Montreal Canadiens winger Brandon Prust has apologized for comments made to the media about referee Brad Watson after Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“First off, I’d like to apologize to Brad Watson and the rest of the officials in the NHL,” Prust began.
“If I caused any embarrassments or headaches, it was definitely uncalled for. We got in a heated exchange that should’ve stayed between us.”
“I’ve always played by the code on and off the ice. I’ve been a pretty honest player. Sunday, I crossed the line. What happened out there should have stayed out there. It was tough, it was emotional. I had just got into a fight, I just threw my elbow pad at their bench. We just lost 6-2. Five minutes later, I have to go do interviews. I wasn’t myself. My emotions were — my heart was beating, I was agitated. I shouldn’t have been doing interviews in the first place. I don’t know if anybody’s ever played the game or gotten into a hockey fight, lost in their own building during the playoffs. It’s a tough thing. I’m an emotional player. I always have been and I’m in the NHL basically because of my emotion. Usually I use it to the best of my advantage, but on Sunday I didn’t.”
The real response will come tomorrow. There’s been no word of any fines from the league. As this is a Hockey Operations issue, it wouldn’t follow the standard protocol that we see with Player Safety decisions. In fact, the league may not release any information even if fines are levied; in the past, that’s been left up to the teams.
As for the calls on the ice, those will be highly scrutinized. Will Prust lose the benefit of the doubt on marginal calls, and see opposing players allowed to take greater liberties? Will the referees be so conscious of avoiding that impression that they call it even more tightly? Tomorrow’s referees are not in an enviable position. Whichever way they call it, each whistle will be replayed, reviewed, and criticized.
Brandon Prust hopes there's no fallout with other officials: "That's just a fingers-crossed scenario, but who knows what's going to happen?"
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 5, 2015
Unfortunately for Prust — and for the officials — this issue is far from over.