Paul Maurice is salty, folks, and it all started with a pair of hits from Anton Stralman.
Late in the second period of the Winnipeg Jets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning game Thursday, Stralman hit Nikolaj Ehlers with what appeared to be a knee-on-knee collision. Ehlers hobbled off the ice and moments later Stralman hammered Bryan Little with an even bigger open-ice hit. Little was injured on the play and was forced to leave the game. He was unable to return.
Blake Wheeler then jumped Stralman and the two tussled, but the Swedish blueliner was only given two minutes for roughing. The Jets head coach proceeded to rip into the officials and his team was assessed a bench minor.
Maurice coached Stralman, who is not known for his physical play, during his rookie season when the two were with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When the two teams returned for the start of the third period, Maurice still hadn’t cooled off. He continued to chew out the refs and got into a stare down with one of them. Before the puck even dropped to start the third period, Maurice was ejected.
The Jets were down 4-1 after 40 minutes, but battled back to tie the game then took a 5-4 lead late in the third period. Tampa made it 5-5 and sent the game to overtime, and then a shootout where Steven Stamkos ripped home the winner for the Lightning.
After the contest, Maurice reiterated his thoughts on the hit, saying it was his day-in day-out relationships with the players that had him both so concerned and so heated.
“I work with these guys every day and you care about them,” said Maurice to reporters. “You care about their wives and their families. Bryan Little’s getting his neck X-rayed and I seem to be considerably more concerned about the result of that hit than anyone else.”