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June 3, 2002

Rod Brind'Amour

Ron Francis

Arturs Irbe


Q. Talk about the goaltending matchup that you are facing. Dominik Hasek is the second in the all-European matchup. Talk about your styles compared to his?

ARTURS IRBE: It's definitely first one in history, we all know that, but we have been around for a long time, myself and Dominik and Dominik has been longer a little bit than I am. Different styles. Different teams, and different ways to get here, so Dominik is -- like I have mentioned before is one of those goalies that never gives up on any puck, so you have to bury it every time. And he can always throw something new at you. So it's hard to figure him out, and my style is -- is a little bit different. I try to simplify everything and try to get in the right position at the right time, and try to let the puck come at me.

Q. This is your second time in the Cup. Can you talk about the irony of facing Detroit once again?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, obviously hoping for a lot better result. Last time around I remember kind of being overwhelmed, I think by the Red Wings, our whole team was. If you remember it was a quick series. They dominated from start to finish. It is a learning experience. I am glad now that I went through it. I think I am better prepared and the irony, I don't know if there's any irony -- being on a different team now, I think the irony is that playing on a team that was supposed to be there every year for eight years only had one chance at it, then it -- then you come to a team that no one gives you a chance and we're here. Obviously hoping for a lot better result.

Q. After the Olympic break you obviously started playing a little bit better. Some of the guys talked about maybe a renewed commitment to the system and everyone buying in. Do you agree with that? Did you start playing better and why was that? Was that the commitment deal?

RON FRANCIS: I don't know. I think we worked on some things before we came off that Olympic break just executing our system, I think maybe a little bit quicker, and I know personally for me it was great to get the rest at that point in the season, so I think our guys just came back with a real good attitude and real good work ethic, and it seemed to build from there.

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: That was a turning points for our team. I don't really know why, other than maybe what Ron said the break might have been -- did us really -- it was a great thing for us, and I think there was only 20 games left or something, little light at the end of the road and kind of focused a little better. Not that we played bad all year, I thought we played pretty consistent hockey and at that time of the year everyone really notices you, what you are doing as a team. We have been playing well ever since.

Q. Do you feel you get the respect as a franchise and how far will be establishing yourselves in this series get you there?

RON FRANCIS: I think you have to have success to earn that respect. You look back a short while ago, people used to laugh at the New Jersey franchise and look where they are today. I think as a team and as an organization and our city that we want to continue to make steps in the right direction and I think we're starting to do that the last couple of years, and certainly the more success we have, the more respect we'll get. So it's up to us to go out there and play as hard as we can and try to generate more success.

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Quickly what Ronnie just said, you gain respect through winning and this franchise hasn't won and so the respect isn't there. So I mean that's what he's saying only way to gain that is to win.

Q. Ron, do you understand how important team defense is. Can you explain was there a change in the team defensive system and style after the Sandis trade? Was there a renewed effort, did anything change much?

RON FRANCIS: No, the system that we have been using you know, right from Day-1 in training camp Paul Maurice started implementing it. We have meetings right Day-1 going over offensive parts, defensive parts, special teams, penalty kills, right from there, our system hasn't varied one bit. I think the guys over the course of season feel more comfortable within it, you know, are more able to execute, I guess, properly because they have been dealing with it more. But we didn't make any adjustment really at all over the course of the season.

Q. Do you recall at all the '94 series when you won two games here including an elimination game to knock the Wings out of the Playoffs?

ARTURS IRBE: Sure, it was a lot of fun and it was my first Playoff experience, started on the right foot, and Game 7s are always the most exciting time of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It doesn't mean -- doesn't matter what round, the farther you go the more exciting it gets. It was only first round we weren't supposed to be there. So we got our faces slapped pretty hard the next year when they took us in a four straight in second round, so, they made adjustments very quick but that's a long time ago and now it's a different Detroit team and I am playing for a different team too.

Q. Rod, is it safe to say that no goalie is really going to intimidate you guys? You guys have played probably three of the best five or six there is. You start with Brodeur, you beat Theodore, Curtis Joseph, goalie doesn't so much matter as the opportunities get to finish them?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Exactly. Maybe helped that, like you said, played three of the best goaltenders already and found ways I wouldn't say to beat them, we didn't get a lot of goals in the last series but found ways to win. I think you talk to any team any player, it's not so much about the goaltender. If you get a lot of chances, that's all you can ask for. That's going to be the task, is creating the chances and obviously he's going to save the bulk of them. You have got to hope to get enough of them, enough to win the game.

Q. Do you guys use that as a motivating factor, you tell yourselves nobody respects us, and we're going to show them that sort of thing?

ARTURS IRBE: Well, we have a competitive nature, and we want to be winners and respect comes from winning, so it all ties together, one way or another, so, we just want to win and then everything else will come, and that's how you win the games, how you win the series, and that's how you battle for the ultimate prize.

Q. Your connection with Michigan State how it feels to come back here. Obviously people know who you are in a different context. It's a long time ago but still people remember who you are....

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: I don't know if they remember. I don't know if they remember who I am. That was a long time ago. I was only there for a year in terms hockey-wise, went back five summers though after that and probably the most fun I have ever had in my life, college, best time of my life and created the majority of my friends that I have today are still, you know, around, were from that time. So I don't have any ties to the area other than a couple of friends, but it was a great time for me and the whole atmosphere of college hockey in this area is great. It was a lot of fun.

Q. European goalies playing against one another, Dominik said he played against you in 1990, I think when you were in the Soviet Union, you beat him. Ever go through your mind that one day we'll be in the NHL and playing against each other in the Stanley Cup Final?

ARTURS IRBE: Not really, no. It was a long time ago and at that time we were concentrating on international competition. Yeah, NHL was within our sights and we already got the taste of NHL, but especially for Soviet players it was really tough to get across the border and play abroad let alone NHL. There were only a handful of guys, some of them defectors who played in the NHL at that time, if any. So that didn't cross my mind at all. It was just, again, same idea, you want to win. You try to win a tournament, you try to win games, and back then I was playing for a team -- it was a great team.

Q. I wonder if you could remember what the first time was that you saw Hasek play and what you thought of him at that time?

ARTURS IRBE: I remember him playing, I would say in '83, maybe, in World Championships for a Czech team, national team, he wasn't their starter but he was put in the net to play against Soviets and they were clear-cut Gold Medal, you know, winners before the tournament. There was that 17 or 18 year old kid playing goalie and I was thinking, how he could get there that early and how he could be that good, so he was very good at a very early age and he was a part of the Czech League at very early age and international stage and that's what he has been doing in the NHL since he came.

Q. Do you remember who the starter was?

ARTURS IRBE: That would be a tough one. There are few names on my mind, but I don't think they will ring a bell.

Q. You have played with a number of great players. Of course in your career, talk about Ron Francis, what he has brought to this team and the influence he has in the room?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, when I talk about Ron the first thing that I always mention is class and I think you don't realize how important that's to have, I think with your team and in your locker room obviously he just, the way he carries himself and what he has done just brings respect within our locker room, and you just watch him, and it just feeds off everyone just kind of patterns themselves I think the way they behave on and off the ice, we're one of those teams, you are kind of proud to be around him because I think the way we played we kind of play between the whistles just the way Ron Francis plays, and just "class" is the one word that I always try to use when I describe him.

End of FastScripts...

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