May 26, 2001
DENVER, COLORADO: Game One
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You had a fair amount of success against this team in the two regular season games you played outscoring them 12 to 4. Seems like the fellows weren't reading too much into that; they were really putting a lot of weight on what happened in the regular season; is that fair to say?
COACH ROBINSON: That's fair to say. We didn't have our full club and besides, once the season is over, especially when you get to this point, so much has changed and so many different things have happened. Everybody is playing at their best. I don't think we saw them at their best in those two games. But we can take solace in the fact at least we played well in those games. But Playoffs is a different ballgame.
Q. There has been some media comparison of the Avalanche's top three defense to your great three defense in Montreal, do you take that as an insult maybe right now or a high compliment?
COACH ROBINSON: It is a very high compliment. I mean you have got three great defensemen in Ray and Blakey and Foote, so that's very nice to still be compared, but I don't think there is a lot of people that remember how we played. It has been so long ago. If you do remember you are as old as I am. (LAUGHTER)
Q. Are you going to try to match lines even though you don't have the last change, specifically try to get Holik on the Sakic line?
COACH ROBINSON: I think, you know, matching is fine, but there comes a point where if you start having guys go -- coming off and on the ice, you are not getting much momentum yourself. You are losing scoring opportunities, I think you are wasting the flow of the game, so yes, I'd like to get certain people out there against whether it is the Sakic line or you know, Drury, but not at all costs.
Q. Everybody says that this is the toughest trophy to win. I think a part of that is because the post season is a long grinded out affair. It is very unusual that you get the two top teams to get to this point. This would seem to be a good thing for hockey. Is there a way to kind of make it more likely that the two best teams can see their way to a Final like this?
COACH ROBINSON: Well, I think because of the difficulty of getting here it is very difficult to say, "well you always want the two best teams." I think basically because it is much more of a survival than it is, you know, the best team getting here, that I think what makes this so special. And there are no givens in hockey or in sports these days. It is one thing to make the Playoffs and I think that there is a lot of emphasis just on making the Playoffs. It is a long season and so many things can happen. So I think that both teams and I am sure Bob feels the same way, we feel very fortunate to have gotten this far. But it has taken a lot of hard work and as hard as it is to get here, it is even more difficult to win the ultimate.
Q. Defenseman Sean O'Donnell was an important late season addition to the game. I'd like to know about your thought process and how you determined how you would use him; which partner would you use him with and how you would use him on special teams?
COACH ROBINSON: Well, actually he has been paired with lately with Rafalski. That was kind of a last minute decision because ended up we wanted to try to get Daneyko and Stevens against Lemieux line. It just seems that O'Donnell feels a lot more comfortable on the left side than he did the right because earlier on he was being paired with Colin White and O'Donnell was playing the right side. But he has been very steady for us since we acquired him from Minnessota. I knew him from Los Angeles. He was a steady defenseman there as well. I think that what Sean has done, he has worked on his conditioning; thought he was-- could have lost a few pounds and I asked him about that when we were in L.A., I thought he was playing a little heavy, thought he'd get a little quicker if he lost a few pounds and he has done that. I think that has really helped his game.
Q. Can you compare the feeling of being in the Finals as a player versus being here as a coach and being here as a coach last year versus being here this year after last year's experience?
COACH ROBINSON: Well, it is a different experience. My first experience last year - and it was different circumstances - but I think it is a great feeling no matter if you are a coach or a player. I think as we were talking about it earlier, it is such a difficult road just to get here that you have to feel very proud to be in this situation. I feel very fortunate and very proud that I have a chance to not only do it again and to be here last year, but also to be here this year. I know how exciting it was and how good it was for hockey because it was a tremendous series last year and I hope the same thing applies for this year. Because being from Florida and having a place down there, not many people even talk about hockey especially when it is 110 degrees out, but they were still talking about hockey in June and July and that is a great tribute to the National Hockey League that we are selling the game and the game is being watched in all parts of the United States.
Q. Sort of on the same lines, last year so much was talked about your experience as a player, having won so many times and how your team was a very young team. Now they have been here and is that going to be advantage for you or disadvantage?
COACH ROBINSON: I think it is always an advantage when you have got young players that have never been in this situation before because there is a lot of distractions and a lot of pressure on the players at this juncture of the year. So if they are used to it a little bit and they have that added experience, it is always a plus because they know what they are getting into, they know what it took, to have to play and be successful. So I think it is definitely a plus for us.
End of FastScripts....