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June 4, 2004

Andrew Ference

Marcus Nilsson


Q. Coach Sutter was talking about how he sort of came up with the plan 28 games left in the season divided into seven games and he talked about how he thinks it's helped you guys. Can you talk about as a player going through that and how it's helped you guys considering where you are at right now?
ANDREW FERENCE: Well, I think the biggest thing about that whole concept of playing the series of seven games was the fact that we had so many guys that hadn't been in Playoffs before and that we had a fairly inexperienced team as far as Playoffs went, and so to kind of get in that mindset of what it takes to concentrate on a set number of games and in the series kind of a fashion was, I think, beneficial, the fact that we knew the pressure games, knew the big games that it took to win and the fact that we needed to win basically all four series just to make the Playoffs, so we had a set goal that we had to achieve. In doing that, I think that we all learned very valuable things about the importance of big games.
Q. To what extent did you guys take it in the dressing room in terms of, you know, for all the Game 7s in those sets? Were you almost talking each other into it? Was it, "Hey, boys, big Game 7 tonight"? Did you guys really buy into it on that level?
ANDREW FERENCE: I don't think it was to that level. I think it was kind of more of a background thing, something that, you know, it wasn't at the forefront of every conversation we had but it was definitely there as another thing that we can concentrate on. A lot of the big games that we had during our playoff stretch just happened to fall in certain games within the series that would either clinch it or put us ahead. There was a couple in Colorado. I know there was a big one that we had, something like that.
Q. Did it help mentally more than anything?
ANDREW FERENCE: Yeah, it's not going to help you physically doing something like that. It's all about the mental preparation for our group going into Playoffs. It wasn't just for that. It was a huge thing in making Playoffs because we had to win -- we had to be over .500 as a team. We put ourselves into that position going into those last 28 games and it was just a good -- it was good way to kind of deflect a little bit of attention.
Q. (Inaudible)?
ANDREW FERENCE: No. It was good focus within our room.
Q. You guys have taken this new-hero-every-night thing to a new level through these Playoffs. Many different players are scoring goals. Do you ever run out? Is there a new hero -- is there a new guy left still for tomorrow night?
MARCUS NILSON: I hope there's a new hero tomorrow night, but I think all guys that play are heroes. Doesn't really matter who ends up putting the puck in the net. When you win you win as 20 guys and that's 20 heroes.
Q. 16 hours that have gone by since you guys have won; have you given yourself the chance kind of to step back and go we are one win away from this whole thing?
ANDREW FERENCE: I think every little victory you have had along the way we have enjoyed for a short time and been proud of that, but I think one of the biggest things our team has done which helps us with our mental strength is not get too excited. We have, you know, through the leadership of our captains and some of the older guys on our team, I think that we have kept a very even keel about it and know that we can celebrate after the fact and there's plenty of time to get all worked up and let the emotions run wild when we have actually accomplished something.
Q. I am from Detroit and the Red Wings are still talking about the style that you play; the hard working, never quit, physical style. I was wondering do you think that's the number one reason why you are here and did that evolve and, you know, when did it click? When did this team become the type of team that has been playing the way it has?
MARCUS NILSON: Well, I haven't been there that long so I don't know -- I thought it was clicking when I got here, we have been playing the same way ever since, and just like you said, it's hard work and good goaltending and you know, we got Jarome, scores a lot of goals. I think it's a good mix.
ANDREW FERENCE: The thing with our team is when you are a little lower payroll, little smaller market, I think that a lot of other teams and a lot of people have realized what a team effort it takes. As good as Jarome and Mikka have been they haven't won too many games on their own. I think in games where we have a line that's not going or not, we have lost. That has been probably the most special thing about our team, that it really has taken everybody to contribute to the wins.
Q. Does Jarome Iginla continue to surprise you with what he does? How does he compare to Mario Lemieux in playing with him?
ANDREW FERENCE: That's tough. I have been asked that before. I mean, the thing with Mario is I got there at the end of his career. I mean, I had his Jersey when I was a kid. He was already legendary, like he was in my eyes could do no wrong. He didn't do much wrong. You know, all his accomplishments have, you know, speak for his game and Jarome, it's neat to play with him because I get to see the whole process right now, like of him building up that reputation, building up the superstar status by doing incredible things on the ice, by having huge games, by answering the call, when people ask, you know, if he really is a superstar, and it's neat for me to see that because you know, obviously the similarities between the two, their drive, they hate losing. The fact that, you know, they compete so hard and they care so much about the team, those are all similarities, but you know, the fact -- where I get to see it from is totally different in the two.
Q. You guys haven't played well. You have played well but you don't have the greatest record at home, but if there was one game that you guys have played well in in all three is Game 6. Is there a reason for that and obviously hoping for it to continue tomorrow?
MARCUS NILSON: I thought we played really well -- not against Vancouver -- we were down 4-nothing -- but the other two games we played really well. We know we got to get focused. We want to win at home; we don't want to go back to Tampa. I think we will have a good game.
Q. Do you guys have to fight against the external atmosphere of excitement and so on that's going around not just in this city but in the country? Do you have to block that all out and pretend it's not happening in order to get done what you have to get done?
ANDREW FERENCE: It's a fine line, I think you know. To a certain extent we have embraced the excitement that the city has brought; that -- people on the streets, you know, cars painted and the flags flying, I mean it's neat to see that on an everyday level, but come game time, I think it's so important for our team to kind of like you said, block some of those things out and realize that, you know, as awesome as it is to see and to have that kind of support, you know, when you get on the ice it's not going to help you one bit.
I think that, you know, for the first couple of games of Playoffs when there's all that excitement around, I think that we learned that lesson the hard way where we kind of didn't come out with the same kind of fire and just, whether it was just subconsciously, whatnot, we have learned along the way. The guys are doing a good job of blocking it out. Like I said, it stays with an even-keeled approach, where we are not getting too excited about it. We can appreciate everything after the fact and we can soak it all up and I am sure if we do the job the excitement will be around for a long time for us to enjoy.
Q. You guys have accomplished a lot of these goals throughout the four series, yet you lost Game 6 against Vancouver you came back and won it. Are you ready now to go into this game tomorrow night and be everything you could sort of be? Have you learned along the way to put you will that stuff aside and win tomorrow night?
MARCUS NILSON: I think so, yeah. We learned our lesson against Vancouver. Came out really flat and they were up 4-nothing, so coming back and winning that series I think we learned a big lesson in that Game 6 and the other two series we were really ready when it came down to Game 6 and I think we'll be ready tomorrow.
Q. There have been a lot of guys that helped you get to where you are, I mean, as a team along the way that maybe are with the team anymore and a guy like Jamie McLennan comes to mind. Can you talk about him when he was here and what he still means to this team the way the players keep in touch with him?
ANDREW FERENCE: It's a tight group, as much as we have embraced the guys that have come in and you know, they fit so well into our team it was hard to see a couple guys leave. Jamie, especially, being such a big guy in the locker room and being, I mean, just you know, player's player. Everybody liked him. He was -- put the team first, he showed up when he had to play and never complained when he didn't play. He was just an awesome team guy and the fact that you know, there would be no doubt that he will be with us after the season, you know, shaking hands and we'll be thanking him a lot. He's a big part of this team. Right from the general managers that put the team together to players that have left, you know, over the years, been a lot that's gone into making this happen.
Q. What is special about this team, a lot is being made because you guys are fairly low seed, the 12th seed and you are having this kind of success, how important or unimportant is the seed and/is that --
MARCUS NILSON: I don't really know. It's been since we have been better on the road, maybe it hasn't mattered that much. But usually if you have home-ice advantage it's going to help you, but we have been able to be really good on the road and we have been winning a lot of Game 1's and started off the series good. I think that has been a big part of our games and other than that, I mean, usually if you are the higher seed, you should have an easy road to be where we're at, but we have beaten out three division champions, so for us it hasn't mattered, I don't think.
Q. Up to 60,000 people last night on 17th Avenue. Do you really think you have a sense of what the team has meant to this city? Secondly have you been down to 17th Avenue?
ANDREW FERENCE: I went there after the last two series wins, we -- I wasn't amongst the throngs of people. I was in a little restaurant there, but I think as a team we have kind of see the tip of the iceberg. We see what a lot of people outside the city -- it was on TV, and in the newspapers, whatnot, we see some of it. But it's -- I almost don't want to see it. I just want to, like I said, enjoy it after the fact when I think a lot of the guys will tell you and they will be totally honest with you when they say that you know, if we didn't win the Stanley Cup we would be very disappointed. We wouldn't say that at the start of the season. We wouldn't say that in round one, but when we put ourselves in this position, you know, we won't be happy without winning it all. I think that's kind of kept us in check where, you know, we don't really -- we enjoy the celebrations, we enjoy people getting excited about it, but at the same time, we don't really see the point of getting too excited until you actually win because that's all that matters to us at least.
Q. You have been in a couple of winner-take-all games of the World Juniors, Memorial Cup. Do you treat tomorrow night's game in a similar vein and do you draw something from those?
ANDREW FERENCE: I don't know, that was a long time ago. They are both obviously big-pressure games but I think the older that I have gotten I think I am a lot different hockey player now. So personally for me to get prepared for tomorrow night's game is like night and day compared to when I was 19 or 18 in the Memorial Cup. I mean, it's a totally different experience, and it doesn't really compare. I am surprisingly a lot more calm than I was going into those games.
Q. Winning the Stanley Cup is winning the Stanley Cup is winning the Stanley Cup, but if it ends up that you kind of go down in history as the most unlikely team ever to win the Stanley Cup, does that make it even better?
ANDREW FERENCE: Well, not having won one before I think it would just be so exciting no matter how you did it. I think you know, I don't know how other guys felt on other teams when they won but I know how I'd feel about how proud I would be about doing something that I knew was so tough, you know, for our team to do. I mean, I know how hard I work, you know, game in, game out, and the cool thing is that I can look across the room at every single guy and know that they work just as hard and that the effort that has gone into our successes hasn't just been a couple of lucky bounces or well you beat -- you know, this team didn't play very good. We played very good teams that were playing good hockey and we really had to earn everything that we have accomplished. That's very special to me to do it with a group of guys that are as 100% dedicated as I am and that's neat to not look and see like a weak link on the team, but know that there's -- it's a very strong unit.

End of FastScripts...

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