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May 26, 2003

Joe Nieuwendyk


Q. Joe, tell us how you feel and whether you will be able to play in Game 1.

JOE NIEUWENDYK: I wouldn't say there is a lot of change. I'm hoping that one of these days it's going to come around, but I would say we'll see how it is tomorrow morning. It's a little early to make a game decision.

Q. Joe, could you just talk, please, about how Jeff Friesen has fit into your team, how he's played, what he's meant to the club?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: I think, like any player that's come to a new team, there is always an adjustment period, but I think Jeff has really settled into his role here in New Jersey and been a very effective player for us. When you have speed and strength like he has, and you use it to your advantage, it's only going to create a lot for you. Like in the second half of the season, he's been feeling a lot more comfortable with his surroundings and using his assets to his advantage. He does some big things for us.

Q. Joe, what is the injury and what is it preventing you from doing?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: It's a lower body injury. I just feel it in a lot of different areas. I tried to get out there and warm up the other night, I knew in warm-up in Game 7 that I was going to have a tough time. In the back of your mind you think that maybe things will warm up and get better as you go. That wasn't the case. After two shifts I knew it was going to be difficult to play.

Q. Joe, in preparing for such a big event like this, and you're not knowing whether you're going to go or not, how difficult is that for your preparations for a game?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: It's extremely frustrating. This time of year you have an opportunity to go for another Stanley Cup and you're not sure of your status. It's extremely difficult. Hey, I just have to keep myself positive and hope that one of these days I'm going to start to feel better.

Q. Joe, do you have any recollections of Pat Burns as a coach in his last finals, in the '89 finals?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: I was a part of that '89 final with Calgary. I really didn't know much about Pat before this season. I've seen all of the accomplishments he has had over his career, and now I can see why. He's demanding coach, yet very fair, and he's been no different here. I think he brings the best out of a lot of people.

Q. Joe, even if you can't go tomorrow, are you confident that you will play in this series at some point?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: Well, I certainly hope so. I think I'll just take it one day at a time. That's the thing, if I start thinking too far ahead and worrying about what's down the road, it just becomes more frustrating, but I really, truly believe I'm going to be playing in this series for sure.

Q. Joe, do you do any exercises or anything to keep in shape?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: Not too much at all. I don't think that's going to be a factor either. I think at this point there is a maximum of two weeks left in the season anyhow. That shouldn't be a problem.

Q. Joe, you have obviously been a part of very successful teams elsewhere. Being a relative newcomer to this organization, in your mind, what is it about the Devils, the sustained success this organization has had, what enables that to happen in your view?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: I think it's a credit to the organization, and you don't get to be this way without it starting from the top, and when you have a solid foundation of ownership and general manager, and Lou has done a tremendous job in that regard. When it starts there it's a trickle effect down to the players. You put coaches in place that rely on one another and respect the team they have in front of them, and where I have been before, that's the same formula that was there for winning championships. Here it's no different. It starts from the top, and when it's in your organization, it doesn't go out of your organization, and the players on the team believe in what we're doing.

Q. Joe, have you talked to any of your buddies on Dallas since they lost to Anaheim, and if so, what did they tell you about this team?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: I've talked to Marty Turco and a couple of them. Really, I think there was a lot of disappointment there, obviously. I just think that they felt that they had done the things they needed to do to win the series. It just didn't happen. Maybe it was a little bit of shock that set in. Those were things we certainly will learn about this team. They are here for a reason. They beat some pretty good teams in Detroit and Dallas and Minnesota. So, they're here not by accident. We don't want to be shocked. We don't be shocked by what they're doing.

Q. Joe, if you're not able to play because of the injury, what do you try to do personally to still contribute to the success of the club?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: Well, I'll make sure that Marty gets some energy bars in between periods. You know, I'm just going to be there for them, for sure. I'm not ruling out day-to-day here. You know, this is my fourth time going to the finals, and it's always a thrill, and I certainly plan to be a part of it. Whether or not I can play tomorrow or not, we'll see. I'll be watching, if I can't go, and relay those messages to my teammates.

Q. If you can't go tomorrow, how do you see the team replacing you, who do you think he's going to go with?

JOE NIEUWENDYK: Well, I didn't see the line combinations today, but I think Patrik has played center in the past, and he will probably see some time at center if I'm unable to go. You know, I think that Pascal has done a tremendous job for us in that regard. Pat's pretty good at organizing our bench and having competent line combinations and making sure that everybody is involved. So much like Game 7 in Ottawa, he was able to keep everybody involved through and though a number of combinations at them.

End of FastScripts...

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