different scenarios, those things always creep in your mind. But in the end of the day, you know what it really comes down to: Competition, how much you like playing. I think at this time of year when you are down in series and -- it is not so much just the Finals. It is the semis, the quarters, whatever. It really boils down to about coming and saying, look -- how much do you want to keep playing hockey? How much do you really like the guys you are playing with? How much do you like playing hockey? And how much do you want to keep this thing moving along? I think that at the end of the day the coach almost gets removed at this situation, and I don't mean removed as far as, you know, the tactical side of things. We really become more technical and tactical people now. The emotion really sits in your dressing room. It really falls in the -- leadership falls in the character of the captains and the rest of the stuff. The information, the tactical stuff gets provided by us. But I think if you trust your captains and you trust your leadership, it is now our turn to back off a little bit, and it is now that dressing room has to take care of the passionate part of the way it goes. I find that if it is strong in there, which I know how strong it is -- I think everybody knows how strong it is in our room that has been around us for couple years now, then good things happen. You might not win at the end of the day, but you play a helluva game. I don't think anybody can argue that for 43 minutes it was one helluva hockey game. And we made some mistakes that took the energy right out of our own group, but for 43 minutes it was one helluva hockey game.

Q. Are you comfortable with the way that Modano's line, that tactic worked against Gomez --

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, again you look at scoring chances, and they had a lot. The old guy there in the middle did a pretty good job on Arnott; but they didn't score on those chances, so that is unfortunate. They had the quality ones. I think the one thing that we'd like to probably get better at is we seem to have got a little bit frustrated by the score being tied or the game being close. Like sometimes we have tried to hit the home run too early. Like, you know, the game is 1-1 or 2-1 yesterday, I thought we tried to make too many 40-foot passes rather than stay on that short-pass routine. I think that is something that everybody was guilty of trying to hit that home run. I think we'd like to try to avoid that in Game 5.

Q. Can you at all -- (inaudible) supplement for discipline on Hatcher (inaudible)

COACH HITCHCOCK: You mean on the hit? On Arnott?

Q. Yes.

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, I am not worried about that.

Q. What did you think of the hit?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Part of the game.

Q. You mentioned breakdowns, and players mentioned lapses. (inaudible) Are you going to be able to say we defended as well as the Dallas Stars are capable of doing?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, but I think yesterday was a microcosm of our season. I think yesterday -- when the game goes up -- and believe me, when it goes way up, when the game goes up a level, when it is on the line like that, you have to be able to go up to that level as far as defending goes -- not only scoring, but defending. We have been inconsistent in that, and we have to get better in that area. I think that that to me is what has happened. We gave them opportunities; their level went up; ours stayed the same. We have to be able to raise that level. Vice versa, that is the fine line between these two teams. There are some qualities of our team that they'd like to have and there are some qualities of their team that we'd like to have. But at the end of the day, when the level goes up, it is: Who can maintain it and who shows some cracks. In the last two games, as far as I am concerned, we have shown cracks when the level has gone up, and that is unfortunate. That is why the series is at where it is at.

Q. Would you say though, even against Colorado, the chances they had, have you guys -- (inaudible)

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think that the Colorado Game 7 was a little bit different. Our lead was a little bit too big, and we tried to sit on it. Because, to be honest with you, when Bourque shot that, went off two guys and hit the post; was the only opportunity they had in the last nine minutes, and in my opinion. When the game -- or seven or eight minutes. When the game went 3-2, we picked it up and went at the other level. Our problem was that from 3-nothing 'til 3-1 we were a little too loose and the lead was too big.

Q. I meant the whole series, because we were asking those guys how can you miss open nets like that -- (inaudible)

COACH HITCHCOCK: He's probably asking himself that too right now.

Q. You coached against Larry Robinson the past couple of years in L.A. and in this series. Have you noticed any change, any difference in the way he coaches then versus now?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, but I think -- Larry is a helluva coach. He got -- he got a raw deal in L.A. as far as I was concerned. He got a real raw deal there, because his frustration with the way the team was playing, the things that he was talking about, they were right on. And he was trying to get them over a hump mentally, and they would go over and come back, and it was very frustrating. I think when you are a coach that is just used to winning as a player and as a coach -- I mean, he was in Jersey, used to winning. He obviously played for Montreal and L.A. - used to winning - it is frustrating when that is the thing that you are used to and then you can't get the players to get over that hump. I thought his frustration with that affected the way he dealt with the players. And I think what he was saying obviously was true and right, and sometimes it takes a lot of work to get people to buy in. The other thing is that -- the other major influence here is that darn Fetisov, he's got a major influence on those guys in the back end there. Because you see things that Rick talks about with our defensemen. You can see them doing the same things, active sticks, sticks in lanes, little detailed things that take years, years of coaching to get defined. They do a great job with that. You turn 3-on-3 down low situations into odd-man rushes the other way. They do a good job with that.

Q. Colorado had speed also. Why are you having more difficulty coping with Jersey's speed than you could with Colorado?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I think there is a difference, and I said this before. Colorado's speed for us was with the puck. This is speed without the puck. There is a big difference, huge difference.

Q. Talk about matchups -- compared them to St. Louis earlier. You struggled with them. Going on the road, do you worry about the matchups? Do you just roll four lines and just let your team play your game?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, no. We won't do that. I think -- not for New Jersey, but for us -- we have players who need a strong identity to have a bite emotionally in our team, in particular Carbonneau. Whatever we give Guy, we have to give him an identity, so he has a role on our club. If we say: Go score two, three goals, chip in offensively, I think we are being unrealistic. Whatever he adds that way, it is great. But he is best when he has an identity. And so is Keane. We have to find that identity within the framework of the game.

Q. (inaudible) -- first step in coming back is decided whether or not you want to dig deep to come back. Do you think that is still a question of this team, and is that what you think the first step in coming back is?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, that is a big step. But I think also that that is the mental side of things that you are at, at this stage in the season. I think when you get to this stage, it is a lot more mental than it is physical. I think first thing is you have to believe you can come back. I think this team believes they can come back, but I also think that it is no pain, no gain. In other words, you have to be prepared to physically go through anything to get the job done. And I think that is the challenge for those guys. I really believe right now, when you are at this stage, and we have all been here before, we have all faced closure and looked it right in the eye. I think one of the things that I found was that the emotion has to be supplied from within the dressing room; nothing -- you people can write, nothing I can say means a hill of beans. What means is that that group wants continue to play passionately for each other, then that makes the huge difference. But if it isn't there, if it isn't there, then you will be able to see it on the ice. That is why I say I think you will see it on the ice because you know, we feel that this team and this team in particular wants to keep playing hockey.

Q. Can you use another team's experience to help you in that the Devils are trying to protect against blowing (inaudible) can you look at the Devils' last round, say, look it just did happen, we can do the same thing.....

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, I don't believe in doing that stuff. I think if we had our own experience in that case -- I think one thing we can learn from is that we can learn from a couple years ago when we played Detroit where we thought we had them, and they went to another gear. I am sure looking back this is 3-1 and we are the team that has to go to another gear. I think Jersey is pretty -- played pretty much consistently at the same level and it is our responsibility to move it up. And if we are capable of it, we will get it done. We had a lot of great things to build on in the first 40 minutes, a lot of great things, but that is not enough to beat this team not near enough.

Q. How do you start eliminating the chances that they have had? They have outshot you again last night.

COACH HITCHCOCK: Shots on goal for our team are irrelevant. Scoring chances mean everything. I think if we didn't give them the odd-man rushes, I mean, we gave them four, two-on-ones, can't do that. Not against that good a team. They are going to beat you. I think that from that standpoint, if we can eliminate some odd-man rushes - with their size and their tenacity, they are still going to get those front-of-the-net plays and those are going to happen just like they do for us. But I think that if we can eliminate the easy ones, which is what made us very disappointed yesterday, was that we gave the easy ones to them, if we can eliminate those, then we give ourselves a hell of a chance.

Q. How do you sense Modano's play? Can you win without him scoring?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, I think -- I think Mo's situation yesterday was typical of what happens when you have a leadership quality that he has developed, but I think he just attacked it a little bit the wrong way. We'd like to see him make a change. I think what he did yesterday was try to hit the home run in the third period and the game went 2-1 and he was typical of a few of our players, he tried to get the goal back the next shift instead of staying with it. And then it starts to unravel a little bit, then you get too far away from the play. The gap between the forwards and the defensemen gets too big. But Jersey does that to you. Their ability to check and defend frustrate people at times. So we have got to be able to stay with it mentally. That is something that if Mo does that, then I think the scoring chances will take care of themselves. He will get his points, but he has got to stay on the same program as everybody else.

Q. Team has been able to be more patient on the road than at home?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, we have. I think Game 2 was a perfect example of that.

Q. In terms of paying the price, most people would look in that room -- I mean, there is not a guy in that room who doesn't have a bruise, a crack, a cut, a strain, at this stage of the year. Most people would say they are paying the price. That is enough. But you say that is not?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, that is not near enough. No. Afraid not, it is all about getting the job done. It is all about staying with the program. Paying the price is staying with the program. That is paying the price; not free-lancing; not getting outside the system; not trying to hit home runs; not trying to do it by yourself, that is paying the price. There is a physical price that is paid. That is part of it. That is the bumping into people, the contact, those are a small percentage of it. The big percentage is staying with it, that is the challenge. We have cracked -- look, we have played 11 or 12 playoff series in the last two years. We have played 200 something games and we have made a lot of people crack and we forced a lot of people out of their element. We have gotten forced out of our element in this series. And we need to get back and stay in our element for that 60-minute span and see where it goes. We have had success when we have stayed within the element, but when we have gotten drawn out of it and we have cracked a little bit, made those mistakes, boom.

Q. Is it like an evolution of diminishing return on that that you did it last year, you were successful, you made everybody crack on the way to the Final; this year you made other people crack. Does there get to be a point where you say they have to stay with the program, staying with the program is hard and it is difficult and somewhere along the line they start to wear down in -- that is why it is so difficult winning back-to-back?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, that is a good observation. It is a hard way to have to play. I mean, Jersey is a perfect example. They won in 1995 and it is four, five years later they come back to it, obviously their frustration and inability to get it done in previous years has led to a steely interior, exterior that they are pretty determined to get it done now.

Q. A year from now they might not have it.....

COACH HITCHCOCK: You don't know that. Those are the qualities that mesh, that make it work is you got to have those qualities on an ongoing basis. On paper you look at other teams, that are knocked out, you wonder why. That is the intangibles that work within your group that mean the difference.

Q. Seen a lot of teams (inaudible) after the stress psychological phenomenon that takes....(inaudible) ---

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think what happens is you get loose. The pressure of expectations isn't there anymore; there is kind of this looseness to the finality of facing elimination. It is like, well, what the hell, let's go get it. You stop worrying about things. You stop waiting for things and you just go out and get it. The other side of things is you get so loose that you turn it into a 7-5 game which we won't like to do. But you get loose in your personality and I found that eliminating the team is not only difficult, but they give you a push that you never expected. I remember when we eliminated Edmonton this year I have never seen Edmonton play that well. It was best game I had seen them play in three years. You don't expect that from him and it really pushes you, but I think we are going to play a great game.

Q. This team has logged over 200 games last two years, you mentioned about getting that extra gear. How much is left in the tank to get that extra gear?

COACH HITCHCOCK: How about I tell you a week from now. Never know, there is lots of gas stations in Texas.

Q. Do you know anything about the '42 Maple Leafs?

COACH HITCHCOCK: (inaudible) I am not associating anything that way. History is good in some areas, but that is too far away. That is just before you were born there, Barrie. .

Q. Given the numbers of series you played last three, four years, change your appreciation or underscore your appreciation for what the Islanders and Oilers did?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, the Oilers were a unique situation because they could play at 50% and beat most teams and when they had to gear it up they could go to another level. They were so much better than everybody else. The Islanders weren't. The Islanders had a combination of things that were incredible. They had really kind of the ultimate team and that makes you really appreciate -- but even recently it makes you appreciate great teams like Detroit, the grind that the Red Wings -- they won two in a row. They have been challenging for what, six, seven years now, man, it is hard because parity -- I have said this before, what affects you as a champion, it is not one series, it is not one team. It is the cumulative effect of people coming after you. That is what affects you. It is whether you have that resolve in you to keep going and it is like the hammering on our team started on October the 1st. Everybody was pointing at us for a long time. We have responded in it in a terrific way, but we have got one more hurdle to climb; then we get a good rest. We are in a difficult bind right now, but it is not going to affect the way I look at this team any differently.

Q. You mentioned Guy Carbonneau a couple of times today. He said frequently that how he plays in the Playoffs will be a major factor. He is determining whether he is going to come back and try play another year (inaudible) how would you assess the way he has played?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think he is like our team, he's hung in there. He has been at his best when he has had a particular challenge. I think that this hasn't been a series for Guy Carbonneau because we haven't had a lead that I can push him out there every second shift and defend. We have been chasing games so it is not -- I won't say that this series is a series that you would look and say this is Carbonneau's best series because we have needed other elements offensive element that maybe he hasn't been able to provide. Whereas, you look at the Colorado series and it was really critical to get things shut down. He was terrific.

Q. How important is -- I mean, would you like to see him back here next year?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think we'd like to see him play forever. That is always . . We stay out of that. I mean this is really the call between Bob and Guy. They sit down at the end of the year.

End of FastScripts…

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297