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Eisner Is Acting a Bit Devilish

June 04, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, an infrequent visitor to the Arrowhead Pond in recent years, finally found his way into the Mighty Duck dressing room after the surprising Ducks reached the Stanley Cup finals.

And now he has crashed the New Jersey Devils' room too.

"I think Mr. Eisner has planned the parade," Devil Coach Pat Burns said during a conference call Tuesday night. "All the players were chuckling about it."

Burns' comments were in reference to quotes attributed to Eisner after the Ducks' 1-0 overtime victory in Game 4 on Monday night evened the best-of-seven series at two games each going into Game 5 on Thursday night at East Rutherford, N.J.

"We're going to end it in six," Eisner was quoted as saying in a column by Larry Brooks of the New York Post under the headline, "Ducks talkin' quack." "We're going to end it here on Saturday night. We deserve to win it and we will win it."

Eisner, whose team often played to apathetic, half-empty houses during the regular season, also took time to disparage Devil fans.

"I was in New Jersey for the first two games," he was quoted as saying in the same article, "and the difference between our fans in Anaheim was just so obvious. I don't want to get into trouble, but our fans here were on fire and the fans in New Jersey were dead; they were dead.

"Even our fans were better than theirs were."

Said Burns: "We'll see about that Thursday night."


After two overtime losses at the Pond, the good news for the Devils is, they're home. They are 10-1 in Continental Airlines Arena in the playoffs.

"We always felt that we were a better team on the road," goaltender Martin Brodeur said of the Devils, who are 4-6 outside the Meadowlands in the playoffs. "I think this year, Pat came in and made it a big point to be a tough team to play in our building, make people really suffer when they come in, knowing it's going to be harder and harder to win in New Jersey. We took a lot of pride in that.

"Every time we didn't play well at home, it was unacceptable."


The Devils remain hopeful that veteran center Joe Nieuwendyk will be able to play Thursday night. Upon his arrival from Anaheim, Burns said he'd been told that Nieuwendyk and Turner Stevenson both skated Tuesday.

"He's an all-star-caliber player that's missing from our lineup -- our top faceoff guy, one of our best leaders," winger Jamie Langenbrunner said of Nieuwendyk. "It would be a huge lift to have him back."


John Madden, who led the Devils with 14 points after 14 playoff games, has one in the last seven games, none in the finals.

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