Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean steals spotlight ahead of Game 3 against Montreal Canadiens
Paul MacLean took centre stage Saturday.
While most of the players took advantage of the option not to skate in an optional session at Scotiabank Place, the Senators coach did his best to make sure the spotlight remained on him as this series shifts to Ottawa for Game 3 Sunday night.
Though the Senators' performance in 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 Friday left a lot to be desired, MacLean reinforced during a 13-minute session with the media that he's happy with where the club is at -- tied 1-1 and coming home.
But MacLean didn't stop there.
He made it clear he's got nothing but respect for Habs coach Michel Therrien, had never been called "bug-eyed," a "walrus" or "fat" and won't ever get involved in any kind of numbers game even when it comes to his own team.
Yup, this was MacLean at his best.
First, he wanted to make sure nobody in the dressing room pushes the panic button and throws in the towel because of one lousy effort against the Habs.
"It's game by game. It's day by day. We're disappointed we lost the game," said MacLean. "We had an opportunity to take a real stranglehold (Friday), but you come home and now we have to take charge at home. We have to take care of our business.
"It's not going to be easy. It's going to be a difficult thing. We're in a position that we can control it."
The sound bites heated up Friday when Therrien told reporters he didn't like that MacLean blamed Habs defenceman Raphael Diaz for setting up injured centre Lars Eller with a pass that allowed defenceman Eric Gryba a chance for an open-ice hit.
MacLean referred to Diaz as "61" in his post-game newser and Therrien indicated that was a sign of disrespect. MacLean said if there's any "war of words" happening, he's not involved.
"I don't even know if there's any war going on," said MacLean. "I didn't say anything to him at all. I haven't said anything about Michel Therrien other than he's an excellent coach."
Told he didn't even know who No. 61 on Montreal was, MacLean didn't miss a beat.
"I don't even know who No. 61 is on my team (Andre Benoit). Are you going to hold that against me? I'm from Antigonish, N.S. It's a small town," said MacLean.
"I don't know. There's an awful lot of number combinations and different names. If I hurt his feelings, 'Oh my God, I apologize for that,' because I didn't know who the player on the other team's name was ... If that's a battle of words, I don't see that.
"They're going to say what they want to say. Like I said, I'm just working really hard at coaching my team and I'm not trying to coach the other team or anything else."
Though he was trying to stay out of any verbal battle, MacLean did react to a pre-game quote from Habs winger Brandon Prust that claimed Montreal players "don't care what that bug-eyed, fat walrus has to say."
MacLean dismissed those nasty words by Prust.
"Well ... 'Bug-Eyed?' I've never been called that before. That's a new one," said MacLean. "Walrus? Ahhh, that's too easy. But I will tell you one thing -- I'm not fat. I might be husky, but I'm not fat. So, I took offence to that."
Now, MacLean needs to make sure the Senators find their offence on the ice to get back on track in this series. The club's record at home was strong this season and they can head back to Montreal Thursday in a good position by getting two wins.
The Senators' effort Friday wasn't great, but if there's any pressure on the players in this terrific 417 Series, MacLean isn't going to let them feel any of it. He is deflecting the attention to himself.
That's the coach's job, right?
"I'll have to look it up in the manual," said MacLean. "What page is it on?"
Probably the same one that says the Senators have to turn the page and get back to winning Sunday night.