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June 19, 1999

Ken Hitchcock


Q. This has been a long journey for you. How do you feel?

KEN HITCHCOCK: I don't know, kind of -- Jimmy, kind of numb. I just, you know, I was thinking about -- I told the players at the start of the game we always ask as coaches that you play for each other and I told the players at the end of the game and into the overtime that we are playing for families and friends past and present, we had some people this year and in the last little while that lost family members; in particular, Guy. It was a pretty emotional situation. For me, I don't know, it just -- this is such a magical team. I mean, I know people get that way when you win and you talk about that. But this is a team that, from Christmas on, pushed its own engine; we didn't push it. They were harder on themselves than we were. We started out and we reached every goal that we set out for. The Presidents Trophy, the Jennings, home-ice advantage, Stanley Cup, it is unbelievable, and I just -- I am so proud of this team and the players and the coaches and I just -- I feel like we answered every bell. We went the distance with every team and we answered every bell. And I don't think you can ask for anything more from a team as a coach.

Q. Considering the fuss that was raised over the winning goal, have you seen the replays of it?

KEN HITCHCOCK: I mean, it is -- some people are going to say he had full possession; some people aren't - whatever. I mean, he scored the goal. I think the story on Brett Hull, when the dust settles, is going to be an incredible story. What this man did to play hockey -- we hit a lot of things and what this man did to go on the ice, what we had to do between periods to get him back on the ice, I mean, he might -- he might be rehabed enough to start the season. He is in tough shape. He has a great three full blown MCL. He has a torn groin. And he has been doing this stuff and he came back and played and he played on one leg and no groins the last three shift. He limped around the ice. The goal he scored, if you watch the shift, he limped into the corner; he limped to the front of the net. I mean --

Q. Which leg?

KEN HITCHCOCK: We are talking the knee, the left knee and both groins are pretty well finished. Tough shape. But you know, that is why we just knew today with the way our team was, I mean, it is the only team I have ever coached where we had to bring a second doctor in to do the things. I am sure Buffalo is the same way, but I don't know where this group would have been if we would have had to play Game 7.

Q. Can you talk about the game, Ed Belfour, he was simply amazing tonight?

KEN HITCHCOCK: This is the same game that we saw in the Edmonton series in Game 4. He just would not allow us to lose. I thought Buffalo outplayed us in the first two periods. I thought they were unbelievable. It was the best I have seen them play and I thought we came back in the third and then we seemed to get stronger in the overtimes. But I thought we were outplayed in the first two periods and Eddie kept us in there. You know, he is an interesting guy because he has changed. He has changed a lot. He has learned a lot of lessons in the last couple of years and he deserves a lot of credit because he made some significant personal changes in the way he dealt with people; in the way he defended himself, he became much more open with his teammates, with the coaches and he became part of a team; not just a goalie. I think that is one of the reasons that he is sitting where he is right now. He became part of the group for, I think, the first time in his life and he has had tremendous success because of it.

Q. Can you just -- obviously Modano was overcome by emotion. Can you talk about his contributions, his injury and what this means to him to win this Cup?

KEN HITCHCOCK: He was in really tough shape at the end; wasn't he? I think Mike always carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sometimes it is unnecessary, but I think he is in a position that he feels he is carrying the torch for the hockey club. He has been here, you know, for a long time. He came and made some significant adjustments in his game that had to be made for us to win. He made a conscious decision. I will never forget at the end of the season after my first year here, we had a meeting and I asked him to think about those changes and he didn't want to make those changes that he had to make. He didn't want to be that type of player. But he thought -- he said he would spend the summer thinking about it. He came back that next year and I remember we went on a road trip and he never scored a point and we won all four games. He was a great player. We went 4 and 0 to start the season and he was sold that he could help us win games without scoring goals all the time. He also found out that he could be a gritty hard player to play against and in the last two games he, for us, was our best player. Joe was our best player throughout Playoffs, no doubt; Joe and Eddie were our best players, but Mo in the last two games when we really needed him he stepped his game up to another level.

Q. You won 3 of your 4 series with overtime goals. That may never happen again --

KEN HITCHCOCK: I never thought about that. It just -- it felt -- you know, today felt -- the feeling after the first overtime, it was -- we were just numb. I think our coaches were numb and our players were numb. I just -- the guys just got tired listening to me so we just kept playing.

Q. How much did losing to Edmonton a couple years ago and all the battles you had with Edmonton push you to this and the other one, were you thinking of anyone back home when you won?

KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, the thing with Edmonton I think that the Edmonton series gave us the humble personality that I think you need to win in this League. I think that the minute you get -- you fall in love with yourself, the minute you get careless with your personality as a team, you get careless on the ice. I think that the Edmonton series taught us that. I think the other thing from a personality standpoint, I think anybody that seen me in Edmonton or anybody that knows me from Edmonton knows my story, and it is pretty well documented. But there is some special feelings for me and the feeling that you know, I lost my father when I was young. He really pushed hard and he gave me an opportunity to do a lot of things and there was a lot of feelings. I talked to my brother and my sister here in the last couple of days and Keith came in for Game 5 and Barb and I had talked everyday. You know, he was watching.

End of FastScripts…

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