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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Bruins had a player hit high with what looked like an elbow Thursday night in the third period against Montreal.
Considering the league’s recent crackdown on hits to the head, the play could be deemed worthy of a suspension.
But Friday after practice at Ristuccia Arena, there were no threats from the coach about Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban needing to worry about “getting his” and no descriptions from the general manager of Subban as a dirty player. There were no pleas for a ban.
In fact, the player hit high by Subban in Boston’s 2-1 win, David Krejci, took the high road after he had more than 12 hours to cool off, collected his thoughts and, probably, got a little coaching from his teammates and Bruins staff members.
“That’s why I didn’t want to talk last night. I didn’t want people to ask me if I’m OK or I didn’t want to talk about Subban. It was a clean hit and I’m going to leave it at that. That’s all,” said Krejci after practice.
The play earned Subban a two-minute minor for elbowing.
“I’m sure a lot of hits happen during the game,” Krejci continued. “This one was maybe a bigger one than others, but you know, it happens. So …”
You can add the Bruins’ response to the hit to the list of things that are different between them and the Vancouver Canucks right below the item about Boston prevailing in last June’s Stanley Cup Final and the Canucks leaving their home arena empty-handed. In the aftermath of the Brad Marchand-Sami Salo hit last Saturday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli were appalled at the public comments made by their Vancouver counterparts – Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis.
Even with word leaking through sources to La Presse in Montreal that Subban would not face a ban for the hit, the Bruins stuck to their “no whining” philosophy.
“I think when you look at it, it’s one of those things, honestly, that’s hard to swing one way or the other. That’s why we have to let the league look at it and see how they define it,” said Julien. “But honestly, I looked at it. You could look at it either way. Is that bad of a hit, and is there an elbow involved?
“I didn’t waste too much time dissecting it because the league’s going to make a decision anyway whether it’s worthy or not. So as I said before, we don’t lobby. So we’re just going to move on here and let them take care of business.”
In the heat of the moment, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference thought the hit was dirty enough for him to go after Subban, who refused to defend himself. The Canadiens wound up with a power play that they turned into their lone goal of the night. Ference described the hit as “a little high,” and since it was on one of the Bruins’ premier players, the blueliner said he needed to send a message to his Montreal counterpart.
Given the opportunity to classify Subban with an unsavory name the way many Canucks have done Bruins players last season and this, Ference would only explain what he thought of Subban’s style like this:
“It’s just that it’s one of those things I think that’s good about our sport. If you’re going to play a certain style and hit other team’s top players like that, you don’t have to fight every time, but there’s a bit of a trend. If you do it enough times, I don’t know about turtling against the other team’s smallest defenseman. That’s the only thing. He can play however he wants. It’s none of my business. I’m just saying if it was a guy on our team, it would probably be frowned upon.”
We’re unlikely to see Subban in black and gold any time soon. Just like we’re unlikely to hear the Bruins practice the form of propagandizing the Canucks subscribed to prior to Marchand’s five-game ban. People around the region and the NHL will think what they want about the Bruins, they just can’t accuse them of not practicing what they preach.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.