It came off like an unprecedented conflict of interest when Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout mentioned it days after his one-punch knockdown of Bruins forward Milan Lucic.

In recapping the response to his punch, Prout noted that beyond his family and friend,s he also heard from someone on the ice who’s supposed to be an objective participant in the games.

Prout told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:

“During warm-ups the (following night) in Philly, an (NHL) official came up to me just before the national anthem,” Prout said. “He just said, ‘Nice right hand.’ That’s the first time I’ve ever talked with an official other than arguing about a call.”

Almost two weeks later, I finally got to ask Lucic what he thought of those comments. After all, one wouldn’t expect a referee or linesman to show bias toward or against a player. And the comment certainly could have been construed as congratulations for knocking down one of the most aggressive players in the League rather than commentary on Prout’s fighting ability.

“Whatever. I mean it is what it is. I don’t know why any official would have it out for me,” Lucic told after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday. “I mean I play hard but I don’t play dirty. But … whatever. I guess it’s one of those things where they just, I don’t know, maybe someone has it out for me. I don’t know which official it would be. But as far as I go with official, I don’t even talk to them for the most part. You know I respect all the officials and you know you hope to not hear something like that. But at the end of the day …”

Two officials from the Bruins-Blue Jackets game worked the Blue Jackets-Flyers game Prout was talking about — referee Brad Maier and linesman Derek Nansen. Prout did not reveal if it was one of those officials. In my mind, this incident recalled Alex Burrows accusing referee Stephane Auger of threatening him with erroneous penalties because of Burrows’ actions in a prior game in 2010. Burrows’ accusations caused a League investigation.

Prout’s comments were neatly swept under the rug. Lucic said he’s unfazed.

“I don’t really care about it. Regardless if he said it or he didn’t say, I still have to protect myself the same way.”

Lucic had his own things to say about Prout the next night. The highlight of his comments was, “But the good thing is we get to play them two more times, so…” That might’ve been understood as a threat by the League, but Lucic said he didn’t hear from anyone about making that statement. In light of the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident, the League has been extremely sensitive to anything perceived as a threat of future violence. Lucic said the League need not worry about him doing anything to sully his or the League’s reputation.

“I mean every time I’ve always taken care of business I’ve always gone about it in a legal manner,” Lucic said. “I mean it’s a man’s game out there on the ice. I’m not going to go out there and do something stupid. You know I’m not going to go out there and do something just for some self satisfaction. The most important thing is going in there winning game. And if I need to settle a score, then I’ll do that when the time is right and on my own time.”

Here’s another look at the altercation and Prout’s punch:

The Bruins’ next game with the Blue Jackets is in Columbus on Dec. 27.