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May 28, 2010

Chris Pronger


Q. Chris, I know you've won a Stanley Cup before, won a gold medal. Which is more rewarding, in your mind?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think the Stanley Cup, just because of the longevity of the season. The length of time, from the time training camp starts, all the way through to the end of the year to Finals; it's almost ten months and summer months is training and preparing for that season, it's a whole calendar year.
And it takes a lot of effort and a lot of mental and physical pain, turmoil and all the rest of that stuff to get it done. The Playoffs become a whole other entity and battle of attrition, and there's injuries and momentum swings, and all the rest of that. So tale of two seasons, really.

Q. Having played for Joel and Laviolette, how are they similar and how are they different, and how would you compare their personalities?
CHRIS PRONGER: I don't know, it's pretty hard to compare. I've had a lot of coaches since Joel, so it's pretty tough to remember everything that he did. Obviously, they're both very good teachers of the game. They both are intense behind the bench and push their players to play to the best of their abilities, and they get the most out of their players.
But other than that, Xs and Os and stuff like that, it's been quite a while.

Q. Do you remember a game at the end of October, Flyers 6, Carolina 1, with Leighton in goal for Carolina?
CHRIS PRONGER: I do not. I can't remember what I did a couple of weeks ago. So remembering what happened in October, it would be a tough one.

Q. Just a follow-up about Peter. What's the biggest thing he brought to your locker room when he was hired?
CHRIS PRONGER: Anytime you change coaches, it's a fresh face, a fresh voice. You know, sometimes you need a change to spark players, spark a team. It's never an easy decision.
I'm sure Holmer had a tough decision to make, and I'm sure at times questioned it. But it certainly was the right move. And the first few weeks with Peter were tough. Obviously, with us learning a new system and us being in a funk and not playing very well, I'm sure it wasn't easy. There was a lot of a sleepless nights, I'm sure. But once we started kind of turning that corner, understand the system, buy into the system, buy into what Peter was selling, you started to see the team kind of take shape and players start to take form and play better.
And, ultimately, as the season went along, we started to get better and better. And once the Playoffs rolled around, we had been through so much and understood what we needed to do night in, night out, to be successful, that you're kind of seeing the rewards now.

Q. In some series, the matchups seem to matter more than others. There's already been a lot of talk about you against their big line. Is it fair to view that as a real centerpiece to what's going to happen in this series?
CHRIS PRONGER: I don't know. You could probably look at their last series and say that their top line and San Jose's top line cancel each other out, and it boils down to the other three lines. You can look at it any number of different ways. We're going to need balanced scoring from all four lines, everyone to chip in. That's how we win hockey games. We need our big guys to play well, absolutely this time of year your big guys need to shine. But you need your third and fourth line guys to play very well. They need to do their job, but on top of that chip in and score some big goals for you or stop big goals from the other time. It takes a total team effort. It's not one or two guys to win the series. We need to play very well top to bottom.

Q. How much confidence did you guys have in Michael Leighton going back in that game when Boucher got hurt and how much did it help in that January February time before the Olympics how good he got when he was injured?
CHRIS PRONGER: He's playing great. We were kind of rolling behind him and in front of him. He was playing unbelievable for us, 30, 40 shots a night, he was playing very well and making big stops for us, keeping us in games, winning games for us, making late saves to preserve the wins. And we tested him and he rose to the challenge. And I think everybody felt comfortable when Bouch got hurt in Game 5 in Boston that he was going to come in and play well. I don't think there was anybody that thought anything other than that.

Q. You guys have had the first bunch of days off since between the New Jersey series and the Boston series. Came back to play Boston. The concern was there would be rust. But it feels different this time. Do you guys feel like you're rested? What's the mindset?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, they've had a lot more days off than us. They were probably not as. John. But no, it's only been four days. So sometimes getting a few days off is good for you. Obviously after the New Jersey series we had a number of injuries, needed that extra time to start the healing process for the number of guys that we've now got back.
And as I've said, you're going to have injuries. You're going to have time off, you're not going to have time off like after the Boston series, we got right into playing Montreal. I don't think it matters one way or the other. You need to use the time when you get it and use it wisely. And I think we did it. And now we're using this time wisely and preparing for a very good Chicago team and making sure guys are healthy and ready to go. .

Q. A lot has been said about the impact you've made on the three teams you've gone with the Stanley Cup Final with here in the early years of your prime. I'm just wondering if you could characterize the challenges of those three teams, what the kind of major challenge was with each one and maybe which one was the most difficult?
CHRIS PRONGER: Starting with Edmonton, I think really just having, getting that belief that we could win every night, and having, they hadn't made the Playoffs a whole lot over the five or six years prior to me getting there.
I got this, obviously expectations rose. And it was a matter of us believing in the room that we could win every single night. And as the season went along, I think we felt like that. We didn't necessarily always win. Again, that year we had a lot of ups and downs. But I think felt comfortable with our team and with the personnel on our team, and it was just a matter of us putting it all together.
As we got closer to the Playoffs, we got in and we felt like we had a good matchup against Detroit, and played very well against San Jose that year and ultimately Anaheim and on into Carolina. But it was just every single game, whether we were down 4-0 or up 4-0 we felt we were in every game and had a chance to win, and we just continued to play our system. We didn't get out of synch. We didn't panic. We didn't do anything of that sort.
And they were just the mindset and guys were dialed in, playing into the system and playing very well and buying in. Anaheim, the expectations were very high. They'd been to the Conference Finals the year before and they liked their team and thought I might be a guy to help them get over to the top and get to the Finals. And the expectations were to win a Stanley Cup. That's what the team was put together for and we were able to accomplish that.
So it wasn't really me going in there and changing anything or anything, it was just adding a guy and a couple other guys and a little bit of personnel.
But everybody had great years that year. And from start to finish, from the start of the year, all the way through, and all the lines pretty much stayed intact pretty much all year long. They weren't really line combinations being juggled and whatnot. We had this Selanne and the Getzlaf line and Pahlsson line and fourth line and the energy line, and a few guys came in and out of that line.
But really the pairings were the same, the team was pretty much together from October all the way through and there weren't many changes. So it was kind of put together to win that year and we did.
And this team, I think, obviously the expectations were high off of start of the season and didn't necessarily live up to those off the hop. But having been through all the ups and downs through the course of the year, I think it was just a matter of us finding our identity as a team and finding certain dynamics that are going to make our team better.
Obviously a lot of question marks through the course of the middle part of the season, the coaching change and all the questions coming from the media and fans and all the rest of that.
But if you're able to meet those challenges head on, you're able to get through the tough times. It's only going to make you tougher as a team and as players. And I think everyone in the locker room is playing for one another and understands what's at stake and what we need to do to be successful. We've got to play as a group and play for one another.

Q. Claude Giroux said yesterday that he spent some time the last few days talking to Kimmo about what it meant to get this far, not to let it bypass you. And I was just wondering, do you plan to say anything to these guys? I mean, you're the only one that has been through this and has won. Leino was through last year but didn't win. Do you have anything special to say to anybody in the room tomorrow? Do you feel you have to do that?
CHRIS PRONGER: No, I don't think so. I think Peter's obviously been there in one, too. And all Playoff long he's done a great job of making sure that guys keep their eye on the prize and don't look too far ahead. Don't look back at what's happened through the course of the year.
We need to look at where we are at right now in the next game, the next shift. And don't look too far ahead. We have to get the first win. You can't get forward without the first one. We need to focus on Game 1 and the rest of it doesn't matter at this stage. We've got to keep our mind on that Game 1 and that's it.

Q. After finishing up practice today, and you're out here on this ice, you see the Stanley Cup Final logo and all that, how much do you want to get going and play this game tomorrow. How excited are you to get it going?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think everybody's ready to go. We've had four days off now to kind of practice and prepare and get ready and do all the media stuff with you guys and get it all taken care of now. And we can kind of give you the Heisman later on here.
I think everybody's chomping at the bit to, we've had enough practice. This time of year practice isn't real huge for us. We just want to get to the games and competing and get back in the swing of things. So tomorrow probably can't get fast enough for the guys.

Q. Bettman was just talking looks like it's questionable, 2014 Sochi will the NHL will be a part of it, how tough will it be on you as a player to maybe be kept out of the Olympics?
CHRIS PRONGER: That's four years away, and that's probably a better question for the CBA committee, and the PA in the league. That's a long ways off. I'm not really focused on the Olympics right now.

Q. Laperriere said yesterday he thinks Chicago has the best power play by far of any teams you've faced in the Playoffs. What particular challenges do the Blackhawks bring on the power play?
CHRIS PRONGER: Confidence, number one. Number two, they've got a lot of different options. They can work it high. They can work it low. They work it high to low and take it to the net.
They've obviously got a guy who is very good at screening the goalie, and they've got a very slick half-wall guy who can make plays cross ice make plays down low and has a very sneaky shot off the half wall, and Toews comes out of the corner, very good around the net making plays and putting pucks in the net.
And you've got Sharp backdoor, one-timer, kind of roaming around over there, looking for seams in loose areas. And obviously Duncan up top with a great shot, seems to be getting everything through. We need to do a good job of getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots because he seems to find a way to get it through.

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