Montreal Canadien’s head coach Michel Therrien took some time to answer, or give the run around, about his line-up for game four against the New York Rangers. He also wouldn’t give much of a comment regarding Brandon Prust’s suspension for his hit on Derek Stepan. Prust maintained his innocence in the court of public opinion and acts as if the fans will not see his premeditation. He openly admits to planning a big hit the day before the game. Whenever you go into a game looking for a big hit, things never go as simply as you think they will. Afterall, he’s in the NHL, he knows better, he’s a professional. At least that’s what he said about Chris Kreider.
Q. Can you just talk about what happened with Ulf (Samuelsson), and whether or not there is a certain understanding with your team about practice days etiquette?
COACH THERRIEN: There is always a gentleman’s agreement between two teams and the general manager that coaches are not allowed to attend practices between games. Game day is different. So when we saw those assistant coaches there, they were not supposed to be there, so we let them know.
Q. A couple players said they fully expect Stepan to play tomorrow. Do you share that opinion?
COACH THERRIEN: I don’t know. I talked to a doctor. When a player gets an operation like that it’s really risky to play a player, but I don’t know.
Q. Could you give us your thoughts on the suspension?
COACH THERRIEN: If you agree or not, you’ve got to respect the decision and you’ve got to move on. That is the most important thing. We’ve decided to move on. Brandon Prust is going to serve his suspension, but for us we’re moving on.
Q. Can you explain why the gentleman’s agreement exists? Why you wouldn’t typically watch practice?
COACH THERRIEN: It’s respect for coaches that want to make adjustments between games, and it’s always been like that and that’s the way it is.
Q. Did you have a conversation with Brandon Prust after the suspension, and would you let us into what that discussion was?
COACH THERRIEN: Yes, I did.
Q. What was the gist of the conversation?
COACH THERRIEN: That is between us.
Q. David Desharnais, can you compare his game from October until now and how he’s brought himself through all of that?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, this is a young man that is getting better and better. You know, he had a tough start with our team, but he’s battling hard. He’s competing. He’s an important player for us. I have a lot of respect for his work ethic. He’s an important part of the success of this hockey team, and a lot of credit goes to him because of the way that kid’s competing every game. He’s good defensively. He’s got poise with pucks. He’s getting better and better on face-offs. He’s good defensively. So we really like his game.
Q. Could you just discuss what the tradeoff between Prust and Bournival will be?
COACH THERRIEN: First of all, I haven’t made my final decision regarding the lineup.
Q. Just in case?
COACH THERRIEN: You know what, because it’s tough for me to talk about that question because I’m not sure what type of lineup they’re going to put in tomorrow night, with all due respect.
Q. Brandon, which analysis or interpretation did you plead to the league for your hit and how did you defend yourself?
BRANDON PRUST: The hit itself wasn’t really a topic in the hearing. It was all about the timing of it. For me, it’s my first shift of the game. I’m trying to create some energy. I want to get out there and get some body checks in. I see Step with the puck, and I’m kind of backtracking, and I do a good job of getting in front of him, other than coming from the side. I try to skate in front of him, and stop, and come back into him. Kept my skate is on the ice, my shoulder into his chest. I didn’t leave my feet. It’s all about the timing. It’s a fraction of a second. The NHL deems a hit late around .6 seconds, and I’m at .8 seconds, so you know, that’s on me. It’s late, but for me my focus was on trying to make a good, clean body check and not leave my feet, my elbows tucked, and everything about the actual contact is clean, it’s just late.
Q. What do you make of the fractured jaw?
BRANDON PRUST: It’s an unfortunate injury and unfortunate for him and unfortunate for me. I’m not out there trying to injure anybody, and Step’s a friend of mine. Like I said, my main focus of my hit was keeping my elbow tucked and trying to make sure I got him in the chest. By no means, whether they’re friends or not, you don’t want to injure anybody. You know, it’s very unfortunate, and, you know.
Q. Brandon, do you agree with the league’s decision?
BRANDON PRUST: Yeah, you know, if there’s no injury, I was thinking — I was thinking no games. Once I heard that he had a broken jaw, I was thinking one, maybe two games. Yeah, once I heard about the injury, even when I looked at the hit after the game, I wanted to see the hit, and the timing never really came into mind. I was looking at the contact. And I thought it was pretty good. Then the next day I heard that it was all about the lateness of the hit. Once we started watching that, it’s fractions of a second. It’s my first shift and first game back at MSG and emotions are going. I want to get out there and create contact, and that’s kind of my main goal. Especially that is the focus and what we talk about, get out and get physical. Unfortunately, my timing was off.
Q. I was going to follow up on that. Being the first shift of the game, you guys being down 2-0 in the series, having lost your goalie, did you leave the bench thinking I’ve got to send a message now, and it ended up the way it unfortunately did?
BRANDON PRUST: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t when I left the bench. It was the day before. It was after Game 2, you know. I want to come out and create energy for my team. We’re coming in and we just lost two games at home and we have to turn the series around. You know, I’m not looking to turn around by an injury. I’m looking to turn it around by being physical and making sure we’re on the forecheck and making sure I’m playing my style of hockey. By no means was I looking to injure anybody. I just wanted to create some body contact out there.
Q. You’ve played in this town. You’ve said you love this town. This town has loved you. That’s probably in the past tense. You’re being called an awful lot of nasty names right now by Rangers fans. Have you heard any of it? Is it all white noise or can you block all of that stuff?
BRANDON PRUST: Yeah, I haven’t — during playoffs I’ve been kind of staying off the Twitter, so I know, obviously, New York fans aren’t happy, and rightfully so. They’re passionate fans and protect their players just like the organization does, just like Montreal fans would do for me. So it’s a good thing. I’m not too worried. They’re not my fans anymore. I’m in Montreal now and those are my fans. That’s kind of who I care about. I remember my time here and I still love this city and appreciate this organization, but I’m not too focused on getting ready and coming back — I’m focused on getting ready and coming back for Game 6. I’m not worried about all that other stuff.
Q. Have you reached out and spoken to Step since that hit?
BRANDON PRUST: I did text Step. Originally I wasn’t going to. I didn’t think he was injured really. But once I found out that he had a broken jaw, I reached out to him. I texted him. I told him I feel awful. I didn’t want to injure anybody, especially a friend of mine. I told him exactly what I told you guys. It was my first shift. I’m just trying to create some body contact. I feel awful. You never want to hurt anybody, and I hope he recovers well.
Q. Was there a return text?
BRANDON PRUST: Yeah, it was short, but, yeah. I think he understands where I’m coming from. It’s a tough situation right now.
Q. Just further to your contact with Derek, does this in any way compromise your friendship? There are no friends during the playoffs, but…
BRANDON PRUST: I don’t think we’re too worried about that. That’s not really an issue. I’m sure things will heal with time. I don’t think we’re worried about something like that right now.
Q. Brandon, a lot of the players on both sides are talking about a rivalry now between the Rangers and Canadiens stemming from the hit you put on Stepan. Do you think that will be looked at as a shift or turning point in the series?
BRANDON PRUST: I hope so. It’s Eastern Conference Finals and whoever is playing it, a rivalry’s usually going to get started. That’s something coming into that game I wanted to create a little noise, obviously not injure anybody, but I wanted to be physical and create some emotion for my team. That’s something that our team has to play with. That’s what makes us successful, playing with our emotion. I hope we can continue to do that.