The traditional post-series handshake between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens wasn't the symbol of sportsmanship the NHL might be looking for.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic said something to anger Montreal's Dale Weise and Alexei Emelin after the Canadiens beat the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Although no one involved in the exchange would reveal exactly Lucic said, according to reports he threatened to retaliate against them next season.
And he isn't sorry for saying it.
"What's said on the ice stays on the ice, and unfortunately that code is broken," Lucic told reporters at the TD Garden on Friday. "It's unfortunate that it blows up to what it is now. I'm not the first guy to do it; I'm not the last guy to do it. I'm not sorry that I did it. I'm a guy that plays on emotion, and this is a game of emotions. Sometimes you make decisions out of emotion that might not be the best ones. That's what it is."
The Bruins finished the regular season with the NHL's best record, but their quest for a third trip to the Stanley Cup finals in four seasons ended on Wednesday night with a 3-1 loss to Montreal. After the game, the teams went through what appeared to be the standard post-game handshake line.
'I didn't make the NHL because I accepted losing, or I accepted failure, and I think that's what's gotten me to this point and made me the player that I am.' - Bruins forward Milan Lucic
But Lucic's comments still rankled in Montreal's locker room afterward, when Weise said, "(The Bruins) had couple guys — sorry, just one — that couldn't put it behind them and be a good loser. Milan Lucic had a few things to say to a couple guys."
The Canadiens have since moved on to the conference finals against the New York Rangers. The Bruins spent Friday emptying their lockers, and Lucic wasn't backing down a bit.
"I didn't make the NHL because I accepted losing, or I accepted failure, and I think that's what's gotten me to this point and made me the player that I am," he said. "Like I said, I'm not the first guy to do it, and I'm sure I won't be the last."
Speaking Friday at the Canadiens' practice facility in Brossard, Que., Weise said he never revealed exactly what Lucic said.
"You know what? I'm going to say it once: I never went into detail about it," he said. "I never made any comment on what he said.
"It got blown out of proportion. They read his lips. TSN did it or whatever. I never personally went into any detail about what he said. I believe that should stay on the ice, and we'll leave it at that."
Lucic and the Bruins were criticized for what some called disrespectful acts and words during the series. But Canadiens centre Daniel Briere said it is unfair to blame the entire Boston team.
"The last few days we've heard a lot about Milan Lucic, his comments and all that," said Briere. "A lot of people are saying that's a reflection of the Bruins and it represents the team.
"But on the other hand, you have a player like Patrice Bergeron, who has all the class in the world. It's not fair to say it reflects on all the Bruins."
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli also had trouble accepting the loss, saying he still believes he has a roster that can add a championship to its 2011 Stanley Cup title. There won't be a major roster overhaul this summer, he said.
"This is a very good team," he said. "There's some tweaks here and there but it's a very good team; strong down the middle, strong in the nets, good character, good core."
Reciting the team's accomplishments — Presidents' Trophy, five-game victory over the Detroit Red Wings, and a close series against Montreal — Chiarelli said he would try not to overreact to the disappointing end to the season.
"It's emotional, and it's my job to be unemotional about it," he said. "We're not going to make too many changes to this team. But there will be some changes."
Lucic, who is signed through the 2015-16 season, will remain, along with Bergeron and fellow centre David Krejci and defencemen Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug. Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton are the team's top unrestricted free agents.
"If you look at the guys, most of the guys are still going to be with us next year," Bergeron said. "And I think we have a great group of guys, a great core and we have the experience that you need in playoffs. And I think this year hopefully makes us eager to do it next year."