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June 1, 2000

Ken Hitchcock


Q. So much was made of the Sykora/Arnott/ Elias line in their performance in Game 1. Your top line came out really well. How do you think they played tonight? Did they respond like you wanted them to?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I thought that line was a little better. We are still not as energized as we'd like to be, but with the travel that is going to go on now we should get better and better. We sleep good on the planes. I think from our standpoint, Modano -- they had a specific job to do, and they got it done.

Q. Talk about Brett Hull, what he has meant to your team since coming over from St. Louis, obviously last year the Cup clincher, what he did tonight?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think Hully deserves a lot of credit. It is tough when you are an older player, when you talk to some of the older players in the League that played when it was a little more wide open. It is a difficult decision that you have to make in your career when you know that the game is so closed off now. There's not a lot of open space, it is more -- rather than look for it, you have got to be able to go out and fight for your space. Hully is prepared to do that now. He is a committed guy. He's committed to this team. He's committed to the organization. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for changing because it is hard. It is really hard when there is no open ice out there and things are closed off. The games are a lot more physical. He deserves an awful lot of credit.

Q. Eddie obviously, big effort. Walk us through his health and medication situation and how he was feeling -- all the rest of it.

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think a lot of people have made a big deal of this. Ed's problem didn't start when he came to New Jersey. Ed was not well in Game 7, and we mustered it through, and we were even thinking of just leaving him back in Dallas. But because of the situation interview-wise here, Ed had to come in. But Ed has not been well. He felt a lot better this morning. And like I said at the interview before the -- or after the pre-game skate, he just gave me the one-word answer "good" and he felt a lot better. I think that anybody that knows what it's like to play goal understands that if you don't have energy and you are a step late, that you are going to get scored on. He was a step late in the first game, but he was much more energized today.

Q. You talked about the lack of space out there, and is that not in fact the kind of game that you had to play tonight?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think what we had to do was decide we were either going to -- they have got a great team. I am not taking anything away. They have got more speed than a lot of teams in the National Hockey League, but we will decide whether we were going to get after the speed and negate it or back off and hope for -- we just decided today: Heck with it. We are going to have to play Dallas Stars hockey. That means we're going to have to pound the hell a lot out of the puck. We are going to have to get after people. That is the way we are going to have to play to win. This is a big win for this team. Our team is that -- well is getting a little full of energy right now. This is a huge win for us. We have got our building, we are supplying, revved up in that building. Hopefully we can get going.

Q. You talked about how the team always seems to let down at the wrong times. Converse is they always seem to come up at the right times. Can you talk about the quality?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think the biggest thing that I noticed with our team is our fierce pride. When you go through the things that we have gone through for three years, you build a foundation. And you look at teams that have won for a long time, they seem to have a fierce pride about being embarrassed, and they respond and they consider a loss, whether it is 7-3 or 2-1 to be embarrassment. They usually come back with their best effort. And I thought our effort got better and better and better as the game went on today. We are a very proud organization, and we have accomplished a lot in the last three years, but there is a factor with some of those older leaders that they just don't want to go away quietly. You got people like Carbonneau and Muller and Keane, they just -- they don't want to go away quietly.

Q. Seemed like maybe about halfway through the second period you started to get up to about the speed of this series. Did you get that sense? Is it a faster series than the Colorado series?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I don't -- if we got up to the speed or we slowed it down. I don't know which, we did it. What we did more than anything was that we got mentally up to it. I think the physical side came with the mental side. It is just that -- when you are playing this team, things move so quickly, and they are one of the best teams in the League that changes the point of attack. You have to be prepared to recover quickly. I thought that we did a better job recovering quickly, defensively and it gave us more opportunities offensively because we just got caught in the middle of know where in the first game. We were coming in; they were going out and today we were more with it. We acted better as a group of five on the ice. We were tighter. And I think that we created some turnovers because of it.

Q. To clear it up for me, you talked about -- I think you said you thought about sending him back to Dallas, meaning Belfour?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, we thought about leaving him in Dallas.

Q. You would play with the other goalie?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, no, just bring him in at a later time. He didn't-- he was not great on Saturday. He felt very poorly on Sunday when we were coming, and so we just decided well come on, we will see how you feel. He just didn't get any better. We felt we could get away with it but we didn't.

Q. Back to Hull last year he had a heroic performance in the Playoffs playing through the injuries he had. He was so patched up. The Conne Smythe run that he is on now have a lot to do with the fact that he's a lot healthier and he has got this abdominal thing he has been nursing?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think that is ongoing with Brett and probably the decision between him and the doctors at the end of the year for surgery that will be determined and I think a lot of it is -- will end up being Hull's call whether he wants to get that done at the end of the year or not. But he is so focused on making a change from the way things were in the regular season, it was very difficult regular season for Brett Hull. Everything that seemed to go wrong I think he was on the ice for 11 or 12 empty net goals against. Very difficult season for Hully. But he's just made so many believers of all of us in the Playoffs. It is great to see.

Q. Talk about how positionally sound the defense seemed to be tonight and moving the puck out, especially, there wasn't a lot of running around?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Key for us was that we stopped being intimidated by their pressure. We were more patient with the puck. We made better decisions with it. And we just -- we felt we could play. We felt we could play with this team. Like I said, they are a big-time opponent that we have not faced this type of ongoing assault, but we got used to it. We feel good about ourselves today.

End of FastScripts…

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