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June 24, 1999

Al MacInnis


AL MacINNIS: I don't know what to say. It's certainly a great honor. Being nominated a number of times, you know, finishing second and third obviously to some great hockey players, Ray Bourque and these guys, it's a great honor to finally win one. You know, it's an award that every defenseman coming to the National Hockey League would love to win once. I was very fortunate this year to stay healthy and get the recognition. Obviously, the confidence of the coaching staff, it's just kind of one of those seasons that things kind of fell into place. Just very honored, at this stage in my career, to be able to win such an award.

Q. Would you say this was your best year, though?

AL MacINNIS: It's so hard to say because the game has changed so much, you know. How do you judge a season? Do you judge it by statistics? Obviously, you judge it by individual and team play. The game since I've been in the league has changed so much. Defensemen, at one time you get 100 points. That might never happen again until someone phenomenal comes along, the way teams play defense and goaltending. Not getting away from the question, but it's been a good year. Like I said, I'm very fortunate. It seemed like everything fell into place.

Q. Did you ever say to yourself, "Am I ever going to win this trophy?"

AL MacINNIS: No. I didn't look at it that way. I mean, you look at certain players throughout the league that have been runners-up for other individual awards that just happen to be kind of the wrong time. When Wayne Gretzky was winning all the Hart Trophies, there were other players pretty good in the league, too. Obviously Wayne was the best. Whether it's the Hart Trophy or the Norris, I look at the guys, Ray Bourque, you can build a case for so many guys each year for each award. The last few years, I never thought about it much, until later this year. Obviously the media kept asking me about it. I thought after the years in Calgary that I had, the last few years there, I thought, "We'll just go on and probably won't win it." Like I said, I'm very fortunate.

Q. Did you have any different kind of approach during the off-season? It's rare for someone at your stage in your career to come back like that.

AL MacINNIS: Yeah. You know, there's no question, this is the truth, two years ago I hired a personal trainer by the name of Charles Poglund (phonetic) who is kind of probably the most well-known, unknown strength coaches in North America. He's worked with a number of Olympic athletes. He was actually the guy that got Gary Roberts back in the league. I've been working with him for two years, his programs. Honestly, I've felt better the last couple years than I have in I don't know how many years. Obviously, his programs are very specific to hockey. I just felt great out on the ice. You know, getting lots of ice time, it didn't seem to wear me down. That's been a big part of it, no question. Conditioning, with the length of the season, the traveling, obviously age becoming a factor, no question that this had a big influence on it.

Q. Seems to be the year of the older player. You can point to a lot of examples, Wayne having a good season, you, Dallas being an older team. Do you think this is a season that shows there's still a place for a player who is in his mid-30s?

AL MacINNIS: Well, I think there is. I think the reason older players are probably playing as well as they ever has is guys are probably looking after themselves a lot better, you know. At one time after a game, it was two dozen chicken wings and a few Bud Lights. Things have changed. That's a big part of it. Guys are looking out for themselves better. Training camp was a time when you get in shape. Now if you're not in top shape coming into the camp, you're in the doghouse till Christmas. That's one reason why guys can play longer and play at a higher level. Obviously there's other factors. You know, listening to Ray Bourque, the season he had this year, listening to some of the interviews he's had, you're never satisfied in what you do, you always take pride each and every year. You almost sometimes compare it to a golf game. No matter what you shoot out there, you always felt that you could do better. I think that's how some players approach the season, that you can always do better.

End of FastScripts…

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