The NHL is abuzz with debate over the hit Eric Gryba threw at Montreal forward Lars Eller Thursday night in Game 1 of the playoff series between Ottaw and the Canadiens.
Eller had to leave the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in the hospital with facial injuries and a concussion.
Like everyone else in the Bruins’ dressing room, Boston coach Claude Julien was harassed by the Canadian media for his thoughts on the hit. It was a worthwhile question once we heard Julien’s well-though-out answer. Julien, of course, is no stranger to such controversial plays, considering what Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton have gone through, not to mention Andrew Ference getting his second suspension in as many years for a hit just Thursday.
“You ask former players, maybe we have a different opinion than today’s players. So that’s where the difference is,” Julien said about Gryba’s hit on Eller just at the blue line as Eller received a pass from Raphael Diaz. “I remember, when I played, if something like that happened, we were mad at our own player for the suicide pass. That’s the way it was then. How it is today, maybe it’s different. And maybe players and the game is going in a different direction. But that’s how we used to view things. We used to get mad at our own player for putting us in that position to get what they called a suicide pass.
“Like I said, I’ve been retired for quite a while now. That’s back in our days. I’m not going to start critiquing what’s right, what’s wrong here. It was just an unfortunate thing that happened in the game. You never want to see a guy get injured in a game like that, no matter what team he plays on. But at the same time, when you look at the replay, it doesn’t seem like a dirty hit. It seems like the shoulder is going in the right place, in the chest. But again, how it’s viewed by, I guess, the new NHL, and the rules is something that we have to abide by and you let those guys do their jobs.”