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January 24, 1999

Ken Hitchcock

Lindy Ruff


Q. Gentlemen, your comments on Wayne's game tonight?

LINDY RUFF: I thought he played well. (Laughter) Obviously, Hitchcock could go on, I don't know what he did, but he got it going.

KEN HITCHCOCK: I heard Lindy was accusing us of trapping today.

LINDY RUFF: I was an eyewitness. I got that on film.

KEN HITCHCOCK: Trapping all right.

Q. Lindy, how does it feel to have lost a game -- an All-Star Game to Ken Hitchcock of all people? (Laughter) ?

LINDY RUFF: Totally embarrassed.

KEN HITCHCOCK: Maybe now you guys can burn that tape of Ground Hog day.

Q. Can you tell me about Wayne's game tonight and what he showed us?

KEN HITCHCOCK: You know, it's funny. It's not just his game. It's, for me, watching him and the professionalism that he exhibits is incredible. Just little things about -- there were some special people that came in through the dressing room and he made sure that every player was in the dressing room area. He pulled guys out of training tables, he pulled guys out of change rooms to make sure that people like Konstantinov and other young kids were greeted by everyone. And just the way, the tug on his time and then his ability to focus, he just -- he needs so few minutes to focus, but he's able to somehow find them and play. He just, he loves the game. And he loves to talk about it. He loves to be around it. He loves the people and the game. When people talk about Jordan being sorely missed, when this guy leaves this game, there's going to be a big hole. He's a big part of what this game's about.

Q. When you have this much talent on an All-Star Game, how do you decide who goes on the power play?

LINDY RUFF: Well, I think I had six forwards upset with me, they didn't get on the power play. Obviously it was a crap shoot. But the starting lineup out there for the first part of the power play and then went with the three of the nine next best and they're all in the same category. It's pretty tough to decide. Obviously we're the more disciplined team. They didn't get a power play. (Laughter)

Q. What would you have done if Belfour had to sit for five, Luther?

KEN HITCHCOCK: We have a guy in Kalamazoo named Turko and a guy in /TURBG named Fernandez. Jim and I were talking about, A, he hasn't had the best record at relieving. Jim's first question was can he hold us down because we're going to continue to open it up a little bit. But it was -- you know, I think just this game, I was on the other side last year. I thought this game was even better than last year's game from the competitive standpoint. I think that -- I think this format has real merit if they stick with it. It's too bad we couldn't send some of them to Europe and at least let them have a home game.

Q. Hitch, what made you put Theoren and Recchi with Gretzky? Why is that a combination that you wanted?

KEN HITCHCOCK: When we were thinking about it, the focus, it wasn't really anything with a great set of wisdom. I saw three smart hockey players. You kind of dream about putting three smart hockey players together, the same thing we did with Amonte, Modano and Kariya, and we just felt like if the line had some type of -- I knew what Lindy and Robbie were going to do because they had a lot of countrymen together. We thought if we can find some type of chemistry, through speed or smarts or strength, these guys might have some fun with it. We had two or three lines that looked real good. They looked like they had a little bit of chemistry and if some of the owners could afford to pay some of the guys, maybe we could put them together or something.

Q. Mr. Ruff, if you could go back and redo this game, anything differently coaching-wise you would have done tonight?

LINDY RUFF: I think I might have trapped. (Laughter) If you're going to get that serious, I would have started trapping right off the bat and loosening it up. I had Robbie install a New Jersey defense, we had both defense going up nice and the forwards backing them up. We would have changed the system maybe a little bit. No, in all seriousness, I think they competed the level they want to compete at in this event and competition-wise, it was pretty good up there. I've seen this upfront, I've been behind the bench, I was never involved in one as a player. I thought at times it was really competitive, really more competitive than I thought.

Q. Earlier, you compared Wayne and Jordan. Do you really think the hole will be as big, and, if so, why?

KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, I believe that with a guy like Gretzky, when you have a person, there's one thing about being a good athlete and then there's another thing about not only being a good athlete but being a part of the fabric of the game. And Wayne Gretzky is part of the fabric of the game; he's not just a good athlete. How you want your kids to behave, how you want adults to act, Gretzky does that stuff. And I think that that's something that's going to be missed. Because, as good a player as he is, he's a better person in my opinion. And I've been around him since '86 and I feel like when you see him operate in this venue where so many people want a piece of him and a part of him and watch him give people time and watch him do little things, he did two things for my kids today. He met them once yesterday and knew both their names, and he did something for them that, you know, that's a special person that does that. That's a unique individual. And those type of people -- this is a business, and it's a winning business. But those type of people mean a big part of the game of hockey. That's what I think is going to be sorely missed. The player's one thing, but the person is more important.

Q. Ken, I was just wondering, I know that players like this format a lot, the international format. Do you think it's fair that something like 70 percent of the players are competing for one set of roster spots and 30 percent are competing for the other set?

KEN HITCHCOCK: Last year, no. This year, yes. (Laughter) You know, to me, you want it to be competitive without injury. I mean, we heard cell phones ringing like crazy when Wendel fell on the boards, coming from upstairs some suite or something. For us, if there's a way to make it competitive, it is competitive right now, like I said, this year's game was better than last year's game in my opinion. If there's a way we can do this, whether it's east, west, whatever, you want the game to be as competitive as it can. It's a showcase of our sport. Whatever way we can do it is great. But the players are into this. I saw it World side and now I saw it North American side. They're having fun with this format so I don't know, why change it?

End of FastScripts....

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