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Sabres take defense after Skrudland ran Hasek
Saturday, June 12, 1999

Ken Hitchcock doesn't want to hear any more whining from Lindy Ruff about the Stars' roughshod treatment of Dominik Hasek. Hitchcock was quite adamant about Ruff's complaints in a news conference yesterday in Buffalo.

Ruff implied that if Dallas was going to continue to "run" Hasek the Sabres would respond by going after Ed Belfour.

"If they want to run Eddie, that's up to Eddie to take care of," Hitchcock said. "We'll just go 200 feet and do what we have to do at the other end."

Hitchcock also said that he believes Hasek is cheating and getting away with it in this series. "I'm not talking about the Skrudland hit. I know that was a penalty," Hitchcock said. "If he goes out to play the puck, he needs to be treated like all the other goaltenders. But if he goes out of the crease to protect ice or to run interference for his players, hey, that's our puck, too. We have a right to go get it." Hitchcock claimed that the Dominator was interfering with Jamie Langenbrunner at the end of the first period. He is insistent that the referees watch Hasek's use of his stick. "If he lays his stick on the ice, which he does all the time, that's illegal. Other players can't do that," Hitchcock cried. "That's cheating. He uses that as an extra advantage against low shots. In our opinion, everything he's doing is by design." Lindy criticized the Stars of cheating on faceoffs before this series even began. And he said yesterday that if the Stars continue to run Hasek, that he cannot control how his players react (meaning that Belfour is fair game).

Mike Peca in his interview yesterday, said that if Mike Modano does play tonight with what has been diagnosed from being a jammed wrist to a broken one, that the Sabres would exploit his weakness. "We have to go after the other team's weaknesses," Peca said. He indicated that Modano would be hit and his wrist would be tested. Hitchcock, when told of these comments, said that if the Sabres go after the Stars number one man, that they'd do the same: Go after Hasek.

The Battle of the Mouths is in full swing. Tonight, the two teams start swinging at each other.