June 13, 1999
BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Practice Day
Q. Jamie, as a young player, I just wanted ask you about the influence or the impact of watching guys like Carbonneau, Keane, Skrudland, what they have been through in their career, the impact they have on the team in the dressing room?
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: I think we will real fortunate on this team to have guys like that. There is a big group of them starting with Carbo and Luddy, and guys like Joe and Dave Reid they have been there; they know how to act; how to play; how to handle themselves, us younger guys on the team have great advantage over other players that we have a that ability to see these guys and the privilege to watch these guys play and how they act.
Q. Joe since you have been in this situation before Lindy and his players today expressed that they are looking at Game 4 as Game 7. Can you just comment on that if you guys are looking at it the same way?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: I think so. I think we have looked at every game as Game 7 that is the way our team gets prepared to play and obviously they are going to feel that way too. Every game has been a real tough battle out there and there hasn't been a lot of room and it is just the way teams are going at each other. There is strong commitment by both teams to not make a mistake and that is just the type of hockey you are seeing out there.
Q. Your coach talked about your return, your will to win after the adversity you faced the last couple of years. I just wanted to see more along the lines of through your career and growing up and stuff, where this will to win came from and is it a parent, a coach, a teammate that gave it to you?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: Well, I think I was very fortunate when I first started in my career too, I was on a pretty successful Calgary team back in the late '80s we had a strong leadership group back then too. It really taught me the value of hard work and what it takes to get to this level and I think just over my career you realize how tough it is to get back to this situation. When you do get back you want to take full advantage of it and just play for your teammates every night and play hard.
Q. Dave, you are a Toronto boy; grew up around the game here; you are now well into your career, two, albeit, difficult victories away from the Stanley Cup. Tough nut not to get excited?
DAVE REID: No question, tough sleeping last night being in this situation the farthest I have been in the Playoffs, so knowing what is at stake, you know, it is tough shutting it down at night sometimes thinking about it, but fortunately on days off you have to do things that take your mind off it so that you can mentally rest and start preparing, you know, the next day to play the games, but I am just trying to enjoy it as much as I can being in the first time situation; it has been great. I have loved every minute of it so far. I can worry about the rest after June 23rd type of thing.
Q. Darryl, Coach Hitchcock was saying you might see some time up front in the next game; just wondering what your thoughts are on that and second question is for Jamie and just if you could talk about -- a little bit about the learning process and some of those meetings that you had with Coach Hitchcock and just the maturing process to getting to the point where you are really emerging now and being a key player here?
DARRYL SYDOR: Well, I think -- obviously I don't think I changed my game that much. I have been in this situation before last year and this year a little bit, so I try and keep up on everything that we do throughout video, both forward and "D", it is just going to be like having another defensemen out there just playing a few feet up. I guess in my mind it will be a defensive role. That is what I do on the back end and that is what I will do on the front. Whoever is with -- if it's Modano and Lehtinen, obviously those guys will be the offensive people and I will just hang back and not let any rushes happen. If there is opportunities, just bring hard work to the line. That is what my game is.
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: I have had Coach Hitchcock here for about four years here and the Minors and stuff and I have been around him so, he has helped me along the way. He is a demanding coach that expects the best from his players and he doesn't accept anything less. He has helped me grow as a player and pushed me along, you are right, he is -- sometimes he gets a little bumpy, you know, sometimes you don't like getting the extra push once in a while, but I think all and all, when you look back on it, it is definitely what I needed.
Q. Joe, can you go back to you are 22 years old; you win the Stanley Cup. Back then did you think this was going to be easy and also could you sort of recount what is going through your mind last year as you watched your team lose to the Red Wings in the Conference Finals?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: When you are 22 years old and you have the type of success that our team had, you think that it is maybe going to happen year after year, or at least, you know, be competitive in that way. But I really don't remember -- I remember that winning the Cup and what it feels like and the run, but it was such a long time ago and it happened so fast that I am really trying to absorb much more of this run being older an wiser. But you are right, it is a situation where you think it is going to happen and just makes you appreciate it all the more when you do get back here again. Obviously it was difficult leaving the Playoffs the way I did, very frustrating and knowing how hard my teammates were, were pushing to get to the Conference Finals against Detroit. It was very frustrating not being a part of it; not being able to help them. But it is gone and it is a new season and here we are, so what can you say.....
Q. Just talk a little bit also more about the rehab you went through, what your daily routine was maybe a year ago from right now and sort of also a lot of your teammates have said the exact words: He is on a mission this year, talk about that.
JOE NIEUWENDYK: I was forced to find out how hot it was in Dallas all summer, that is for sure. It was a tough summer, you know, I won't lie about that. A lot of mornings just rehabbing the knees, going down to the clinic and it took a while, but, you know, I think I really stayed focused. Once our season ended last year against Detroit it was kind of like a new beginning for me that I could start to get ready and get myself in a position where I could come back and play again this year. That was my focus all summer. I didn't venture from it, and as the season went on this year, I started to feel better and better with my knees and just kind of around the All-Star brake that I really started to see bigger and bigger strides in my improvement.
Q. I know lifting weights and stuff, but I mean, was there anything strange exercises they made you do or anything that was particularly grueling?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: Nothing really -- probably the most grueling part was trying to get my range of motion back. But other than that, just the regular routine of lifting weights and the advantage I had in some ways was that I had both knees done so that could I work out, kind of compare the two as I was going along in my rehab rather than just doing one leg. I was real lucky.
Q. For Jamie and Joe, Coach Hitchcock was just talking about the chemistry that you three guys seem to have and especially right now when your team needs a line to step up you guys have been able to do it. Chemistry is a hard thing to describe, but can you at all describe the success your line has had?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: I think so. I think, you know, we started out with Benoit Hogue who did a great job for us that until he got hurt, but tell you when you add a 245 pound guy on your left side, he is pretty hard to move out there and he is not 245, but -- (LAUGHTER) (laughs) but he -- you know, Dave has done a great job for us. He is a big man. He is hard to move and he has created a lot of attention to himself and it allows Jamie and I to free-wheel and make plays and get to the net. I just think we are really working for each other. We talk about it object the bench a lot, and I think the key is that we are working away from the puck for one another and we are able to get good opportunities at the net.
Q. Jamie, you have been kind of a play-making center a lot of your career and you have had a chance to score a few goals as a winger in this tournament. Do you get a bigger kick out of scoring a goal or making a nice pass like you did the other night to Joe on the winning goal?
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: I think I get a bigger kick out of winning. It really doesn't matter how as long as you come out and do your job, if it's scoring a goal or make an assist or making a great block shot, I think it is just a kick out of winning. I don't think really any of us cares who scores the goals and I think that is the main port of our success right now is nobody does care and everybody is just going out and doing what they have to do to help the team win.
Q. Darryl and Dave Reid, before you guys came in here the coach hinted that one of the challenge of coaching this team is a lot of veteran players who have a lot of strong opinions and that as a coach that becomes a challenge back in January or even maybe it was before that there was a story out of Phoenix where there was rebellions in the dressing room against the coach and I know that was dismissed since, but can you tell us and I know Dave you have seen some strange things in dressing room having played in Toronto, but can you tell us, you know, really how much friction there was there and is it almost helpful in some ways?
DARRYL SYDOR: Well, that will all come out after we are all gone what really happened. We all know that -- I mean, nothing obviously did happen and we all just some kind of looked at it and laughed. There were some jokes made and stuff happened, pucks shot at them and stuff, but it was all -- it was just in fun after that. We had fun and I think it brings our team together. That is just little things that people try and get in your kitchen and, you know, it was just -- we had a lot of -- we just looked at it -- we knew what was going on and we were -- I think that it just brings the -- it brings to the attention the chemistry of our team that nothing can really break us then and it just made our team stronger mentally and brought us together. Like I say, it is just little things throughout the year that happened like that and whether it is play or in the paper or whatever, our team stuck together and it is just little adversity we faced to get to this point.
Q. For Darryl and Coach Hitchcock, can you talk about people who might not have seen the Stars all season how important shot-blocking is to your team and your team's success?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Biggest thing is that the shot-blocking isn't -- isn't the idea where you are going out to actually block the shot. It is protecting the critical area. There are critical areas that we are asking our players that nothing gets through, whether it is blocking it with your body, blocking it with your stick, pushing out from certain angles, we spend time with that. We spend a lot of time with that. We view that as an offensive tool. We view that as if we can frustrate the opposition, we can make them gamble; make them push harder than they want to push, then we can counterattack quickly. We view protecting that critical area of the ice as something that is going to give us more offensive opportunities because when you -- offensively I know what players feel like, when you can't go in the areas that you want to go into becomes very frustrating at times. We view that as the ability, if we make the team draw more people into the areas that they want to go into, then it is going to give us those odd-man rushes that we need.
DARRYL SYDOR: I think from players' standpoint that get -- I know getting shots blocked is frustrating. I think being on our defense and our forwards, I don't think we go out to make a point of blocking shots. It is just a reaction thing. Obviously you watch a guy like Craig Ludwig and Richard Matvichuk and these guys that do it really well, you just feed off it and you just -- if you have the opportunity, you block it, but we are not going out of the way as a defensemen, you don't really want to go down and take yourself out of the play. But there are some opportunities where you just have to. It is just -- there is a time and -- time for it; just seems that we do it at the right time. Our forwards do it at the right time too as we saw last night.
Q. Jamie, we have heard from Joe about the chemistry that you two guys have, but I'd like to hear from you as a young player and the goals you guys have been combining on will probably be the memories of the 1999 Playoffs. How are you growing trying to get into his head figuring out what he is going to do next?
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: I think that is fortunate thing we have right now is we seem to know where each other is going and to be on the same page. We talk about it on the bench, like Joe said, and we are -- we have a pretty narrow focus right now of just keeping it pretty simple. We are not doing anything too fancy. We are just working hard and we got a big guy like Dave, like he said, and we are pretty good at working in the corners and cycling it and that is what our focus is right now to do that and trying to wear down the defensemen down there and get it into the net. We are not making any triple drop pass goals here. It is all pretty much bang hard work at the net and scoring our goals from there.
Q. Joe, during last year sometimes obviously to get through the pain and the boredom there was a visualization of something ahead. Is some of that visualization being here not necessarily in this room, but --
JOE NIEUWENDYK: I guess in some ways I maybe thought in that way. I realize that we were building something pretty positive here in Dallas the last two, three years, and as disappointing as it was last year I knew coming into this season that we were going to have as good a team, if not better and when we added Brett Hull, I mean, obviously there was a commitment by ownership to make our team better and I just naturally figured that we would be somewhere around this position again a year ago. So that is certainly made my rehab process go a lot smoother.
Q. I am wondering even though you guys outplayed them and won the game last night, outshot them, are you concerned with the amount of time you guys spent in the penalty box?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Just Modano, he was gooning it up pretty good yesterday, so (laughter). Actually, not really. I mean, you know what, a lot of that felt like Game 1 where I think we were frustrated because we couldn't score in the powerplay and I think it took our energy out too, just like it did Buffalo's. I just -- I think our team really loves to play 5-on-5 hockey and the more we can stay 5-on-5 the better we feel it is for us, we can roll four lines, we can stay in that focus, and that is our goal. I think the game -- from higher up, I am not sure if you can tell, but from down on the bench, this is a very emotional game the two teams are playing against each other. There is a tremendous, tremendous amount of passion out there and sometimes it overflows. I think you have just got to be able to fight through those things. They have had some areas where it has overflowed with them. We have had it with ours, but not really. I mean, the only point penalty that concerned me was the one on Hrkac, I thought that was really unjustified and wasn't a call that I agreed with, hopefully the NHL says the same thing. But they won't, so.....
Q. Joe, your line's success seems to come late this games, why is that? Mental wearing down of your opponents as much as anything?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: Possibly. I just think we stick with it. We were talking about it last night the first period there was a lot of penalties, so we didn't get a lot of 5-on-5 time, but we just continue to talk to each other on the bench, make sure that we are ready and focused for when we do get out there. I think we get better and better as the game goes on. We started to play a little more 5-on-5 the second and third periods and then you get into a bit of a rhythm and eventually we started to spend a lot of quality time in their end and get some opportunities, so I just think it is our ability to just stick with it.
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