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Burns Relates Weird Tale


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Burns relates weird tale



Saturday, May 24, 2003 - Page S3


OTTAWA -- Pat Burns has been around the National Hockey League long enough to have seen a few things. But he never experienced anything like the day his New Jersey Devils had yesterday.

It ended for the Devils and their head coach with a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and a trip to the Stanley Cup final, avoiding a collapse from the 3-1 lead they once held in the Eastern Conference final. So when Burns entered the room for his postgame press conference, he was ready to tell a tale.

"I think that a lot of things happened today," he said. "It was a real weird day. Everything was funny.

"I don't know if you saw the bus we had coming over [to the Corel Centre]. It looked like an old bus from the Slap Shot movie. Our main bus broke down, our trainers had an accident in the cab coming over, and then they jumped in another cab and got stopped by the police because they were going through the bus lane.

"This morning when we left [the Corel Centre after the game-day skate], they had some trailers out there. [Assistant coach] Bobby Carpenter asked what they were for and told me they are for the media in the next round.

"I stopped the bus right in front of there. I said, 'You see those trailers? We're going to send those trailers back because there's not going to be a next round.' It was a confident day.

"We lose Joe Nieuwendyk after [three] shifts. I remember going in after the first period and I saw Joe sitting there with a tear running down his eye. That motivated me again. I went back in the room, told the players we have a rangy old veteran who would love to help you out. I said he's got a tear running down his eye right now. That seemed to pump up the team. There was all kinds of little things that happened.

"Jeff Friesen, on that giveaway, on [Radek Bonk's tying goal in the third period], he came to the bench. I think he was pondering suicide. I said, 'Just relax. You owe me one.' He went and got the [winning] goal.

"So it was a funny day."

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Burns pulls out all the stops to inspire Devils


When you are a coach in a seventh game, inspiration can come from many places.

A rickety old bus on its last legs.

A rickety old veteran on his last legs.

New Jersey Devils coach Pat Burns pulled out just about every trick in the book last night to light a spark under his club.

The Devils, inspired by Burns' ploys, ended the Senators' season with a 3-2 win at the Corel Centre.

"You are looking for all kinds of things," said Burns, who found his first perceived slight in the Devils' transportation to the rink.

"I don't know if you saw the bus we had coming over, it looked like an old bus from the Slap Shot movie," said Burns.

Devils veteran Scott Stevens said after the game the Devils were given the old bus on purpose to inconvenience them.

"It was pretty bad looking," he said.

"They made us come over here in an old bus that needed a coat of paint. "

Burns didn't let up there.

Upon seeing some trailers set up at the Corel Centre, Burns told the players the trailers were set up to handle the media at the Stanley Cup final.

"I said, 'you see those trailers? We're going to send those trailers back because there isn't going to be a next round.' It was a confident day."

Burns also used veteran centre Joe Nieuwendyk's plight to motivate his players. The teary-eyed Nieuwendyk had to quit after three shifts because his wonky knee wouldn't allow him to continue.

Burns implored his players to win for Nieuwendyk.

"To see a guy like (Nieuwendyk) with tears in his eyes, you have no excuses," said Devils forward Scott Gomez. "You see deep down in his eyes, it was real emotional. You could see in his eyes he was dying."

Nieuwendyk said he felt like he had to at least try.

"I knew in my heart I wasn't near 100%," he said. "It got progressively worse in the warmup and then the first few shifts I had difficulty.

"You don't get these opportunities a lot in your career. You treasure these moments.

"I'm very thankful they've given me a chance to go to the finals."

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