BOSTON — The traditional post-series handshake between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens wasn’t the symbol of sportsmanship the NHL might be looking for.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic said something to anger Montreal’s Dale Weise and Alexei Emelin after the Canadiens beat the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Although no one involved in the exchange would reveal exactly Lucic said, according to reports he threatened to retaliate against them next season.
And he isn’t sorry for saying it.
“What’s said on the ice stays on the ice, and unfortunately that code is broken,” Lucic told reporters at the TD Garden on Friday. “It’s unfortunate that it blows up to what it is now. I’m not the first guy to do it; I’m not the last guy to do it. I’m not sorry that I did it. I’m a guy that plays on emotion, and this is a game of emotions. Sometimes you make decisions out of emotion that might not be the best ones. That’s what it is.”
The Bruins finished the regular season with the NHL’s best record, but their quest for a third trip to the Stanley Cup finals in four seasons ended on Wednesday night with a 3-1 loss to Montreal. After the game, the teams went through what appeared to be the standard handshake line.
But Lucic’s comments still rankled in Montreal’s locker room, when Weise said, “(The Bruins) had couple guys – sorry, just one – that couldn’t put it behind them and be a good loser. Milan Lucic had a few things to say to a couple guys.”
The Canadiens have since moved on to the conference finals against the New York Rangers. The Bruins spent Friday emptying their lockers, and Lucic wasn’t backing down a bit.
“I didn’t make the NHL because I accepted losing, or I accepted failure, and I think that’s what’s gotten me to this point and made me the player that I am,” he said. “Like I said, I’m not the first guy to do it, and I’m sure I won’t be the last.”
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli also had trouble accepting the loss, saying he still believes he has a roster that can add a championship to its 2011 Stanley Cup title. There won’t be a major roster overhaul this summer, he said.
“This is a very good team,” he said. “There’s some tweaks here and there but it’s a very good team; strong down the middle, strong in the nets, good character, good core.”Lucic, who is signed through the 2015-16 season, will remain, along with centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci and defensemen Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug. Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton are the team’s top unrestricted free agents.
“If you look at the guys, most of the guys are still going to be with us next year,” Bergeron said. “And I think we have a great group of guys, a great core and we have the experience that you need in playoffs. And I think this year hopefully makes us eager to do it next year.”
EASTERN FINALS: The Montreal Canadiens can rest easy. They won’t be disrespected by their next playoff opponent,
“I know they went into the Boston series saying that they felt Boston didn’t respect them. We respect Montreal quite a bit,” Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said Friday before traveling north. “They’re not only a very strong team, but they’re a team that has beaten the No. 1 team in the NHL right now, a team that went to the Stanley Cup finals last year, a team that beat the New York Rangers in five games last year. We know that we’ve got our hands full.
“They’re the favorites. Against Tampa Bay and against Boston, they were the underdogs, they didn’t have home ice. Now, they’re going into this series very likely expected to win. Pressure does funny things to different people. I’m anxious to see how we’re going to react. I’m sure they’re anxious to see how they’re going to act.”