@Matt - thank you! Your entry prompted me to look again at comment-template.php. My question was answered there. I'll elaborate in case anyone else is trying to figure this out...
I wanted to get rid of "says" which appears behind each commentator's name. I probably should have been more specific in my opening thread, sorry everyone. Anyway I don't think that little bit of text should be forced in the new template tag, and frankly it was really bugging me. For some reason though, I couldn't see if there was a class attached to that text (tried both the Web Dev toolbar and Firebug). After another look at the core template I saw that there is.
So for anyone else who doesn't want that either (trivial as it may be) and who also doesn't want to mod a core file, add this to your stylsheet: