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January 19, 1996

Mark Messier


Q. Mark, during the puck draw, you took a broom instead of a hockey stick. What was going on there?

MARK MESSIER: Well, that skill is dangerous enough as it is, and somehow they had dropped -- when they brought some stuff on the ice with the cameras or what THEY dropped stuff in the corners, so if anybody would have stepped on there, they could have been seriously hurt, so just tried to --

Q. You weren't trying give your teammate, Brian Leetch, a little slicker surface there?

MARK MESSIER: Always. There is no question about that. (LAUGHTER) But, no, it was a lot of stuff there, so it would have been a little dangerous.

Q. Have you been beginning to think maybe there is something charmed about this year for you?

MARK MESSIER: You never want to let yourself think that way, but it has been really a fun first half for our whole team, I think. And I know, I, myself, I'm having a good time playing this year, and I think when you are in that kind of environment feeling that way -- I think you play better. And I know it is fun going to the rink every day and fun playing the games, but, you know, the real season is just starting now. We all know that the second half is much tougher. Teams start buckling down playing for playoff spots. There is a lot of tough hockey to be played now.

Q. Mark, did you sense tonight that there was a real burning desire for the players to go out and win? Seemed like everybody was burned up when goals were scored. Did you sense that?

MARK MESSIER: Yeah, I thought that when the skills competition originally got introduced, I think it was new to everybody. But I can honestly say that all the players have really takin' to it. I think the competitiveness comes out of everybody. All the guys were really into the fastest skater and they go out there without much warmup and put that amount of effort in, it is great.

Q. How did you feel going 4 for 4?

MARK MESSIER: Well, I knew that Bourque goes 4 for 4, so if I had a chance to win it, I knew I had to at least get the first one any ways. I concentrated on getting the two low ones; then try to hit the ones up top. Once you get that first one, kind of settles you down a little bit; then you can kind of relax a little bit.

Q. Then in the OT the West scored; you came back and put yours in. How did that one feel?

MARK MESSIER: Sudden death, there were three shooters; all of a sudden Mr. MacLean said you are the first shooter. I knew it was sudden death. It was like getting thrown in the frying pan in a hurry, so I just got out there and let it happen.

Q. Mark, have you had a chance to see the new puck for tomorrow night and any thoughts about that?

MARK MESSIER: I saw it briefly on TV. They were demonstrating it on the TV a little bit - pretty interesting. I don't know what it is going to be like for a game there, but certainly an interesting concept, and you know, I think the fans will decide whether it is good or bad.

Q. Mark, how happy would it be to score 50 goals this year?


Q. How happy would you be to score 50 goals this year after the --

MARK MESSIER: I think the end result for us now is, you know, is what we are trying to do is win the Stanley Cup, and I think you know, like any other year anything short of that can't be considered, you know, a real successful season whether you have scored 10 goals, 50 goals or 70 goals, so, you know, it is going well for the entire team for the first half, but again as I said before, the season only starts in the second half, so -- but as far as goals and assists, I never really put too much emphasis on that and more importantly than that, just trying to find a win in any particular game.

Q. You mentioned how well you guys have done in the first half of the season. Any concern now that things start cranking up perhaps a let-down....

MARK MESSIER: I don't think there is going to be a sense of a let-down. If anything, we think we can improve. I think the rest is going to be good for us. Our months of January and February are pretty favorable for us. It gets a little bit more hectic in March and towards April, but, no, we feel we can improve a lot in a lot of areas and hopefully we can do that in the next half.

Q. Whole thing with the new puck that they are talking about, from what you can tell, does this add new fans to the game. In New York it seems like there are enough hockey fans there.

MARK MESSIER: That is right, but we are trying to get in the new breed of fans, so to speak, and I think in the end, the fans are going to decide whether it is a good puck or bad puck and a good idea or a bad idea. For some who are familiar with the game, it is easy to follow the puck on TV because he can see who is skating with it and where the puck should be and the idiosyncracies of all the players. For a new fan; especially with some of the angles of the cameras, it is a good idea. Time will decide whether it is going to work out or not.

Q. Are you trying to get Wayne Gretzky to come to New York?

MARK MESSIER: Oh, that is -- there are 26 teams and 700 players that would love to play with Wayne, and I am one of them and the New York Rangers is probably one of them, but they are going to have to direct those questions to the Board of Governors in New York.

Q. Mess, you might want to spice things up tomorrow night by guaranteeing a victory. ?

MARK MESSIER: No, I don't think I can do that. I learned my lesson on that one. But good show tonight. I think that there was good energy in the crowd. The fans seemed to enjoy it and the players, they were starting to really get more -- a lot more competitive than perhaps when it was first introduced. I think overall, you know, it was a pretty good night for the League.

Q. You had the biggest reception from the Boston crowd other than the Boston players. Did that mean anything to you?

MARK MESSIER: Well, certainly did. I think that you know, the two Stanley Cup finals here in Boston, I think, you know, I think the Boston fans can appreciate the teams that we came in here with, and -- but I have to say, a little surprised playing against the Bruins and from New York, but I think all the players got a nice ovation, and it was nice to see Mario get the ovation that he did, but it is great. Nice feeling.

End of FastScripts....

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