Work in Sports
From the Locker Rooms
Stars take the victory and run; Devils tidy in defeat
Posted: Friday June 02, 2000 05:48 PM
By Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So many members of the media shuffle into the winner's locker room that players have begun issuing good-natured "moos" as the group herds in.
In New Jersey, where the Dallas Stars won Game 2 by a 2-1 score, the visitors' quarters are small, bare and cool. The conscientious parents among the wedged-in press must have felt every urge to shout at the Stars: "Clean your Room."
This was getaway day for Dallas and in the players' haste to catch the team bus to the team plane they left their guestroom looking as if a Texas Tornado had hit it. The uncarpeted blue floor was badly scuffed. Water bottles and Pepsi cans rolled underfoot. Balls of tape stuck to the ground, gum wrappers tossed in the breeze of small fan and half-devoured nutrition bars lay on the bench below the player stalls. If that doesn't attract rink rats nothing will.
It was nearly 11:15 p.m. and the marker board warned the players that they were to make an 11:30 bus. The ever accommodating Mike Keane -- clad in his familiar, yet ever humorous "Shut Up Hull" baseball cap -- kept glancing at the scrawled deadline as he answered question after question about what the Stars expected from the series when they went back home. "It's going to be warmer in Dallas," says Keane. "We like that."
Other players stopped to snack on the mini-spread of bananas and oranges and chocolate chip cookies. There was a basket of bagels too (hey, New Jersey is almost in New York) and a jar of peanut butter next to a squeeze bottle of strawberry jelly. Food for a team on the run.
The hour of departure was drawing nearer but still the media forestalled defenseman Darryl Sydor, kept him talking, a towel wrapped around his waist as he stared into the camera lights. Finally he broke free to go wash his playoff-bleached hair.
The marker board still had the announcement of Dallas's 6:30 pre-game team meeting scrawled upon it and, in the upper right-hand corner, a reminder to the Stars player of their abiding and deeply beneficial mindset: "One Mind. One Body. One Effort."
Devils go for the minimalist approach
No inspirational messages adorned the marker board in the Devils' locker room. They simply have a grid and written inside it the Dallas line combinations and defense pairings. Here the media horde was smaller, and the room much more spacious, warm and covered by a thick Devil-red carpet.
The Devils are not going anywhere just yet. They fly to Dallas only after a Friday practice at home. Their equipment had been hung with care at each stall. There was no litter on the floor. Even the screwdrivers the players use to tighten an adjust their gear had been aligned neatly on a wall rack
The Devils have been the better team this series -- much better in Game 1, slightly better in Game 2 despite Dallas's narrow win. They looked optimistically ahead. "We've played well on the road," said Scott Stevens. "We think we can continue to do that."
At 11:33, just as the last Stars were knotting their ties and hustling for the bus, the Devils locker room was almost empty. The finals were tied at 1-1 and the next two games are in Dallas. New Jersey forward Randy McKay, who shortly afterward would be pushing a baby carriage as he and his family left the building, stood at the center of the dressing room and answered a final inquiry.
"Are you expecting this to be a long series?" someone asked.
"Definitely," said McKay.