Paul MacLean was a delightful guy to be around in his playing days as a goal-scoring winger in the NHL. He was a serious competitor, but he didn’t take himself too seriously.
So it’s no shock he charmed reporters after drawing the ire of the Montreal Canadiens and the excitable media corps covering that team.
MacLean outraged the Habs by referring to Raphael Diaz as simply “No. 61” while taking to the media. That alleged slight occurred whole MacLean was commenting on the play that saw Montreal forward Lars Eller crushed by Senators behemoth Eric Gryba after taking a suicide pass from Diaz.
“I don't even know who No. 61 is on my team,” MacLean quipped. “Are you going to hold that against me? I'm from Antigonish, N.S. It's a small town.
“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.”
The Canadiens disagreed. Montreal winger Brandon Prust backed Diaz by saying he and his teammates “don't care what that bug-eyed, fat walrus has to say.”
“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 offense to that.’
It was suggested MacLean was doing a classic job of deflecting attention from his team to himself after a tough loss.
“I'll have to look it up in the manual,” MacLean told reporters. “What page is it on?”