Rangers' coach on practice spy scandal: 'Habs lucky it didn't escalate'
Published Sunday, May 25, 2014 1:02PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 25, 2014 6:56PM EDT
NEW YORK - Rangers' coach Alain Vigneault has fired back at the Canadiens, saying there is no such thing as a gentleman's agreement that coaches not watch the other team practice on off-days.
"There’s no rule, or unwritten law," said Vigneault. "If the Canadiens wanted that, they just had to call me or the GM and I would have said the same thing that I said on two other occasions: 'No problem. We won’t watch your practice but if you want to watch ours it doesn’t bother me at all.'"
Montreal coach Michel Therrien was unhappy Saturday that two New York assistant coaches were on hand for the team's off-day skate, asking them in no uncertain terms to leave.
Vigneault responded Sunday by saying his staff was treated unfairly.
He said there was no agreement in place and he called such deals the exception rather than the rule in hockey.
If they happen, he said it's because the opposing coach or GM calls to ask for it.
Vigneault called the Montreal behaviour regrettable, adding it was lucky the situation did not escalate.
The incident began when Therrien called on Rangers’ assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson to leave the stands during a Canadiens' practice in Madison Square Garden.
Habs’ assistant coach Jean-Jaques Daigneault’s request had previously been ignored, leading Therrien to open a door at the end of the ice and address Samuelsson personally.
The two exchanged harsh words and Samuelsson eventually left, only to be replaced by Rangers’ GM Glen Sather, who sat up higher in the stands, staying until the end, while another member of the Rangers’ brass, Daniel Lacroix also watched on from another section.
The Canadiens are expected to replace the suspended Brandon Prust with speedy rookie Michael Bournival in Game Four, which starts at 8 p.m. Sunday in New York.
Nathan Beaulieu is expected to be replaced by veteran Francis Bouillon who will play alongside Mike Weaver on the third defence pairing.
Rangers’ forward Derek Stepan will miss after undergoing surgery Saturday to address a fracture in his jaw caused by the hit by Prust.
Rangers' Derick Brassard is expected to suit up after returning from a shoulder ailment caused by a Mike Weaver hit earlier in the sreries.
Brassard was the subject of another bit of discord between the teams, as the Rangers felt that the Habs should not have mentioned that Brassard had a shoulder injury as it might lead opposing players to target that part of his body.
"We knew exactly what happened to Derick Brassard," said Therrien in a press conference. "He’s a good player, an important player. That line had a lot of success against the Penguins. Ther’es no free pass in the playoffs our intention is not to hut the guy. But we will play him hard like we play all the New York Rangers hard."
Therrien also noted that the Rangers' didn't give "free passes to P.K. Subban with all the cheap shots he got, or Brendan Gallagher."
Therrien said that he had not spoken to Vigneault during the playoffs but said that the two are "very close friends," and that "it's a privilege to be friends with him."
"When it's finished we'll have a beer together but now we're competing for the same thing."
The Canadiens, who won in New York 3-2 Thursday on the strength of a fine performance by goaltender Dustin Tokarski, hope to even up the best-of-seven series with their second win Sunday.
-With a file from The Canadian Press