Paul MacLean's Comments on Lars Eller Injury Out of Line
After a gruesome injury to a player, it's usually best for the opposing team's head coach to give a bland "best wishes" and "unfortunate play" type of comment when questioned by reporters.
Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean, however, took the low road.
Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller was the subject of a gruesome injury in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Ottawa Senators when Senators defenseman Eric Gryba blindsided him with a bruising hit. Eller seemed to fall violently on his face, and blood spewed out onto the ice.
According to Adam Gretz of CBS Sports, MacLean was quick to play the blame game, and not on a member of his own team. Instead, he chose to point the finger at Canadiens defenseman Raphael Diaz, who MacLean claims led his teammate right into the spot for a dangerous hit.
I'm really mad at player 61 (Diaz), whoever he is. Because he passed (Eller) the puck in the middle of the rink when (he) wasn't looking, and that's always been a dangerous place. As far as I know, ever since I've been playing this game, that's a dangerous place to be. Bad things happen.
For MacLean, there's just no need for that type of comment so soon after the injury. At the time of his comments, he didn't know of Eller's condition at the hospital or if he'd even suit up to play hockey again.
It's not usually oft for hockey coaches to point the finger at a player on the opposing team. But right after a horrible injury that is dominating NHL headlines? Come on.
It's not even about whether MacLean was right or not. Simply speaking your mind on such a touchy matter is never a good idea until you can properly weigh the effects of what comes out of your mouth.
Take a look for yourself at the following video.
WARNING: The injury is gruesome and is not suitable for all viewers.
Perhaps Diaz was leading his teammate into a tough position when he made a "suicide pass" leading Eller into a waiting opponent. But when it comes down to it, Gryba was in control of his body and could've done much more to prevent hitting Eller in the head.
Canadiens forward Brandon Prust didn't take MacLean's comments too lightly, according to Gretz, poking fun at the coach's signature looks in the process.
"We don't care what that bug-eyed fat walrus has to say," Prust said after the game.
Ouch. I think he may have gotten you there, Paul.
Were MacLean's comments blaming Diaz out of line?
Compare it to football. If Tom Brady throws a pass down the middle of the field to Rob Gronkowski and a defender takes out his head, a flag would be thrown every time on the defense and nobody would blame Brady for the injury.
I understand hockey is a different sport with different rules, and perhaps some Canadiens fans or regular hockey observers might agree that Diaz was in the wrong by making the pass.
But if you're a head coach of the opposing team, there are things you can and can't say about a play like that.
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