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June 4, 2006

Rod Brind'Amour

Cam Ward

Doug Weight


Q. Rod, are you betraying any allegiances with the hat?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: The hat? No, I've worn this before, a long time. I like the Wolf Pack, they are my team. They give me free tickets to their games. (Laughter).
Q. Some pretty hot goaltenders in the playoffs, and now you have one more test, what are your thoughts on Dwayne Roloson?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, you don't get into the playoffs without having great goaltending and you don't get this far without having exceptional goaltending. Obviously he's playing great. Our goalie is playing great. That's why these two teams are still here. That's just part of it and that's a big part of their team.
Q. It seems to be a much different mindset going into this series than 2002.
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, it's still cool, but it is different because we have a lot -- we're just such a different team. We're a lot more confident going into this one than the last one. Last time we were a team playing a Red Wing team that's got 8 million Hall of Fame players, they were all All-Stars, it just didn't match up. Didn't look like an evenly matched series whereas this one looks a lot more evenly matched and I think we are a much better team going into it now than we were even then. So it makes us feel a little better about it.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about the veterans on your team that have yet to win a Cup. One of those is Glen Wesley, 18 years, he was around the last time Gretzky led Edmonton to a Stanley Cup. What's this going to mean to him?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, it's going to mean the same to him as it's going to mean to all of us. Obviously the older you get, the more, you know, that you take from it. Cam will probably have a lot more shots at it, but myself and Dougie and Glen and Ray, you can go on and on, we know that this is our last chance pretty much.
For a guy like Glen, I sit with him on the plane all the time. This guy is a professional, he's a great guy, but he wants to win as bad as anyone. No nicer guy it could happen to.
Q. Rod, and maybe Doug can comment on this, too: You've always been a leader and you've always been around good leaders on hockey teams, but here in Carolina you've become the face of the franchise, and Doug, you went through that with Edmonton, what's it like to be looked upon as the face of the franchise?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: I wouldn't say that, first of all. I think that's what's so good about this team is, it's not really like that. We've got 20 different faces and obviously, you haven't followed us this year but it's always been a different guy every night that would win or come up with a great play to make us win. That's what I think makes our team special is, it's not about one person. It's not about one face, I don't think.
DOUG WEIGHT: I agree with Rod, I'm going to disagree with him too, later. It was that way for me with Edmonton. It was a tremendous honor to be a captain of any franchise in this league but Edmonton was special. We were all united. This room is similar to how it was there, but we have a tremendous amount of talent and belief in each other, but I do think that Rod is the face of this franchise. He deserves it, and he'll never say it, but every guy in that room feeds off what he does every day and every shift, every day off and how he carries himself. So, you know, he deserves that.
But, you know, I think we have a great team and everyone's a big part of this.
Q. Peter was talking about how underrated Stillman is around the league and even in the city here, can you just talk about what you thought of him before he got here and what you think of him now that he's been here.
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Playing against him, you have a different opinion than when you get him. You knew how good of a player he was. I was amazed that we could pick him up, to be honest with you. In the off-season, I was actually shocked. Players know how good other players are. I think the media doesn't necessarily know that. Sometimes they overrate guys, underrate. He's an underrated player. I think, if I'm not mistaken, he was like the seventh top-scorer in the league that year and all of a sudden, you know, he just got kind of pushed off to the side and we were able to get him. It's a huge, huge, pick up for us.
You look at the goals in the playoffs, he's been in on all of them, key ones, on the ice, assists, whatever. He's just a great player. For us to get him is just one of the main reasons why we're here today.
Q. Cam, you're there between two guys with tons of experience in this league, have you gotten to a point yet where you've pinched yourself to realize you're in the Stanley Cup Finals?
CAM WARD: I've said all along I don't want to pinch myself quite yet. Obviously we're having the ride of our life here and doing everything I can to enjoy it.
But, you know, I did get some playoff experience at the junior level and last season in the American Hockey League. I realize it's a whole different level, but at the same time I'm trying to use that and carry it on over to this stage.
Q. Cam and Doug, you both have allegiances to Edmonton for various reasons, growing up there or playing there, and I just wonder if both of you could reflect on what it's going to feel like to go to that arena and play for the Stanley Cup on this team.
CAM WARD: Well, I think it's definitely exciting to have the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup in your hometown. I think it's something that you definitely dream about as a young kid.
You know, it doesn't seem like long ago that I was there watching as a fan and cheering on the Oilers. This will be a first for myself to have the opportunity to play on the ice. It's something I'm definitely looking forward to.
DOUG WEIGHT: Yeah, me as well. Cam told me how old he was when he was watching the Dallas series. (Laughter) Took me aback for a couple days. (Laughter).
You know, you never look ahead in this game. Every team, every series is huge and things can sway. But it was hard not to look ahead and just think of what could happen playing these guys. It was difficult at first but the last three, four days since their win, I'm just at ease with it. I'm excited about going back. I think it's a special place. I was there eight and a half years, great organization, great people I've met in the training staff, great team, Mac-T, Kevin Lowe.
It's going to be special. I'm nervous about the first game, but I don't care how many games you have under your belt, it's going to be exciting. It's going to be a loud building, great atmosphere. You know, as a team we talk about never looking back and regretting a minute of a shift or a game. We plan on not worrying about where we're playing. We're going to go out and play our opponent and play our game.
Q. For both Rod and Doug, Eric Staal told me yesterday that you two guys, plus I think Mark Recchi have done a very good job in helping him deal with the pressure of being looked at as the main offensive guy in the playoffs, what is it you guys told him to expect or how to deal with things?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: To be honest, with Eric I haven't had to say much to him at all ever, all year. He sits besides me and doesn't ask much. Occasionally I give him a couple little things that I see, but the kid doesn't need anything. I'm almost going to ask him for stuff. (Laughter).
You see how he plays and just doesn't look like a first-timer in the playoffs, that's for sure. You know, I haven't honestly given him a word of advice at all, so he's just deflecting that. He's taking it all on himself.
DOUG WEIGHT: Did you want me to add to that?
Q. Oh, sure. Do you talk to him at least?
DOUG WEIGHT: I just told him, you'd better score every game. I just told him what a horse he is and how great he is.
I've said this a couple of times, since I've gotten here, I have been so impressed with our young guys, Cam and you can go through the list of our guys, Tommy is a little older, but Justin Williams, these guys, Andrew Ladd, it's like they have been here in the league for eight or ten years, and maybe that's just being on such a great team all year with great leadership and winning so many games. Eric, come third period, in all our big games, he's absolutely taken the ball and lugged the puck down the ice, created opportunities every shift. I don't think his numbers even show how great he's played. He's not a 21- or 22-year-old. He just goes out and there's really not a lot you have to say. I just kind of let him know how great I think he is as a player and how this is a great chance for him.
Q. I know you guys touched on this, Rod and Doug, but I'm curious to get your opinion, if you can really put more into perspective on how unified this team is, it was evident with the Prince of Wales trophy, normally it's the captain, the whole team comes over, can you talk about how tight this group is and how you've done a lot of things away from the ice, as well?
CAM WARD: Personally for myself, being in my rookie season, I think the guys have really done an excellent job with making me feel at home and really bringing me in. You know, when you're surrounded with a bunch of guys who have been there and done that and are more than willing to help you along the way, I think that's all you can ask for.
You know, you look at our lineup and we have some young guys and we have some veteran guys that have really been able to gel together and I think it's just really exciting to come to the rink every day and know that everybody is here to have some fun and work hard at the same time.
DOUG WEIGHT: I'll let Rod answer. Since I got here it's been great.
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: A lot of credit -- a lot of corny stuff, but it's stuff involving your kids, your dad, so it's more -- it touches more than just, you know, my kids or his dad. So it's become more of -- I think you start to feel more for the guy because you know more about him. It's not just about coming to the rink at whatever time the game is and you go home. You know more about him, his family and I think that's been a huge part of it as well.
Q. Rod, what have you seen in this market and the attitude towards hockey since you've been here? You've gone through a lot of up-and-downs, can you talk about that a little bit.
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: It's been a huge change the first day I got here. The first year the team was in Raleigh, I think they had 8,000 fans at the first game that I was at. That's pretty -- you know, to see it now change, it's a loud building, the people are enthusiastic. Hockey has been here six, seven years. It didn't exist as a sport pretty much. It's come a long way.
Now, you can't go anywhere without being noticed or without people obviously behind you. It's a small town, small town feel, but you know, we're entrenched in the community now and we're becoming a big part of it and it's exciting to see growth. And I'm proud of it, actually because I've been here when it started out.
Q. Characterize, the two teams playing each other here, have no common opponents anymore in the NHL, you haven't had hockey last year and you haven't played each other in forever, how are the people out here supposed to figure out who is favored, who is going to win and what the strengths and weaknesses are?
DOUG WEIGHT: I think you just have to go to Danny Sheridan and see what he says. (Laughter) He's usually pretty close to right.
I don't know, I said it earlier today, I feel like watching the playoffs and playing in this room, I think the two best teams are in the Finals, the way they played I feel like we both deserve to be here. That might be a dumb statement, obviously we're here, but I feel like it's the two teams that deserve it the most, the two teams playing with the most confidence, getting the best goaltending, getting timely goals and playing big in the big games. I think you're going to see some great -- I think what Rod said about the loud building, you guys are going to have a blast. It's going to be four to seven games of loud, exciting atmosphere. There's going to be a lot of physical play. Both teams are going to want to get in and set the tone physically. We don't get a lot of credit for wanting to do that but it's a mainstay in our game plan.
Both teams like to skate and I think we're going to be seeing some great hockey. If you're trying to get a favorite from me, I ain't going to go there, but I feel great -- when we play our game, every guy in our room believes we should win. If you ask them that, I'm sure they will say the same thing and that's why we're the last two standing.
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