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May 15, 2007
OTTAWA, ONTARIO: Practice Day
Q. Mr. Murray, you've been to some other finals in other roles. I wonder if you could cast your mind ahead, Bryan, what does the city go through if it makes the finals of the NHL, both emotionally and economically, perhaps?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I've been in Florida and Anaheim. They weren't really at that time cities that like Ottawa; Fort Lauderdale, Miami, widespread group of people and Orange County. Basically up in Anaheim, but you find a lot of people, that at least been real serious fans in those other areas that get onboard, get excited, and I think in the restaurant/bar business benefits a great deal. There's no question about that.
I think in this city, it's quite different in that many, many people are related somehow or other to the game. And I just drove a friend back after - during the New Jersey series to the market area, and there were lineups at all the different restaurants and bars late at night, and I didn't get in because of the lineup (laughter). But it looked like there were a lot of people with Senator sweaters on and people coming from the game. So I'm sure it has a big impact on the economy in the area.
Q. Emotionally in the finals?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: There's no question, when you tie yourself to a team, baseball, hockey, whatever it may be, there's a big commitment you've made, and obviously you walk around with your head a little higher, I think, when your team is performing well.
Q. Bryan, a lot of players are at various levels of their careers. You get to this point of the finals, there's this pressure that they've never maybe felt before, a lot of them. Are you seeing a different aspect of their personalities at this point?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We're not to the finals yet. We have to win another game. Very definitely it's a big commitment on the part of players to get to the level we're hoping to get to. But, no, I don't think there's a big difference that I've seen other than that they come in and they're paying attention more now. They're very committed to it. But it doesn't matter if they're outward going or very private, they just seem to be all one at this point in time.
Q. People already talking about this, but how tough is it to keep your composure and focus about that game tomorrow?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think that's the biggest thing we have to know, you know, that winning the next game is always what you have to worry about, and that's all we're really looking at right now. We know that last night 1-0 hockey game, every game in this series has been for the most part very close in score, and we just have to focus, and that's all we're trying to do.
We brought our guys in this morning for that reason as much as anything, showed them some of the clips from the game last night, and we'll just try to prepare as best we can as we've been doing all along and worry about Buffalo. We're not - there's nothing beyond that at this point in time.
Q. Bryan, back to the town a little bit. You obviously know the history well, the fans have been brought to high expectation many times and hasn't come through. This is a town that the media - they got a lot of Toronto media live in the Leafs' shadow. Can you speak to a town that's finally getting their due after paying a lot of dues to get here.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Fortunately I haven't been here through all the other parts of it. I was here last year when the expectations were quite high. There's no doubt about that.
I'm sure it's been repeated many times, and I don't have to repeat it. We've just - all I know is today, people, I think the players are - believe in themselves, and I think that translates into the community, getting a feel that this is a different group, this is a good group, and really that's all that I care to get involved in.
I know there's - I've read as - as I said, I learned so much about history after I moved to Ottawa it was incredible, hockey history, anyway. I just - I think enough has been said about that.
Q. Bryan, Alfie was talking last night about new skates, new equipment helping turn his season around. Did you see any - I'm sure there's more to it than that. Did you see any soul-searching in him?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Over the course of time because he's the Captain, we've had many conversations. I mean, that's part of my job and his job is to communicate. I know he's very particular about his skates. I don't think that's the only reason why he's playing different now. It's maybe a little bit of the reason.
I think the bigger thing is that he's just a totally committed athlete that has a better group surrounding him - not talent-wise but effort-wise, and I think he's leading the way through hard work and determination. And definitely the experience he's gone through here, the adversity that he faced even early this year, is helping him at this point in time.
Q. Bryan, can I ask you how your team has gone about making the best offensive team in the league look so ordinary? And tied to that, how did you rate last night's defensive effort by your club center?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I'm not sure how we've done it other than effort. I think we've spoken enough, a lot about how we have to play with the puck. I think the biggest job you have as a coach is you have to allow your good players to be good players with the puck, but they have the allow the coach to make them or encourage them to be good without the puck.
And I think our guys have really made a huge commitment, latter part year and certainly in the playoffs, to playing hard to put the puck in the right spot, to finish their checks as often as they can, and then my responsibility then would be to when they have a chance to attack, to allow them to take a chance once in a while.
They've done a good job of kind of taking responsibility in both areas, and it certainly was a very, very good defensive effort. They worked hard, they played hard, they blocked shots. Really kept the puck to the outside for the biggest part of the game. So I have to rate it as one of the good ones, certainly this year and maybe in a long time.
Q. Bryan, a lot has been said about Alfredsson. Can you put into perspective maybe his importance on this team and a lot times in the regular season, maybe he wasn't the best player but maybe the most important player?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: He was the most important player and the best player a lot of nights because I moved him around more than anybody. When I needed a checking line, a lot of nights I put him with Kelly and Vermette or I put him with Fisher for awhile. To me, he's been the example of good work, hard work.
I don't know that there are many nights I went into the room and said to the coach or anybody else, "Alfredsson didn't try hard tonight." I say that about a few other players on occasions. He's been the example all along. Now, getting him to play with two skill guys is really, you know, kind of lit the fire for them as well.
Q. Is it tough for you to put them back together? I know you didn't want to do it for most of the year and now you consider yourself a genius?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No, I never do that. I know if we lose, I'll be less than a genius. I understand that. So I was worried about putting them together. I really was. I thought that, you know, if I had Alfie separate, in particular against New Jersey they were so adamant about matchups that they might be able to shut us down more than we wanted to be. Fortunately, we left it alone. I just didn't tinker at all, and they stepped up and did a real good job.
But there's always a pressure of who else will score on this hockey team, and last night is an example. We had many chances to score goals. We get one only, and so we need better balance on that in our offense.
Q. Bryan, what it's going to take for the coach of the Senators to get into restaurants in town?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I'll have to drop a name of one of the guys in town here. There's no question about that (laughter), say I know the players.
Q. There's a sense that this series from like if you compare the two series that the roles have been reversed. Do you see that? I mean, just the way things have played out?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, somewhat. I mean, the fact that we were able to win Game 1 in their building was a big, big plus, where last year they came in here and we scored lots of goals, and I remember the play. They tied the game up and we went right on the - on a shorthanded play on the same power play go out and Smolinski and Alfredsson teamed up and score right away.
I looked at the clock. I think there was a minute ten left. I said maybe, maybe we can hang on and win this thing, and, of course, we didn't.
So I think that there's that similarity. I think we're quite a different team than we were last year. We've quite a different people. Beyond that it's not for me to make that judgment other than I know our commitment to play the game right is much, much better.
Q. Bryan, how big would it be not only to get to the finals but to get there in four games?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I think there aren't many teams over the history of the league that, I don't think, I'm not a great historian, but that have done it, and it would be quite an accomplishment for this group.
Q. Bryan, I meant as far as the rest.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I thought you were just talking about performance. I hope it means something. The only problem is - and there's benefits and disadvantages to it. Depends how the other series goes.
My recognition of when we played New Jersey and I was in Anaheim, we had 11 days off. We couldn't play the first two games. We had no chance in the first two games, no legs, no willingness to make contact. And only after we played those two games and went back home did we start to play a little bit like we were capable of playing. It does have benefits if you have injured players, but there's some negatives as well.
Q. Bryan, is there a relation - you've been saying all along that your team is completely different and everybody is saying that your team is winning, playing a lot better defensively since Christmas. The fact that the team wasn't playing well in the first few months, was it anything to do with the fact that Chara is gone, Chara not been there, you have to change the old defense of the team and the players have to do more or change their role, something like that?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Maybe. You know, that's certainly part of it. I think he had a lot of ice time here last year. He had a priority role as a defenseman. He played some on the power play. So he did take a lot of minutes, 28, probably 28, 29 minutes. You would still love to have him on your team. But we knew - this is where you have players - we had the injuries, everybody knew they had to make a bigger commitment.
When people come back and we got better. A couple players got opportunities that they wouldn't have gotten if a guy like Chara or have SRA HRAOE would have been here. If they don't step up when given the opportunity, then there's no benefit. Volchenkov stepped up and did it. Chris Phillips took over the number one defensive role on this hockey team, and he did it. It made them feel better, more important, and they stepped up and the whole team kind of followed along. I feel and so - so you have to have the right character for that type of thing to happen.
Q. Bryan, can you talk about over last couple of months, you talked about the lessons you guys learned throughout the year. The fact that you were playing very meaningful games up until the last game of the regular season, whereas a year ago you got off to such a great start, how important was that for this team to be playing critical games down the stretch?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, from getting a message across, there's no question, it's easier to coach a team that has to work hard and play disciplined every night to make the playoffs than it is to have a team where you tell the guys you've got to do this - come playoff time, if you don't do this, you're not going win, when they're winning it almost every night.
We had that last year where we had games, I'd go in the room and be upset about giving up two, three goals in a period. We'd go out and score two, three goals the next period and win the hockey game. Everybody is patting everybody on the back.
This year it's been easier to get the message across because of a little shortage of talent for awhile, the injuries and having to play hard to stay up with some of the teams. We tried to get ahead of Pittsburgh. That was a real battle down the stretch, and so that helped you us. There's no question.
Q. Bryan, is the media are cruel sometimes?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Really? I never realized that (laughter).
Q. I'm sure you didn't. Last year we heard a lot of times, I kept hearing it this year, that Bryan Murray has never one won anything like Phil Mickelson in golf before he won a major finally. You're now five victories away to shut us out, to get rid of that reputation.
I know you like to talk about your players, about your team, about the goaltender. You don't talk much about yourself. How do you feel about that?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I've always - I said this many times, I have felt the teams I coached played really well. They were very competitive. I even coached - if you remember, I've coached Washington for eight years. First year I was there, we were not a very good hockey team. The next year from then on we had around 100 points. Unfortunately we ran into the Islanders a couple years that we had the good team and they knocked us out. We outshoot them two to one or whatever it may be. They end up winning the Stanley Cup, and we go out in the first, second round.
Went to Anaheim. The team was no good. I was in Detroit when we were trying to rebuild, and there they were a couple years away from winning anything.
You get knocked, rightly so, when you're in the business a long time and you don't win the cup, you're a coach, it's an easy story, but I feel about this group as I have about a few groups. They work hard. They have character. They're blue collar to an extent.
I can talk about players in the past that helped me a great deal. I think I've learned more about coaching. We do lots of good things now that we didn't do probably back in the '80s or whatever it may be, but I'm real pleased with this group. When they buy in and Ray - we have a goaltender like Ray Emery that nobody gives a lot of applause to but has done a really good job and have a core of guys that work as hard as they do, as a coach that's what you're proud of. You're proud of guys doing what you think are capable of doing, and that's been my agenda all the way through. That's part of why I came back to Ottawa. I wanted a chance again to coach a team that was set up to a point where they had a chance at least.
Q. Just back to the fans for a second. Besides being a coach, I presume you're a big fan of the game as well, and as a fan you know what it's like watching your team get this close to the finals, and you're excited but nervous, which is my sense of how people are in Ottawa.
I wonder what advice you have for fans who were here before and they want to be excited but they are nervous because they've been to the edge?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We're all nervous. We all want to win but enjoy the moment. You can't do anything about what's happening in the future. I can't worry about the past. Just enjoy the moment, come to the game, have some fun with it. Sit on the edge of your seat. Hope that we win and try to buy a ticket to the Stanley Cup Final if we do win.
Q. Bryan, can you speak to the challenges or the potential hazards when you coach a team that - where expectations around that team become so immense, people see them as the Stanley Cup favorite by Christmas, like you guys last year, like Buffalo this year.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: It's hard. You're judged too harshly. Too often. There are no guarantees in this business. It doesn't matter if you've got all the talent or whatever. It's the makeup of your team, it's great goaltending, it's luck, calls in a game, referee calls in a game.
There's so many things that come into play that it's hard to predict. I listened to all the predictions before the playoffs started. Not many people really thought that Ottawa were a contender, and that made us play in a position where the pressure was less. There's no question about that.
Q. Coach, you had Scott Stevens at the beginning of his career. When you when you see him and Volchenkov, do you see these guys having the kind of impact on these teams later in their careers?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, Scott Stevens at 18 was an emotional guy I had and that was one of the reasons early on we were close but not close. Because he was 18, 19 when we played The Islanders in some of the big games and they knew how get him off track. But he became certainly a superstar defenseman. Great with the puck. Great leader. Had an outstanding career.
Anton won't have the puck skills probably that Scott Stevens will have. He won't be a power play guy in all likelihood because I don't think Alfie will let him out there on the power play, but he will be an impact player.
His a career is going to go from here. I think he's not only to get recognition, he's going to get great confidence from this run. We know defensively there's not many guys now in the league that play better than he does. So I think he's going to have a chance to be a champion several times over without a doubt.
Q. Daniel, the fact that you guys have won three games, you're up 3-0 in this series, and yet you found it important to go out on the ice for an optional skate. Is it just too much fun to be away from the ring or what's the deal?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. I was debating if I was going to go on the ice or go on the stationary bike, and it is more fun being on the ice. So, you know, 15 minutes out there isn't much, but you get a little sweat so you get a good stretch and I feel loose.
Q. I was talking to Bryan Murray a few minutes ago. He has the reputation of the coach who never won. I mean, he's built good teams, but he's now five victories away to get rid of that reputation. You've been with him for a few years now. Is it good for you also to see him get rid of that reputation finally?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. I mean, I guess I didn't know much about him before he came here, to be honest, because I don't think he coached much since I came into the league. It's more been in the front office. He's had a big impact on this team from the day he came here, and I think he's really put his fingerprints on us. And throughout the year, I think the coaching staff has done a great job with us. Especially when we went through the tough times in November and December, you know, he really kind of calmed us down and realized that's it's important not only in hockey but in life, and we just try to go out there and play hard and do everything you can.
He really believed in us. I think that gave us a lot of confidence.
Q. Daniel, successful playoff teams have to have contributions from players throughout the lineup. I wonder if you could discuss, please, your fourth line and what those players are doing this playoff. Thank you.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. I think they're playing hard every shift. They're making the most of their ice time. No question. It's a tough situation at times, not getting a lot of ice time, but when they do, they go. They know what they have to do. They finish checks, they skate hard, and I think they're getting better and better as the playoffs has gone on here. There's no question on that. They chipped in with some great shifts and goals, and they've drawn some penalties, but the biggest thing is their work ethic and attitude.
Q. Daniel, you've been here for long enough to know obviously most of the history and the highs and the failures. Do you think any of that contributes to how things have gone this year, in other words, certain teams have to fail a few times, several times in order to win?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think, you know, it helps you out in understanding - we have a few guys been through most of the playoffs here, and you appreciate that, you know, first, it's tough to get into the playoffs, and when you have a good chance, you want to make the most of it, and I think we just go out there and try to give it everything we have.
I don't think we worry too much about our reputation, but we see great opportunity here, and we did that, you know, from day one, and we believe that we can beat a team to go all the way, and maybe it won't happen every time, but we felt good about our chances.
Q. Has there been a difference from last year when the expectations were through the roof and this year when everybody just seems so much more calm?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I think it is different in the way that the whole season, how it transpired. I think we did face a lot of adversity throughout the year, and I think we kind of became closer as a group because of it. And I think we know if you go out there and work extremely hard and give ourselves a chance by playing smart - we're a tough team to beat.
We felt that going into the playoffs, and, you know, we don't take anything for granted. We know we have to work for everything, and I think that attitude has - it's a big reason for our success so far.
Q. You guys have been where the Sabres are, down three in the series. What do you think they're thinking and what do you expect from them tomorrow night?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: They're going to try to focus one game at a time. They have nothing to lose now. They're just going to try to go in and play hard, and I'm sure they're going to play looser than maybe they did yesterday, but that doesn't change our attitude. I think we're going to try to be strong as a five-man unit when we're out there, all four lines, playing smart and playing hard and physical.
Q. You've been surrounded by this kind of scenario for a couple weeks now, pregame, after the games, has there been an opportunity for you to step away from the situation and to look at what's going on and to enjoy what is going on and how you guys are playing? Because while many people don't want to talk about it, there's something different in the air here, especially people who have been here a couple of years to see that something different and that you can enjoy some of this.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Little bit, but it's the same thing, don't want to get caught up in it. You've got to stay humble and in the present, and we've done a lot of great things so far, and we'd like to keep it going. I think the greatest feeling we have is going out there and working hard, you know. I think everybody is doing that, and it feeds off to everybody else.
So, you know, I don't think we enjoy it as much now as I think once it's over, but, you know you're so caught up in everything, preparations and, you know, staying in the present.
Q. You've been here a long time, Daniel. Can you speak to the fans who have been through, you know, taken to this place - to these expectations many times and they never get there and the team that was beating you was the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. How much does it feel now to be a fans of the Sens finally after all that these and start to get a little payback?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think they brought their A-game this year as well. They've been the big reason why we had a good home record in the playoffs. I think they've definitely shown their support, and there's no question, you know, this has been a great hockey community since I've been here, and I think, you know, we've had some real tough playoff disappointments.
But overall, I think this franchise has been very successful anyway, under the circumstances, you know. Even before there was a salary cap, we had a very tight salary cap before that. We didn't have the opportunity maybe to spend like some Detroit or New York did to really build, you know, through free agency.
We had to draft real well and, you know, the scouts who were here, are here, has done a remarkable job to put us where we are now, too.
Q. Daniel, with the way your team has played, you've made them almost a shell of what they used to be even a month ago or whatever. Can you tell they're uptight? Can you see it in their eyes? Are you surprised they're playing so uptight?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't know if I can tell they're uptight. I think they're trying their hardest. There's no question. I think, you know, we haven't given them as much time as maybe they had watching one or two games against the Rangers where they sat back much more and they had time to handle the puck and make things happen.
You know, we know they're a very skilled team. So that's what we try to take away from them, the time and space. So far we've done a pretty good job.
Q. Alfie, did winning the World and the Olympic gold change your mindset of what it took to win a championship in the playoffs?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: No. I can't say - it feels good to have won on the big stage, so to say, but it didn't change, you know, my approach to how I think I should play or - you know, but winning breeds confidence, no question.
Q. You went through a lot this year. You were moved around from line to line. Obviously your offense suffered a bit because you weren't playing with Spezza and Heatley. Did you ever wonder why you went through it with Ottawa sometimes?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Say again.
Q. Did you ever want to be out from Ottawa and wonder why -
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: No. I was as frustrated as anybody else. I wasn't playing very well. So, I mean, there's no hard feelings towards anyone. That's why it was good for me now to play at the level I know I am capable of, have been capable of. It's been frustrating not just like not just last year but a few years before that.
So I always dreamt about winning a Cup here, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Q. Was there a sigh of relief last night when you won the game and went up 3-0 in the series to say, "Well, we're there"?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, not a sigh of relief, but it was a great feeling because we worked very hard the whole game and we only had one goal to show for it. It's always dangerous. Buffalo tied up some games late and, you know, we're playing so well. Maybe disappointing for them to get one at the end. We took a couple penalties. It was just a great relief, you know, pulling that one off at the end.
Q. What did your son think of his podium time last night, and was it a special moment for you?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, it was kind of neat. I think he still doesn't understand really what dad really does. He plays hockey, but, you know, he was probably a little tired last night, but this morning he said, he told me it was fun to come to the hockey ring.
He's been here on a few days off, but usually he wants to go in the hot tub (laughter). It's kind of nice for me to be able to, you know, take him to the rink and show him off, even though he probably won't remember when he's 20, but I feel good about it.
Q. What's the secret you have your penalty kills doing really, really well against Buffalo?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Pressure I think is the biggest thing. I think you see most teams, especially that are left now, pressure is a lot. Don't give the power play a lot of time and especially, you know, if you know it's second half of the period, the ice is not as good, you really want them to force things, force them to make plays.
If they're going to beat you, they have to make two, three great plays and tip your hat to them but really pressure them. That's what Buffalo did to us yesterday. They pressured more than they have been in the previous games.
End of FastScripts