When Kevin Bieksa stood stick in hand talking about the head thrusting of Shark Logan Couture and the hand shaking of Joe Thornton so as to draw penalties, it was born from an earlier discussion with other veterans on the team. The engaging Vancouver Canucks defenceman, who was playing with a bad groin injury or a sports hernia, explained the story in detail with no tape recorders running, so this account will be a close paraphrase of what he was telling a couple of us on Thursday. Not surprisingly, after spending two years trying to repair their image of divers and complainers that became the narrative of the eastern media during the Stanley Cup final, they were getting a little frustrated at watching other teams do the same things with nobody mentioning it. So they decided they would mention it while at the same time trying to be careful not to upset the officials in the bargain. And he’s quite right, in making the points he did, twice; once, to a small group and again when the television cameras arrived in droves at the HP Pavillion. The second time he went out of his way to say it wasn’t the officials’ fault and that the Shark players were making life difficult for people who already have a tough job to do. Along the way they learned how there can be a lot of selective editing done by the media. Bieksa is fully aware that most of his quotes about how the Canucks felt for the officials in all of this, didn’t make the paper, television or radio. This we presume he learned after the officiating of Game 4, where it’s safe to assume that this initiative by the Vancouver veterans backfired in a big way. So to pick up the story, Bieksa rolled out the quotes, which became the talk of the series and to the Canuck players’ surprise, they thought it was working wonderfully well on game day. You had Couture and Thornton reacting, although Joe has seen so much over the span of his career he genuinely did recognize it for the ploy it was. But you had the always reliable Adam Burish buying the whole routine, hook line and sinker. And it was clear from coach Todd McLellan’s response that either he or somebody in their public relations department had spent a long time working on his quotes, as they came out well rehearsed, pointed and almost allegorical.
Some reputations are hard to shake
Montreal Gazette | May 12