War of words heating up, Paul MacLean labeled ‘Bug-eyed fat walrus’
Entering the final week of the regular season, many salivated over the prospect of a first-round series between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the potential of Canada’s two most historic teams going head-to-head in a playoff battle for the first time since 1979 — not to mention, the Maple Leafs’ first postseason appearance since 2004 — the series seemed like an ideal first-round matchup.
However, the Canadiens ended up winning the Northeast Division and drew the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed, the Ottawa Senators.
In hindsight, the intensity level of the playoffs might be better off for it.
Following Ottawa’s Game 1 victory on Thursday night, a storm is beginning to brew between the division rivals. If the war of words is any indication, this series might be on course to be a memorable one.
Unfortunately, the central point of this conflict revolves around a gruesome injury sustained by Montreal forward Lars Eller. While attempting to receive a pass out of the Canadiens’ defensive zone, Eller was hit by Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba. Eller was knocked unconscious on the play and remained motionless on the ice in a pool of blood for a few minutes.
He ultimately required a stretcher to leave the game and was hospitalized overnight (he has since been released and is in good health).
Gryba was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
After the game, Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean defended his player and stated Raphael Diaz — the Montreal player who sent the pass to Eller — should have been more careful.