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May 16, 2003

Jacques Lemaire


Q. Jacques, can you talk about your team in general. Obviously, this is disappointing the way it ended. Can you talk about how proud you are, how they battled here with their backs against the wall and all season?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: I felt this game tonight was a great game for the fans. You know, a lot of chances from the both sides, exciting hockey, and, you know, we -- we had a great season, and the guys battled. We went in the playoffs. We were not supposed to win one game, and, you know, we started to build confidence by winning that first game and believed maybe that we can win two and three and four, and we did that for two series, but as soon as we hit this team here, it seems like the breaks were on one side. You can see again tonight the two goals. It's a great sign of a team when you get breaks like that. It's a great sign. For the first two series, I said it's our year, you know, the way things were going, because we got breaks and so on, but I have to say it's their year too because they have the breaks, and I can't say enough about my players, the way they played all year. Just keep battling, and, you know, it's really hard when you're not scoring. You go through three games not scoring, and then on the fourth game you've got to go in and, you know, work as hard as they did tonight. The only positive thing I see is we scored a goal.

Q. How big a factor do you think fatigue was in this series? You guys played 14 games.

JACQUES LEMAIRE: I could see it and that's the reason why I changed players quite a bit. In every game, I changed two or three players. I thought with the traveling and all the games we played, at times, I could see that they were mentally tired, maybe the third game here, maybe a little more physically tired, but, you know, even I could see that -- I could see the effort that they were trying hard to, you know, play good and do well on the ice.

Q. Jacques, the first goal of the game, do you think maybe, at that point, they were going to perhaps start getting the breaks?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: Exactly. Everyone was really excited, and you know we talked about staying focused on the game and not starting to get our minds somewhere else, you know, maybe think we're going to win it easy or things like that. Stay focused, do what you have to do keep working hard, keep driving at the net. I think we did that. We could have scored and tied at the end there, missed two great chances, Zholtok and Gabby, two of our best scorers. It shows you that, you know, when you're due to win, you win. That's what happens.

Q. Jacques, when you get away and you're at home at Florida, how will you remember this team?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: Well, I look at this team as guys that didn't have experience and they lived through a great deal of experience by going into these playoffs, and, you know, I think they learned a lot. They learned what it's like to play against top players every night and they learned how to play against a top team at their best. In the playoffs, teams are at their best.

End of FastScripts...

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