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June 6, 1997

Terry Murray


Q. At this point, what do you say to your team?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, we got to keep it real simple here right now. I think what we need to keep in mind is that we are not going to look at winning four games. We are going to look at winning one game. We are going to look at winning the first period, I think, most importantly. And, if we come into the game tomorrow with that kind of purpose in our game, then we will be a heck of a lot better than what we were last night. It was very disappointing in how we performed. I was very pissed off with how we performed. It's gotten a lot better from our top line right through to our fourth line and one through six in our defense and our goaltenders. There is no one player that is excused from the performance last night. But we got to regroup. It is the Stanley Cup Finals. You are not allowed -- you don't have a lot of time to do much today on the ice, so it is meeting time. Get ourselves ready to go for tomorrow.

Q. You talk a lot about players motivating themselves throughout the season. Now, we all know what they have to do. What does a coach do on a day like today? What is your role in this situation?

TERRY MURRAY: We just finished up a pretty extensive meeting. A lot of things were said. It was a closed door meeting and it is not something that I want to repeat in here, nor do I feel I want to repeat it. But, the message was very loud and it was very clear. Everybody knows what the job is in front of us. Everybody knows what their responsibilities are. There was the players, it was the three coaches. There were no punches held back. Everything was laid out on the table.

Q. Your team had a pretty good year and a very good Playoffs to this point. And I was wondering if it is unfortunate maybe that this team maybe defined by what happened in the last three games rather than what happened over the previous games or is that just the way it goes at this point in this League?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, that is the way it goes in golf too, you are only remembered by your last putt. So, that is the way it is. If that is the case, if that is the way our team is going to be remembered as to how we play, then we have an opportunity to change that thinking. Let us get a good game under our belt tomorrow night. Let us get a win and then we get ourselves back to the Cores State and do it all over again. So, this thing is not over. We can address that question maybe after we see what unfolds in the remaining games. But, right now, we are positive. We feel good in the sense that we know we can play a heck of a lot better. We have not seen our -- the game that is necessary to play in order to win a game. It doesn't have to be our best game, just go out and play good solid hockey right now and stop beating ourselves. And if we take, I think, that kind of approach on the defensive part of the game, then, at least, we are going to give ourselves a better opportunity to win a period.

Q. Unless we missed him, Eric Lindros was not on the ice this morning, just a day off for him or what is the situation?

TERRY MURRAY: Yeah, there were several players that were not on the ice. It was an option as we answered a question over here. Today, there is one day between Games 3 and 4. There is not an opportunity to get on the ice and work hard. Which is maybe what we need right now is just get back to some real hard work to compete at a higher level. And, I think the important thing that needed to be done was done in the dressing room. Everybody was there for that.

Q. You and some of the players talked last night about confidence and not having the confidence right now. What happened to the confidence that you came into this series with?

TERRY MURRAY: I wish I could find it. I wish could I find the answer for that. It seems to be that when you get to this time and this place, a lot of strange things start to happen. And, the flow of the game, the decision making, just the play -- to play the game the right way is not happening for us right now. I don't know why. I don't know where it has gone. But, many times we have been through this problem before and it is basically a choking situation that I call it for our team right now. That can turn around. The one thing about going through that phase is that it is a mental block as much as anything. We just got to break through to a better performance tomorrow. Get to feel good about our individual play, our team play. If we can get one period under our belt with a good solid effort and come ahead with the lead, then let us build on it.

Q. Two questions. One is: Can you update us on Paul Coffey's status and second one: You said you were angry. Are the players as angry as you, or are they more confused and frustrated?

TERRY MURRAY: First question, I haven't talked to our team doctor today to know any status change on Paul Coffey. I feel, though, that I would have heard by now if there had been a change. Maybe something will be told to us tonight by our doctors back in Philadelphia. We will just wait and see give you an update tomorrow. To the second part of the question, yeah, there is a lot of players in that room that are pissed off too. The three years that we have been together, you go through an awful lot. You learn how to play as a team. There is a lot of things that bring the bond tighter as the games go by, as years go by, and we have been through a lot as a team. And, you work so hard, and not only in the past couple of years, but you kind of reflect on, you know, what it has taken you in your lifetime to get here and the opportunity that is here now, there is no guarantee it is going to be any easier next time. I think our road to the Stanley Cup Final this year has been relatively hard, but certainly not in the most difficult route that other teams have taken in the past. We have got to identify that and know that that players that -- like Dale Howerchuk, he has been in the League and he has been a great player in this League for many, many years and this is his first chance of being in the Stanley Cup Final, so we got to be better and take advantage of it. And, play with that kind of -- the pride that got us here.

Q. You talked about the other three series. Coming into this series, this really is the first time you needed to make major adjustments on your breakouts, fore-checking. Has that adjustment there late in the season affected why you are here right now in this position?

TERRY MURRAY: If changes during the season are during a Playoff affect a team, then you have no chance to ever win. You have to be able to adjust. You have got to fine tune at all times, whether it is between periods or after a game is over. No matter what the situation is. You have got to be smart enough. You have got to have that ability as a team to be very flexible and readily make change. If players or people are stubborn to change, you can't have them. You are not going to be successful.

Q. Have they been too drastic?

TERRY MURRAY: No, absolutely not. Not in our minds. You know, it was -- they are subtle changes. There is certainly a little bit of a change that we talked about in our system on the defensive part of it. But, it is something that has gone -- that has happened before. It is not a complete surprise, let me put it that way. I don't know, the time of the year right now, the Finals seems to be more of a problem for us than any change that we are making.

Q. I know you said last night, nobody played well last night. Could you talk about the play of Chris Therien in the first two games, probably most solid defensemen, and his play throughout the Playoffs?

TERRY MURRAY: My statement was a pretty general statement just because of the way I feel. Certainly we got good performances from guys - Chris Therien being one of them. He has played really hard here through the Playoffs. And, his growth has been great throughout the year. He has been in and out of the lineup, and many, many meetings, I think his game has improved because of his only mental toughness improving, and, you know, when you get a guy that is 6' 4", 237 pounds going out and playing hard and playing the type of game that he is right now, he is going to be a very effective player for a long time. 25 years old. So, we are glad with the growth he has shown and the same with some other young people. Janne Niinimaa, I think, in the blue line, has played simply outstanding. He is 22 years old. To get to this time in their career, this place in hockey, it is going to do wonderful things for their careers.

Q. When you were talking about the loss of confidence, you used the words "It is basically a choking situation for a team." What do you mean by that?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, I think whenever, you, as a team go out and compete, competition brings out the best in you. Sometimes it brings out the worst in you. But, if you keep on competing, inevitably you will get to the best. You will work your way through it. But, if you stop competing and you are not competing at the level that, you know, you have to where you walk into the room, you take a look at your teammates' eyes you say, "I did my job, I worked as hard as I could," if that is not happening, you are never going to break through and you are going to be in one of those teams that were also around your whole life, you are going to choke. You are going to get into competitive situations. You are not going to know how to break through and get the job done. That is something that you learn as an athlete, you learn as a team. Right now I think we are at that time in our development where we are kind of, you know, in between. We are learning how to do it right. Most importantly, guys, let us keep our work boots on and let us keep our focus right and let us keep our intensity and that hard work, that competitiveness at a high level so that we will find the way of how to break through. We want to just get five minutes of that first period under our belt where we are going to win. Then we will go to the next five minutes and then we will go to the third five minutes and we will win one period. That will help our confidence. That will help us break through.

Q. You basically elaborated on this one. This whole city seems to be planning on a victory celebration tomorrow night. Flyers haven't won in this town since 1988. Again, how do you build up and get the team ready for this?

TERRY MURRAY: The past does not equal the future. That means nothing to me. Nothing at all, what happened in over the last 10, 12 years, I could care less. All I am looking at is tomorrow - one game. That is it. That is all we have to get.

Q. Just from your remarks, is there something happening, some dynamic on the team that is keeping the guys from completely pulling for each other and working as hard as they can for each other?

TERRY MURRAY: I think everybody -- I think people are -- I think the players are playing hard for each other, is that what you say?

Q. Yeah.

TERRY MURRAY: The intentions are good, very good. But, I think that there is a time when we are seeing in the games that we have played so far that we are self-destructing. We are just giving up too much on the defensive part of the game. Again, last night, I think there was probably a dozen rushes, odd rushes against, which is pretty much in line with what happened in Games 1 and 2. That is something that is right out of -- very uncharacteristic for our hockey club. We played solid defensively. That is the very heart of our team. The very heart of our organization is our defensive play. And, we have really let ourselves down in that area. So, again, the intentions of everyone are heading in the right direction. And, when we are getting ourselves behind, like we are, score the first goal of the game last night, but soon it is 2 to 1, soon it is 3 to 1 and the confidence level of the team wilters a little bit under that pressure and we are just having a very tough time making the things happen after that.

Q. The problems you're talking about are not internal bickering or --

TERRY MURRAY: Oh, no. No there is nothing wrong with the room. There is no player at each other's throat. There is no one yelling at each other in the room other than maybe me at the players, but the players are fine. Everybody is on the same page. We know what we have to do. We have been through a lot as an organization in the past two, three years, a lot of adversity, and we have worked our way through it. This is simply another step in our development. We have got to find a way to get it done tomorrow night. And, if we do that, we will move on to the next game.

Q. Were you concerned with the pace that Detroit was keeping that you used six defensemen instead of digging in with the best of what you had left?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, I feel I need to use six right now. There is times when I shorten the bench as I did in Game 2. I went down to five defensemen, four defensemen pretty quick in that game. But, the problems that we are bringing on ourselves, we are spending a lot of time in our own end right now. If you constantly are looking to turn the puck over, whether it be in the high offensive zone or neutral zone, and they are coming back at you through stick handle turnovers, you are spending an extra 15 seconds, 20 seconds in your own end, faceoff, another faceoff in your own end, drop the puck, let us go. Maybe we will break out another turnover back in our end again. So, that factor does enter into the decision as to why I am going to with six defensemen until we clean that up and get the support of our forwards to get back quicker, to advance the puck, and get things going the other way until we are doing it the right way. I need to keep going with the six guys on the fairly regular basis; when we start doing it right, I can shorten the bench because we are not going to spend as much time coming back into our own end.

Q. Last night after the game you couldn't even mouth the kind of cliche that, yes, we can still definitely still win this series. And, today though, you kind of explained it. You called it basically a choking situation. Are you worried about what effect that will have on some of the players on whether they will win tomorrow night?

TERRY MURRAY: If I sat here last night and said that after being down three games that our goal right now is to -- that we are going to go win the Stanley Cup, I don't want to be bullshitting you. And, I said that last night, our job right now is to win one game. That is all there is to it. If we are going to look at the big picture, we have got to win four, we have got to win four. We don't have a chance. We got to give ourselves a chance. We have to break this thing down into small areas, focus on the small part of the game right now. And focus on one game. Even as I already said, focus on five minutes of the first period. Focus on the first period alone. That way you can develop some confidence and you can start to grow as a team, confidence again, and build it into bigger and better things. But, I am not going to kid you or kid ourselves. The players know. The players in the room are guys - they have been around the game a long time. Their whole life has been playing the game. Now, we are in the Stanley Cup Finals. If we are going to be that fragile and collapse because of things that I am saying right now about, you know, having to win four games and worry about how fragile our team is, we don't have a chance.

Q. Aside from the obvious lack of production, what is the difference that you see in the way Eric Lindros is playing now and the way he was playing at the end of the Conference Finals against New York?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, I think the one thing his confidence level, no doubt, whenever you get on a roll in the Playoffs and things start to happen as they did in, say, the Ranger series, he was scoring some huge goals, six seconds left in the game, he scores a big goal and that does a wonderful job for your individual confidence, for your team confidence. Right now, the puck is not going into the net. So, if it is not going into the net, how are we going to make it happen? What else can we do in order to turn things around? Maybe it is just, again, getting back to the foundation of our team, which is playing solid defensively. Play hard, everybody has got to compete, but let us work on the defensive part of the game. Let us not give up those easy goals that are really, I think, hurting our confidence level right now. Let us get into the second period, 0-0. Let us see what happens. Maybe then we get the first goal and things can get coming our way a little bit easier. But, until that time, defense is where it is at. I think that is where he can be better as everybody else on the hockey club.

Q. Can you compare what you have been through in these last three games to anything else in your coaching career?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, I think the only thing that is different is the time of the year. And I know that means -- that is a lot. But, there is always those times within the year when you go through problems like this. Maybe you all -- you certainly have longer to be able to work things out. You have bigger breaks between games. You can get back on the ice. You can work harder in practice and things can turn much faster. So we have been here before, this kind of frustration level, the kind of meeting time that we are going through. It all is the same. The only thing, unfortunately, is we are in the Stanley Cup Finals and the time and the focus is much greater. The spotlight becomes a heat lamp at this time of the year.

Q. I was wondering if any of this kind of play that the Flyers have demonstrated is a function of not having been to the Finals whereas Detroit had in recent years been to the Finals, is there a value to that?

TERRY MURRAY: There is a value to it. I think when I look back at the Red Devil series a couple of years ago, Detroit, wonderful season, statistically all -- every ingredient of the team seemed to be in place, and couldn't just couldn't get the job done. Nothing was happening. The fore was not there. The confidence of their key players was not there. And I think I have said this many times, I hate like heck to have to go through losing to learn how to win. But, I think, when you are an athlete, in any sport, that going through adversity is something that you have to welcome and you have to sort out and you have to learn how to, again, break through to something bigger and better. And, the problems that we have right now are forcing us to put on the work boots and the, old cliches, just getting back to doing the basics.

Q. From the outside of it, it would appear that you guys aren't playing as physically as you have in the past, certainly in the last two series. Is that a function of how Detroit is playing or a result of something else?

TERRY MURRAY: You got to give Detroit compliments for their game. They have played very, very well. Very smart. A lot of poise, a lot of discipline. The fore-check which is a big, big part of our hockey game in the first two games, it really didn't come -- become a factor in the game. I think that is something that we talked about always something that we establish early in the game. With the way they ice the puck and flip it out of the neutral zone and put it off the glass and delay the game, and buy time for the defense, it is very difficult to get those impact hits if there is not going to be a fore-check going. There is some hits in the neutral zone and certainly some stuff in our "D" zone, but I think when you have a part of your game that you relied on a lot over the years to get to here, being the fore-check, and it is not happening for you, that takes away a lot of the hitting.

Q. We seen the these breakdowns coming, there have been a lot of blown leads. You simply outscored teams. Are you paying the price now for that?

TERRY MURRAY: It could be. That is hard to measure. I think the -- you know, that is not -- the fact that we lost a couple of defensemen, guys that we depended on, played a lot for us, certainly is something that is hurting us right now. But I think -- I just think that the decision making that we are showing right now is right out of character for what we have done throughout the year and through the Playoffs. Now, I simply mean by, through the neutral zone with the forwards and in the offensive zone, where it is just too many turnovers. Just too many things that we are not doing, that is right for us to be successful as a team.

Q. Maybe we exaggerate or romanticize about what a captain has to do or what he can do at a time like this, the confidence all of that, the tone, the convincing the team that this is not a hopeless situation, is that Eric's situation and if it is, how is he doing in that regard?

TERRY MURRAY: When you are a team that gets to the Finals in the Stanley Cup, or you get to a Championship Round, at any level, any sport, rather, there is certain people that have got you there. You have to have a big line in hockey in order for good things to happen. There has to be one guy on that line that is going to be able to say, we are going to do it and we are going to do it this way and I am going to lead the way. And, we need people -- we need the leaders in our hockey club who have been there all year for us and are still there for us to take one more little step for us so that we can find a way,, again, I just come back to that, to be able to win a game tomorrow. And, with Eric, in particular, being our captain and our best player, there is always the responsibility that falls on the shoulders of those kinds of players. And, don't do anything dramatic as far as a big change, just go out and make a little change, just be a little bit better in the areas that will give all the other players who are out there doing their job, third line guys and second line guys the confidence to know that they are doing the right stuff because whenever they have to break away from their role, big problems start to happen. It just breaks down from there, I think.

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