By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Dont expect any more finger play in the Stanley Cup Finals after Monday nights final straw with Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic waving their fingers in the faces of Maxim Lapierre and Alexandre Burrows, respectively, during Bostons lopsided victory over the Canucks in Game Three at TD Garden.
The incident caused both Recchi and Lucic to be upbraided by coach Claude Julien for their classless gestures, which Julien had criticized the Canucks for earlier in the day. The gloved finger gestures were in retaliation for the two Vancouver players players targeting Patrice Bergeron in the first couple of games in the series, and NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy basically told both teams general managers and head coaches to cut the crap.
NHL official Kris King is in charge of the series," Murphy said. "We've addressed it. We've addressed it with the teams as early as this morning. I will be speaking with both general managers and coaches before the day is over about what we are seeing . . . the garbage that is going on. Some of the issues will be addressed.
Both Lucic and Recchi apologized for their actions after the game was over and promised there would be no repeat incidents, and it appears Murphy is ready to slap the book at any other skaters engaging in finger play.
When asked if failing to suspend Burrows for biting Bergeron earlier in the series led to the Nathan Horton head-hunting actions, Murphy slapped away that notion while hinting that higher penalties await anybody else continuing the shenanigans.
We made the right decision on Alex Burrows, Murphy said. I spoke with Alex. But I'm not here to speak about that. I've dealt with that. We've moved on past that. We will deal with the issues of the series and the chippiness that's going on."
The players will certainly continue piling up the hits and ratcheting up the physicality in the remaining four games of the Stanley Cup Final as it should be. But the biting, overzealous face-washing and ratty behavior, which is straight out of the Montreal Canadiens handbook, should be taking a backseat for the rest of the series.
It's the Stanley Cup Final. Both teams want that trophy, Shawn Thornton said. Everyone's going to do whatever they can to try and make that goal a reality. That includes playing physical, I'm sure.