Apparently, Paul MacLean doesn’t have an issue with Brandon Prust calling him a bug-eyed walrus.
But the Ottawa Senators coach does not agree with the Montreal Canadiens forward’s assessment that he is overweight.
“Bug-eyed? I’ve never been called that before. That’s a new one. Walrus? Nah — that’s too easy,” said MacLean on Saturday. “But I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not fat. I might be husky, but I’m not fat. So I took offence to that.”
Prust escalated a war of words between the two teams on Friday morning when he said, “We don’t care what that bug-eyed fat walrus has to say” prior to Game 2.
Saturday’s cover of Le Journal de Montreal featured a MacLean-walrus photo with the headline “A bug-eyed walrus.”
Several members of the Canadiens were upset that MacLean defended his own player Eric Gryba, for his controversial hit on Lars Eller in Game 1. MacLean suggested that part of the blame for the hit should be laid at the feet of Montreal defenceman Raphael Diaz, whose outlet pass to Eller put him in a vulnerable position. On Saturday, MacLean defended his organization and bristled off the suggestions that he was intentionally disrespectful towards Lars Eller’s injury.
“I was just trying to give the whole picture of what happened. If that is disrespectful they feel to them, then I guess we feel disrespected from the fact that all they want to do is talk about how dirty of a player and how vicious a hit it was from Eric Gryba. So that respect thing goes maybe both ways in this thing,” said MacLean.
Gryba also spoke to the media for the first time since he was assessed a two-game suspension for the hit on Friday. The Senators defenceman says he never had any intention of targeting Eller’s head on the play.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the league’s decision on that, but there’s nothing I can do on it,” Gryba said. “I still feel it was a shoulder-to-shoulder body check and a hockey play, but it’s out of my hands.”
Certain members of the Canadiens were also upset that MacLean refused to identify Diaz by name — only calling him No. 61 in press conferences. MacLean joked that there are too many names and numbers for him to keep everyone straight.
“I don’t even know who No. 61 is on my team, so you’re going to hold that against me?” he said. “There are an awful lot of different number combinations and different names. If I hurt his feelings — oh my God, I apologize for that — that I didn’t know the player on the other team’s name was. But if that’s the battle of words, I don’t see that. They’re going to say what they want to say. I’m just working real hard at coaching my team. I’m not trying to coach the other team.”