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May 15, 2002

Bates Battaglia

Rod Brind'Amour

Erik Cole

Ron Francis


Q. Both your reactions on playing Toronto, seeing Gary Roberts again?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, seeing him again, that isn't really an issue. He's a good player. He's their best player right now. It's going to be -- I mean, keying in on one guy, we have to key on the whole team. He's the one that's driving their team; so obviously we need to shut him down to be successful. But they are playing with grit and grinding it out and that's why they have been successful.

BATES BATTAGLIA: Well, like Roddy said, we are going to treat this like any other team, play our same game. We can't change it. I look forward to playing them. They are a good team and I think it will be a physical match-up. It will be a fun series.

Q. Would you address the success your lines have had?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, we'll have to wait and see. But I think every series, every game is an entity in itself. So whether you win big or lose big, it's just match-play, and obviously, I hope that these guys keep playing well, because that's a big part of our team. But everyone has to play well in order to win, and that's what we've got so far.

Q. As you see what Toronto has overcome injury-wise and two really, really tough series, do you feel that you have an advantage going into this because you're relatively fresh or does the resolve that they showed in the last two series give them an advantage in a way?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Who knows? I think you're right, any way you look at it -- but they have all that momentum building. And when you go through what they have gone through, you definitely become better on the other end of it, if you get through it, and they have. So they are a stronger team for it. And we faced our share of adversity, as well, and I think we are better for it as well.

Q. Ron, your line is getting a lot of publicity with Bates' improvement, Erik Cole, the rookie sensation. Sami has had 29 shots in the playoff series in Jersey and Montreal. Is he getting good shots but they are just not going in?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Ronny could address that more than anybody, but he's definitely getting good opportunities. They are asking us what's wrong, the first three games not scoring off Jose Theodore, and all of a sudden we score a bunch of goals and people ask, what are you guys doing different. I think it's just a matter of time.

RON FRANCIS: I think Sami has continued to work hard. He's generated a lot of opportunities, had some real good shots but nothing has gone in for him. I think at this time of the year, it's just a matter of getting that one and then hopefully things will swing in his favor.

Q. Before you walked in, Bates and Rod addressed playing Toronto, first of all, and then seeing Gary Roberts at this level at this stage of the season?

RON FRANCIS: We said before last night's game that we were going to get a tough opponent, and certainly Toronto is going to fit that bill. They are a really good hockey team and played extremely well. We watched their game last night, working well and working together, so, you know, we've got a lot of hard work ahead of us, there's no doubt about that. Certainly, what Gary is doing isn't really a surprise to us. We knew he's very capable of doing that. He does everything extremely well. He can play the physical game, he can skate, he can score, he can pass. So he's been a big part of the success and played very well for them.

Q. One year ago you guys came so close to knocking off New Jersey, and Paul said earlier today that that really kind of maybe set the table for what you guys have done so far in this year's playoffs. For you, a guy who has been around and seen it on so many different levels, what has allowed this team to take an extra step or two along the way?

RON FRANCIS: I think we went into last year's playoffs with really no playoff experience. A lot of our guys have not been there at all, and you have to get that taste and understand what it's all about. I think our guys came back this year with a different attitude, a better understanding of what it takes to be successful at this time of year, and right from day one, have worked extremely hard. We've just played well as a team, all season long. We relied on everybody to help and contribute in different ways and we got that from a lot of different areas, and that's exactly why we are sitting here today. We had a lot of contributions from different areas.

Q. While keeping your focus on the ice, how aware are you guys of the phenomena that's gripped this area the last month or so, driving around town, not just here at arena, how amazing has it been to watch?

RON FRANCIS: It's been very gratifying. As a player, that's what you hope happens, when you work hard and you have success. Certainly, this community has really rallied around us, and especially during the playoffs, it's been tremendous. We mentioned it before, 2:00 in the morning, 500-plus people waiting for us at the airport when we get back, not once, but two or three times. Flags everywhere you go, people know who you are and they are talking about it. For our organization and for our players who are trying to establish themselves in the communities, a little niche, it's very rewarding and something that we certainly appreciate very much.

ERIK COLE: I wasn't here when the team first came down, so I don't know what it was like in the years in Greensboro and everything. But for coming into this situation, getting the opportunity and everything, I think it couldn't be any better. I love the area and I've got family down here, so it's just been a great experience. The fan support has just been amazing. Every time we go on the road, I'm curious to see how great our fans are going to be the next home game.

Q. Can you talk about just the resolve that you guys have shown through these playoffs? You jump out nicely against New Jersey and that critical overtime win and then Montreal looks like they have really got you on the ropes in Game 4, and then obviously through great leadership and great contribution, you guys, like Toronto, every time somebody thinks you're on the ropes, you've jumped off and played even better?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: I think you said it. We've faced it in every series there's been a where we were down -- that game in Jersey we were down a goal, Game 5, scored, tied it up, went into overtime and that was a huge turning point. And last series, down 3-1 in the third, I think every team faces that. You look at any team -- I don't want to get ahead of myself, but there was probably a time when they were on the run when they could have gone in and they weren't able to do that that's what we have been able to do. That's just because we are a good team. We rely on each other. I've been on teams where it seems like it was on one guy's shoulders, and it's tough to do that way; whereas this way, we look around the room, somebody is going to get it done and we seem to have done that.

Q. Rod you have had a boatload of points against the Leafs over the years, and it seems you have a comfort zone playing in Toronto.

RON FRANCIS: I think the playoffs are different than the regular season. I just think, you know, back -- I played most of my career in the old Maple Leafs Gardens, and as a kid growing up and watching Saturday nights, that building on Saturday night and having played there, it was obviously very special for me and a sad day when they closed that building down and opened a new one. I've been fortunate over the years to have some bounces and breaks go my way.

Q. I heard in Montreal a few times and on an NHL program last night your name mentions with Smyth; how does that make you feel?

ERIK COLE: I haven't heard any of that. I said to one of the reporters during, I think it was one of the practices in Montreal, he says, "Well, what's it like to be reading all this stuff about yourself?" I said, "You know what, I don't even know what paper you write for, so I probably won't even read it." And that's just something I've done. If you stay away from all that, don't pay any attention to it, just try and relax and concentrate on what you have to do on the ice, it makes things a lot easier, and this post-season has not been any different. It's the way I've gone into a game in the regular season, so it's been pretty much the same. And Bates and Rod have helped me along the way to keep a good focus.

Q. Erik, you said you probably didn't get recognized around here until April. Have you had some attention recently since you've been back in this series, had a chance to be out and be recognized?

BATES BATTAGLIA: With that beard? (Laughs).

ERIK COLE: I said yesterday if I go out no one will recognize me. I haven't been out much, and I think just, you know, any time I get day off, I spend it with my daughter and my wife. You know, it doesn't really matter to me if I go out to the store and get noticed or not. That's not what I'm here for. So, you know, I would rather -- people come to the rink and I'd rather have them notice me here than somewhere else.

Q. Erik has got the beard. What about the rest of you guys?

RON FRANCIS: Mine is white; so I won't grow one. (Laughter).

BATES BATTAGLIA: I can't grow a mustache; so I'm going to stay away from that.

ERIK COLE: Roddy's got the biggest baby face on the team.

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: My theory is everybody grows a beard on a playoff team, and only one team wins, so the odds are better if I keep it clean and we'll win.

End of FastScripts...

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