Kesler calls ‘Hawks forward Ladd ‘a coward’

The budding rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks just got a little bit more heated.

Following Vancouver’s 5-1 victory over Chicago on Saturday night, Canucks forward Ryan Kesler had harsh words for Blackhawks winger Andrew Ladd.

“He’s a coward and that’s the way it is,” Kesler told Team 1040 radio in Vancouver.

The two dropped the gloves in a first-period fight on Saturday, a bout that Kesler said was payback for a hit from behind in last season’s second-round playoff meeting between the two teams.

“It stared last year in the playoffs,” Kesler said. “He hit me (and) cross-checked me in the face when I wasn’t looking. At least he was man enough to hit me when I was looking this time.”

Ladd landed the hardest punch during the fight, cutting Kesler below his left eye and motioning to it as the officials separated the pair.

The two teams don’t meet again until after the Olympic break when the Canucks visit Chicago on Mar. 5.

Vancouver has won four straight games and sits second place in the Northwest Division behind the Colorado Avalanche.

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