CALGARY – If only the video was as clear as Brad Treliving’s thoughts on it.
"Any talk that there’s a malicious intent in the Gio hit (on Connor McDavid) is complete garbage," said the Flames GM Friday of a collision involving captain Mark Giordano. "Let’s just put an end to that. It was a highly-contested game. A really hard, emotional game.
"I think we’re looking for stuff, if that’s a topic. He doesn’t stick his knee out. There’s nothing there. I get everything kind of gets sort of built up, but (it’s a) non-issue in my mind."
McDavid felt differently, as the Edmonton Oilers star was furious about the referees missing a clear interference penalty in the second period of Wednesday’s game.
He was also likely angered by how close he felt it came to being the type of hit that could have reinjured the knee he spent all summer rehabbing.
As McDavid attempted to skate by Giordano in the neutral zone, the Flames defenceman reached out with an arm and his left leg to try slowing the superstar down.
It has the effect of spinning the player, diffusing a rush in which McDavid had chipped the puck past Giordano.
McDavid was furious on the bench, snapping his stick.
He showed tremendous class and restraint afterwards by refusing to fuel yet another Battle of Alberta debate.
“I don’t want to start a big media circus at all,” said McDavid following a 4-3 shootout loss that had emotions running high all night. “He’s obviously a guy that plays hard and that’s that.”
Oilers coach Dave Tippett pointed out Thursday that Giordano didn’t stick out his knee and wasn’t guilty of crossing the line.
He’s right — there was no knee, which is key in the discussion.
But that hasn’t stopped many in Oilers nation from being furious over how perilous a position it almost put their captain in.
"I saw Tips’ comments yesterday and we’re talking about a top coach who is a very clear thinker," said Treliving. "There’s nothing to it. You’re talking about a Norris Trophy winner and top player. When your 106 and you’re still in the league, you’ve probably had a few things in your career that have gone on."
Giordano, 36, spoke Friday for the first time since the game and denied any wrongdoing.
"I saw the puck coming up the wall and I thought I was going to get that puck, to be honest," he said. "But we all know what kind of speed he possess, and he’s a bit faster than I am. Last second he chipped it by me. I tried to get a piece of him with my hip and throw my arm out there as well. I guess you could say it was interference or a penalty, but there was no intention. Our shins or ankles clipped, but it was a hockey play. It was unintentional, the collision with our ankles or our shins. He might have been upset about the non-call."
Given the off-season McDavid had, no one could blame him for being upset the play was borderline dangerous.
After all, the evening had everyone on edge.
"We made eye contact a few times throughout the game," said Giordano when asked if they exchanged words. "You could tell he was upset. Hey man, it’s a heated game. We play a lot against each other, a lot of shifts against each other. That’s what makes the battle so good between us. I think there are going to be moments like that every game.
"He’s an exceptional player and he’s so good at cutting. He cut really quick and I tried to get a piece of him. I didn’t stick out a knee or anything."
They meet again Saturday in Calgary.