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June 4, 1997

Rod Brind'Amour

Ron Hextall

John LeClair

Terry Murray


GARY MEAGHER: First I want to thank Coach Terry Murray, John LeClair, Ron Hextall and Rod Brind'Amour for joining us this afternoon. We have 20 minutes for questions and we will wrap it up. I would like to spread it out evenly amongst the four gentlemen. Let us begin.

Q. Decision to change goalies, Terry?

TERRY MURRAY: Did I make a decision?

Q. Why a decision to change goalies?

TERRY MURRAY: Why? Well, to win games. That is as plain and simple as I can say it. We have -- going back again over the year, we have got great goaltending from both guys and both played very well in the Playoffs and make a change based on I a gut feel, sometimes on -- a decision on things you are seeing. And, we are going back to Hexy and he is going to play the duration.

Q. Ron, what was your reaction when you got the word? I am assuming it was today.

RON HEXTALL: Yeah. I am extremely happy again to have an opportunity. I think that to be at this stage of the Finals and have an opportunity to play it is what we all dream about. I am not changing that, my attitude. I am certainly not going to get down. We are down 2 to nothing and we are damn excited about where we are. I think being in Detroit is going to help us. We didn't get it done in our own building and being in their building can help us. We will play a simpler game and do a better job.

Q. Could this be your biggest game in ten years since the last time you were in the Cup Finals?

RON HEXTALL: You guys think thing way, way, way too far through. (audience laughter).

Q. Got a lot of free time, the flight.

RON HEXTALL: I understand that. Eight days in between, you think up all these questions. It is a cliche but it is one game at time for us. I am going to look to be ready to have a good start for the game and carry on from there. But, just my mental preparation for the first minute, and we will go from there.

Q. Terry, how did Garth take the news that he was going to play? Did he think it was reaction to the one bad goal? How did you explain it to him?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, that is the thing that he is going to think, I am sure that -- you know, one of the questions I was asked last night on the side by a media person is that: "Do you think Garth Snow led in that long goal because he is such close friends with Hexy, he wanted Hexy back into the net?" How absurd is this getting? Snowy took it fine. He is a professional. He knows that what we are doing as a team here is trying to win some hockey games. And, he knows that the decisions that are made are based on the team and on trying to win some games. And, he is going to go out again and do the same as what Hexy did when he did didn't play, hard work and keep himself ready to go. And, Snowy dealt with it very well.

Q. John, you guys have to take a lot of consolation in the fact that you played very well in the Playoffs so far. Can you talk about that?

JOHN LeCLAIR: Yeah, this team is not intimidated by going into another team's building. I think, you know, as Hexy mentioned earlier, you know, this can be an added advantage of going on the road, you tend to play simpler. You actually played a little bit more relaxed. So, we got a lot of things to be positive about, that is for sure, coming in here.

Q. Terry, what is Paul Coffey's status? Did he make the trip?

TERRY MURRAY: No, he did not make the trip. Paul Coffey's status is that he got hit late in the game last night, received a slight concussion, went to our team doctors' today and was tested and he will be tested again tomorrow morning. And, if there is clearance from our team doctor, then he will play. But, not until then. If he is not able to play in the game tomorrow, he will be retested again Friday and again, the doctors will either give him clearance to play or not. And, we will take it day-to-day after that.

Q. What does that do to your lineup?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, got Michel Petit back into the game. You know, Michel has been with us for the last half of the season and hasn't played a lot, but he has been certainly taking good care of himself. Very professional in his hard work and in the practices and in of all the extra work that is done after practice is over. And, it is his opportunity to get in there. He is a satisfy seasoned veteran. And, we will try to keep the game as simple as possible here in Detroit. I don't think we have to come in and put any kind of a show on. We just want to try and win. And he will do his hard work for us.

Q. Based on the test, you said that Paul Coffey had today, did the doctors give you any indication of the likelihood that he would be able to play?

TERRY MURRAY: Not to me, no. Our team doctor just said that the -- we do a base evaluation at training camp for every player. When he was tested, he was very, very close to being normal, with the concussion. And, you know, if he is tested clear tomorrow morning, then he will be here and be able to play tomorrow night.

Q. Rod, at this point in the Playoffs, what kind of adjustments can you make for the speed that is really giving you so many problems in this series?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, I mean, we do have to make a few adjustments, obviously. We have given up too many goals. But, at the same time, you know, we are here for a reason. We have played well all year. We are not going to change our game too much. I think we all can play better. That is the bottom line. If we play better, I think we are going to have a lot better chance to win the game. It is not so much what they are doing. They are playing pretty well. But, I think we can pick our game up.

Q. Terry, you lost the first two at home to New Jersey two years ago, went there and drastically changed the way you wanted to play. You were a lot more patient. Is that what this is going to take now? Is the Detroit and New Jersey style similar enough that you can take something from that?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, I think they are two different kinds of teams than what we saw back with the Devils, you know, a couple years ago than what we are seeing with Detroit now. We are talking about the speed the Red Wings are showing. A lot of that is due to our play through the mid-zone and in the offensive zone, we are making some crucial turnovers and any time you get 3 guys going one way and 5 guys going another way, it is going to certainly look like they got a lot of speed. I mean, to compare both situations, Jay, yes, we have to make some adjustments. We did that in the New Jersey series. And, I thought last night we played much better. We got better speed through the neutral zone on our transition game. That, we will try to emphasize and keep it the same, but certainly we have got to play better on the defensive part of the game. I think the Red Wings are really doing a good job with a lot of obstruction, a lot of holding up. To be able to get our fore-check game going, you have got to allow the open man to be able to get in there uncontested. That is not happening. They are being fronted. They are being held up by a forward stick and it makes it near impossible to get a good fore-check game going as a result of that. Their other defenseman is able to hook the net, make the one pass that is beating our three fore-checkers or our three forwards. Again, they are breaking out with basically a high breakout. So, if that is the kind of game that is going to be the rest of the way, then we will adjust, and we will be much better in making the decisions with our second and third guy on the fore-check neutral zone "D", we are going to make some adjustments. And, I hope that, you know, on their fore-check, we can do the same, holding up, buying some time for our defensemen. Obstruction will work both ways. We just need to know which way it is going to be let go.

Q. Regardless of the goaltending situation, is two goals for enough?

TERRY MURRAY: Our offensive game has got to be better. Again, I think the way the Red Wings play, they are a good team, very solid team. They are here for a reason. They have done an outstanding job this year. They collapsed the five guys back very low to the front of their net and it is tough to make any kind of played happen off the original rush. If it happens, it's got to be just a quick play to the net. I think we have been a little reluctant to make that happen sometimes. We are trying to make that extra play and that results in that transition game again. So, to be able to get a fore-check established, and just show some good patience in the offensive zone, there is plenty of room on the outside now and if we can create something off of that, we will end up getting more goals. You can score a couple of goals, though, if we keep our defensive game to a higher level, then that is going to be okay. When you are on the road, you are not going to get a lot of goals. But, the defensive part of the game has been the foundation of our team, the very heart of our organization for the last three years. And, that is exactly where we need to really focus in on right now.

Q. I know the media has second-guessed your original decision to go with Snowy, something you have done before. But, do you have any regrets in making that choice now that you are going back with Ron?

TERRY MURRAY: No, I don't have any regrets. Snowy has played very well for us in the past couple of years. His game has really improved. We see great play in the Playoffs, against Pittsburgh, again the Rangers, against Buffalo. If the situation was where Snowy had not played any Playoffs games, I clearly would not have made the decision to go with him at all. But, he has played very well. And, I believe that our team has a lot of confidence in front of both goaltenders and the situation is what it is right now. We are down two games. Hexy is playing. And we have to come into this building and start to win.

Q. Terry, you said that you are going to go with Ron for the duration. Is that just kind of to settle things down and kind of establish that he is going to be the guy to not have to worry?

TERRY MURRAY: Well, it is. I don't want to get into a game here of, you know, hanging people on a string and everybody asking questions as to what is going on with the goaltending situation. I played a hunch, a little bit of a hunch there yesterday. Again, all of the Playoff stuff that has taken place before there series is taken into consideration. But, I was hoping that we would get a win out of it. And, in the past, Snowy has really come in and done again a great job for us. So, it is going to settle it down.

Q. What do you say to those who say it doesn't matter who you have at net, that you are so far behind in the other aspects of the game that it doesn't matter?

TERRY MURRAY: I don't agree with that. I don't believe that we are that far behind in other aspects of our game. If you look at the way the game went last night, they got a couple of power plays in the first half, the first period. The shots are like 11 to 1, I believe at one time. If you look at the shot total at end of that period, they are even and the same. The scenario unfolded in the second period, it ends up even shots at the end of the game. So, we are not that far behind in other areas of the game. We just need to make better decisions ourselves. We feel, after two games, that we have given up the two wins. Detroit has not come out and beat us. We are the ones that have given the turnovers, and made the decisions that have caused a lot of our own problems.

Q. Rod and for John, what is it going to be like to be playing on the road down 2-nothing? You have a good road record. Is there going to be maybe a little less pressure than playing at home?

ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, I mean, obviously it is going to be crazy at the start. It should be this time of year. But we have dealt pretty well with it all through the Playoffs. I don't think you get much crazier than it -- when it was in New York when we were there. I think, you know, we are not such a young team anymore where those kind of things affect us. Maybe that is why our road record has been pretty good this year. We have been through these situations before, and obviously we are going to have to weather a little bit of a storm. But, like Johnny said too, I think we play somewhat a little more relaxed on the road, maybe, and maybe, for some reason, it helps our game.

JOHN LeCLAIR: I mean, you know, this place is going to be buzzing tomorrow, no question. And, they are going to come out jumping. We all know that. And, we will be ready for it. Like Roddy said, we have been in similar situations like this earlier in the Playoffs and we have actually responded well and turned it around.

Q. John, why do you think the team has turned the puck over more, so much more than you did in the first three rounds? Is it something they are doing that you are not used to seeing?

JOHN LeCLAIR: I don't think it is things that -- I mean, our system is set up so there is other options. So, it is not things that they are doing. You always have another option to do some things. I think a lot of the times is, you know, it happens that a lot of the mistakes end up in the net right now where we have made mistakes in the past. And, they haven't ended up in the net. And, those mistakes look twice as big.

Q. Rod, is it kind of a bittersweet feeling the fact that you are playing so well right now and the team has lost these two games?

RON BRIND'AMOUR: I don't see it that way. I don't see myself playing all that well. Got a couple of breaks and pucks going in off sticks that does not necessarily mean you are playing well. Like -- I mean, Terry said it, we have to play better offensively. We are giving up to many, you know-- not a lot of great scoring chances, but the ones that are 2 on 1s, things like, that are chances where good teams are going to score. That is what is happening. So, we have got to eliminate that. That is the part of the game that we all can play better at.

Q. Terry, how much of a factor do you think is the Wings' experience having gone through this two years ago and the Western Final Series last year against Colorado, do you think that is much of a factor at all?

TERRY MURRAY: It is a factor. There is no question that, as an athlete, you have got to go through some tough times in order to learn how to do things the right way. I think that is time proven. You hate to have to do it. But, there is no question that the Red Wings today are a better hockey club because of the experiences that they have gone through. Certainly, with last year's performance being a team that ran away with the President's Cup. High expectations, and stuff didn't happen in the semifinals for them. So there has to be experience taken away from it. I think with our club, we have been through some experiences in the Playoffs last year, two years ago, going to the semifinals, and what we need to, I think, for our own selves here right now, draw from the two games that we have played, is to let the game settle in a little bit. The reason I think we are giving up those chances against is we are playing catchup all the time. We are trying to force the fore-check. We are trying to force the neutral zone "D". Detroit is showing the patience, the experience that they have gained over the past couple of years. To be able to make that, that is beating 2 and 3 forwards on the breakouts. So if we can play solid, the emotion is going to be high here tomorrow night in the building. The players, they are going to really try to do a lot of the stuff, I think, in the first period. So, we have got to let the game settle down, let us get ourselves into it where it is an even game. And, give ourselves a better opportunity where we don't have to start chasing from behind. Let us get ourselves the lead, maybe in this game. Get a one or two goal lead, and all the good stuff that we are talking about with the Red Wings on the defensive part of the game, we will see a different thing. They have got to open up. They have got to change a little bit. We can play our game. So, it is a deciding factor for us to do a better job in the early part of the game. And, again, let it just settle in. Let us just play hockey.

Q. Ron, any easier for you knowing that a hook is out if you don't play --

RON HEXTALL: You know, I have been through a lot in my career, 11 years, I have had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. This is something right now it is dealing with day-to-day. I am not thinking about getting the hook or whether I will -- I am playing the next game. I am thinking about tomorrow night. And, I am thinking about playing well tomorrow night. You know, as we have talked about, we all need to pick it up a little bit and we all need to play better and certainly I am amongst that group.

Q. Ron, there is nothing you worked on in the last few days, especially?

RON HEXTALL: I feel fine about the first game other than the fourth goal I should have had it, but other than that, I mean, the other goals, they were pretty good goals. And, you know, you are going to let goals in. That is nature of the game. So, I go in tomorrow night with one thing in mind and that is winning the hockey game. I don't care if it is 1-nothing or 6-5. We need a win.

GARY MEAGHER: Thanks very much, guys.

End of FastScripts...

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