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May 20, 2004

Ken Hitchcock


Q. What was the difference in tonight's game, especially the way the third period ended?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, we just -- we had a great first period, and they probably looked like they got a blast from their coach. They played a hard second period, and then we threw everything we had at them in the third period and the overtime. We weren't going to be denied tonight, not at all.
Q. Stressed the importance of special teams all season, how did that play into tonight and also in the series?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I just thought the referees let us play the game today. I mean, to me, the way the game was called today is playoff hockey. And fans were upset by some calls and players were upset, and that's good stuff. Just let us play, let us decide it. I thought those two gentlemen did a hell of a job.
Q. Talk about the mood on the bench in the overtime, did you know it was coming or did you remember to breathe?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, I don't know that you know it's coming. I think you just -- you know, I told you before, we have an attitude, when it's on the line, we're not going to wait, we are not going to sit back and hope somebody is going to make a mistake. We're going for it, and we are going to press and press and press and press. And if we get caught, we get caught. But we are not sitting back, we didn't sit back for one shift in the third period, we did not sit back in the overtime and that's the way we've got to play. When it's on the line, we're not -- it's a big lesson I learned a long time ago, we are not going to sit and hope. We're going for it. That's exactly what we did.
Q. How would you describe the play of your captain tonight?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, the whole line was unbelievable. The line was for the most part unstoppable. We just got so many good efforts from people, we had a lot of people who just didn't want the season to end, and they wouldn't be denied, and Keith led the charge. But he had a right winger and a left winger that were playing right up with him. We had a lot of really good players today, a lot of really good players.
Q. Talk about the game-tying goal to send it into overtime?
KEN HITCHCOCK: It was just the accumulation of four hard-working shifts in a row. We deserved that goal. The way we played in the third period, we deserved that goal.
Q. Talk a little about Simon Gagne's performance tonight?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, he's like everybody else, you know. This is -- he's a young player who is learning how to win, and I was so happy for him, because he's a guy that we wanted and needed to step up and that's exactly what he did. His confidence as this series has gone on, has grown, and he scored gritty points today, real gritty points. That's what you need in the playoffs.
Q. You said that you don't want to sit back, you're not going to sit back and wait, you're going to go for it. Did you get the sense that they sat back or did you make them play on their heels?
KEN HITCHCOCK: No, that's probably something you should ask their coach. These games are -- they are becoming eerily familiar, and that is that they get the burst and score the goals. They got some great goal scorers. They have got people who can score from distance; Richards, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Modin, they can all score from distance; so they don't need a lot of opportunities. And then they hang on, and the goalie, their goalie was unbelievable today.
Q. On Gagne, does he tend to sort of sit back a little bit when Roenick and Primeau are healthy, like he really scored a lot when they were injured? I know he plays a great all-around game but did you have to impress on him the importance of scoring when the other top players are also in the lineup?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I think it goes hand in hand. He's probably two years away, maybe three years away, from being the player that we are going to see. He shows flashes like this, which are great. But he's still an emerging player in our league, and it takes seven years or so for a player to reach his maturity as far as understanding what it takes to win at this time of year. It's the hardest thing in the world to learn to have to do this, because this is no way that anybody wants to play, to have to play like this to win. But eventually, good players learn. If you have people pushing them, whether it's coaching staffs or captains or whatever, or veteran players, they learn these things. And Simon, this is really on-the-job training and he's really learning. I'm really happy for him.
Q. When you got here as a coach, you know the mood in this town about this team, you talk about wait and see; do you think that this team has yet created a character about it that people can now embrace or do you still think there's work left?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, I think there's always work left, but I think this team's character was created when everybody got injured. I said this to, I think, Darryl there, or was it his other brother Darryl? No. It's you. (Laughter).
I told Ed that in my opinion, we were created because of adversity and we survived it. You know, this team has made me proud, but I also think that this team has a special quality that it just -- it won't quit. It won't quit. You're going to have to stick a lot bigger stake in us than you did tonight if you expect us to quit and roll over.
Q. The last four minutes of regulation or so, do you have time to wonder, is this going to come, is this it? What are you thinking?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I don't think I was thinking anything with four minutes left. I was thinking -- I was thinking with about six minutes left that this would be a shame to lose this hockey game, with the way -- with the way we performed for more minutes than they did, it would be an absolute shame to lose this hockey game. But when you are in a sudden death situation, those things happen.
As I saw our players give absolutely everything they had and to come out short would have been a shame. I was thinking that at 6:00. Then I just felt like we were controlling the tempo so much, I really did feel like we were going to score. I thought -- I thought we were. I thought one of those seeing eye dogs from the point was going to get through, but 25 came through and did it again.
Q. The change to bring Roenick up with Primeau, what led to that and having made those changes, do you stick with this now going into Saturday?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, you know what I'm like. I just -- the thing I felt was that in the game against, in Game 5, I really felt like Keith and Simon had created a number of opportunities, and if we had a player who can finish, he might be able to score, and Radivojevic was there and he was the recipient of a lot of good chances. He was a little bit snake bitten. I just felt if there were those same opportunities there again, we might get some finish with it and that's what happened today.
Q. You mentioned how Gagne is still learning to win. In this playoff season, has Kapanen gotten there?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I think Sami has been a winner for a long time. He carries the emotional load for all the world championship and Olympic teams, so he already knows how to win. He to me is almost the most unselfish player in the National Hockey League, for the places he has to go, the positions he's had to play, who he has had to play with. To me he's one of the most unselfish players in the League.
Q. You spoke to us about desperation and execution, did you see that today and what will it take to win game 7?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, I just hope we don't get happy feet. We've had a tendency to get happy feet. We're like the Steve Martin skit; if we can avoid happy feet we'll do well in Game 7. We have not responded the way I've wanted after we've won hockey games. As long as we can shuffle out of here and not tiptoe out, we'll be fine in Game 7.

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