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June 5, 2007

Randy Carlyle


JAMEY HORAN: Questions for the Coach.

Q. Randy, with Scott Niedermayer being the only player on your team who has won a Cup, could you talk a little bit about the contributions he's made to this point with his leadership and experience, and also how much you would expect that to come into play tomorrow night to keep your team grounded and focused at the task at hand?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Again, when you have the experience that he has had in pressure situations, it's not just the Stanley Cup playoffs. He's been in Olympic gold medal games, he's been in world championships gold medal games, and major junior title games. It's his whole demeanor that's a calming effect.
It's not necessarily one thing or another. He's not a real vocal individual. What you see is what you get is what you get with Scotty. And I think he would rather not talk in most situations. He's the kind of guy that likes to be private, but he leads by example.
When he does talk, he has that calming effect. He's not volatile in any way, shape or form. He's more monotone and lays it on the line and says how he feels. For our group, as I stated before, he has that ability of being not only the voice of calm, but his play has demonstrated that he can take pressure situations and diffuse them with his skating ability. That's what he does, specifically, if you look at instances five-on-three, four-on-three killing penalties; when it's harry out there, he has the ability to take the puck and move it to a place where most players would be sloppy in a way and try to dump it out.
He has an uncanny hockey sense, ability to do that. And his skating is as equal to that ability that he shows mentally.

Q. At this time of any series, those of us out here start to talk about who might be a candidate, the way it's going; I don't expect you to vote or anything, but is it a compliment to your team that no one player really seems to stand out as the for sure shoe-in guy; there's several candidates?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We've talked about our team and we've talked about when you have success as a team, there's always certain individuals that get recognition than others, be it the goals or defensive aspect of it.
But we've made a commitment and the players have made a commitment more to the understanding that everybody's contribution needs to be valued, needs to be raised.
So I think an old saying all for one and one for all is kind of what we're trying to live. And some days, it's not easy to live it. We understand that, but I think with our group, we've been able to have some form of consistency with our work ethic and what we've been able to do as a team game is the most important thing.
And we let other people make those decisions on who within that group is deserved of the most recognition. We don't do that within our group.

Q. When your team has had a chance to close out a series, so far, for these playoffs you've done that. What qualities does your team show that allows them to have that killer instinct, I suppose, for lack of a better term?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think it's part of the player taking on the responsibility, as we talk about it, there's some areas on the ice where you cannot be soft. And that's the two bluelines.
When you're protecting leads, you gotta make sure that you don't turn that puck over either at the defensive blueline; it's got to get out and over the blueline. At the offensive blueline, it's got to get in and get in and establish some form of a forecheck.
We're a puck possession team. And we're a team that has to play effectively in the offensive zone to have success. And when we don't, we're very ordinary.

Q. Two questions. I'll ask one at a time. First is, George Parros has become a popular player here. Is there any plan to try to get him into a game or to petition for his name to be on the Cup if you were to win?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We haven't openly discussed that amongst our group. I've thought about some of those things, but I don't know at this point what direction I would go in. And we would discuss it again with the coaching staff. Those are tough ones. Those are real tough. I think that any member of our hockey club is deserved of having the opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Those are coaches' decisions. Sometimes they're not popular.
Sometimes you make decisions that affect people. And at this time, I think it's premature to be discussing it.

Q. The other question is, do you have any particular feelings or do people that have talked to you, people in this area that have talked to you, do you sense their feeling what it would mean for a California team to win the Cup?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We haven't really had that many discussions. We're an organization as I've talked about before that has worked extremely hard at trying to become an elite hockey club and organization. All those things are things that there's a huge group of people that have put forth a lot of hours and a lot of blood and sweat that went into it.
And the players are at the forefront of that. But there's a lot of people behind the scenes, and the players are in the line; then there's the scouts and the management and the marketing people that are putting the people in the seats.
There's all this list of people that have worked extremely hard to try and put this organization at the forefront in our market. And we think that, obviously, winning has a marketing success that usually goes with it.
But as far as discussing it or whatnot, we're not into discussing any of those things. We've got a hockey game to play. That's the most important thing. And we've got to play the best game we can possibly play. And all this other stuff is stuff that we let other people discuss and let other people make those assumptions.

Q. How much did the Alfredsson shot to Niedermayer at the end of the second motivate your team? It was really animated in the hallway before they came out for the third. Also, are you surprised that the league didn't even consider any supplementary discipline?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I know that definitely it hit a cord with our hockey club, and I think - the thing that surprised me the most about it all was that Scott Niedermayer took it upon himself and told the team to just turn the page on it. And that's a leadership statement. And he sensed the situation was we could be putting ourselves in jeopardy of losing our focus on the task at hand.
So that, again, is another leadership move by a very, very strong hockey player and captain of our group. And he was the player that the puck was directed at.
So those things are monumental in pressure situations. And it's important that we never lose sight of that fact.

Q. Are you surprised the league didn't look at any possible follow-up on that situation?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don't think that that's - I think those types of things are some things that are discussed. Am I surprised? The league has a mandate. The league sets out the rules. Whether they look at it or don't look at it, it really has no bearing on our focus and what we have to do. All this other stuff is window dress and we have a game to play tomorrow night.
As I stated numerous times, we have to play the best hockey game we've played this year.

Q. How close did Kunitz come to playing last night and what's his status going forward?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We thought that Kunitz would react to the treatments that he received between Game 3 and be available to us for Game 4. We made a decision, along with him, that it would be in the best interest for him not to play because he wasn't - would not be able to give us the 110% that was going to be required.
As far as the status for tomorrow, we think he'll again be a game-time decision.

Q. This is something obviously you don't plan, but can you talk about the benefit of losing a player like Pronger for a game in two series and have your team down without them rallying and win and have him come back into the lineup in a frozen situation?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don't know if we describe it as losing it. You don't want to ever lose any player. A player the stature of Chris Pronger is again an elite player in the league and is an elite player and one of our leaders. I don't think we'd ever want to say we want to lose him. But as far as the other guys we talked about our group before, that it was the type of effort that was going to be required, was going to have to entail other people stepping to the forefront, other people accepting more of the responsibility.
And I think that once we got through the first period last night, we were able to do that as a team. The first period, I thought, our goalie was the guy that did it.

Q. Then you get him back?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Then we get him back, and we feel good about having him back, but again, he's one member of our hockey club. All we want Chris Pronger to do is be Chris Pronger. And that is it in a nutshell. We don't want Chris Pronger to be anything other than give us his best possible game.

Q. Scott, obviously, has shown that three Cups aren't enough for him; he wants another one, but you've got a number of veterans that haven't tasted that. And what about their influence, their focus on the season as far as keeping you guys going through the peaks and the pitfalls of a season when they haven't tasted it and know they have a talented team capable of doing it?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Again, it's about people accepting their roles, people understanding the situation, recognizing that the opportunity doesn't come every year. It's all those things, because those players that you're talking about have played - some of them have played in the Semi-Finals or Conference Finals, have played in the Stanley Cup Finals and we have a couple of them that have played in '03 on this hockey club before we got here.
So their memories are going to be vivid. You've got players that have never had an opportunity to compete in the Finals and have played a lot of years. But, again, it's the culmination of their work ethic and their commitment. It's all about them understanding the situation and wanting it and building that confidence within one another.
I think Teemu Selanne described it last night as every member of your team has the ability to elevate their game in certain situations. And that's what we're asking them. No matter if you play 30 minutes or you play two minutes; we need the best possible two minutes if that's what's been given to you for you to provide. And that's critical.

Q. Carolina similarly came home last year with a chance to clinch Game 5 but they needed a couple extra games; they admitted they got over giddy, overexcited about the Cup being in the building thinking of all that stuff. What will you tell your players to keep their eye on the prize?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We've discussed that last night and discussed it today. We'll discuss it again. We have to let all the other outside distractions, and you are one of them (laughing), being the media, that's all part of it. And that's part of the maturing process that takes place.
We understand we have a responsibility to the media. We understand we have a responsibility to your friends and family, but we have to be selfish. We have to focus on the one task at hand and that's playing the best hockey game we can possibly play tomorrow.
And whatever things that are outside of that have to be pushed to the side and remain there. Sports is a business where it's never over till it's actually over, and you want to put yourself and give yourself the best possible chance to have success and you can't allow all those things that I just described to creep into it.
And it's all about being a professional athlete and representing your hockey club and your organization and understanding what the task and how hard it will be.
JAMEY HORAN: Thank you, Coach.

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