Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean has drawn two very different comparisons to a walrus since taking over as bench boss here in the capital.
When Senators fans call him “The Paulrus,” it’s a term of endearment, a nod to his signature moustachioed look.
Amateur marine biologist and Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust’s take Friday was obviously much less endearing.
We all know the story: After towering Ottawa defenceman Eric Gryba levelled the much smaller Lars Eller in Thursday night’s game at the Bell Centre, MacLean came to the defence of his rookie defender.
Gryba delivered a clean check, he suggested after the game, adding “I thought player 61, if I’m … was it Eller that got hit? I’m really mad at player 61, whoever he is.”
“Because he passed me the puck in the middle of the rink when I wasn’t looking, and that’s always been a dangerous place.”
A little insensitive, given the shocking amount of blood that splashed out of Eller’s face onto the ice in front of 20,000+ fans and, as Habs coach Michel Therrien pointed out, the player’s parents in the stands? Sure, you could make that argument. Any time a player gets hurt to that extent in such a graphic way, emotions will be running very, very high. That might be why Gryba earned a two-game suspension for a play pretty much every hockey expert outside of Montreal referred to as a clean hockey hit.
Here’s what Therrien said after the game: “Inappropriate comment. No respect for the player on the ice who was bleeding. No respect for his family in the stands. When he compared that to a hockey hit, the comparison he made was with the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. This is why we’ve got new rules, to avoid those hits when a player is vulnerable. That’s why we’ve got new rules.”
Well within the bounds of reason.
Now here’s what Prust said at Friday morning’s skate ahead of the Habs’ 3-1 victory to knot the series 1-1: “We don’t really care what that bug-eyed, fat walrus has to say.”
While Prust would have been the super cool king of the playground with that pithy remark, you have to wonder what the National Hockey League thinks about a player taking cheap shots at an opposing team coach’s physical appearance.
Prust could have gone with “classless” or ” offensive” or any number of other descriptions for MacLean’s comments. Instead, he took a run at MacLean himself in the most immature of ways.
Here’s what By-Law 17 of the NHL Constitution says:
“The League” just closed out a day filled with clips of, and discussions about, a player calling a coach a fat ocean-dweller. Given the NHL has imposed fines and suspensions in the past for personal attacks off the ice (re: Sean Avery), should Prust be able to just walk away?
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