It may not have been the stick slam heard ’round the world, but it does have Canucks nation talking.
With a minute left in Thursday night’s game in Winnipeg, J.T. Miller was seen repeatedly yelling at teammate and goaltender Collin Delia to get to the bench for the extra attacker. There may have been an F-bomb mixed in too.
The sequence ended with Miller slamming his stick on the back of the net, as Delia finally skated to the Canucks bench.
The Jets scored into the empty net moments later and won the game 4-2.
Miller has received a ton of criticism from Canucks fans and media since, for his treatment of the AHL call-up, although others have blamed Delia. But the most scathing comments came from former NHL and AHL goalie Mike McKenna, who now writes for Daily Faceoff.
He’s blaming Miller.
“It’s one of the most disrespectful things I’ve seen a player do to a teammate in quite some time,” McKenna wrote, as part of his criticism of the Canucks’ star forward.
Speaking after practice in Calgary today, Bruce Boudreau downplayed the incident, saying people are “making a mountain out of a molehill.”
Instead of pointing a finger at Miller or Delia, as many have done since last night’s game ended, the Canucks head coach blamed himself.
“It’s my fault,” Boudreau said. “Collin was looking at me and he wasn’t paying any attention to J.T. If you’ve ever been on the ice, it’s pretty hard to hear. He was trying to get his attention. There’s no animosity built. There are 48 seconds left in the game. [Delia is] looking at me, I’m waiting for us to come up the ice a little bit to make sure we have possession.
“I think it’s being blown way out of proportion. J.T.’s doing everything he can to win at that point and Collin’s being the good person, where he’s the new guy with us, and he’s looking at me for direction. If I didn’t give the proper direction, that’s on me.”
“I called him and then I sent him back… I think we’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
Head Coach Bruce Boudreau meets with media after today's practice in Calgary. pic.twitter.com/aTaOZMBo2g
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 30, 2022
Miller acknowledged the optics didn’t look good but seemed perplexed that this was even a talking point.
“It’s not the coach’s fault. I don’t even know why this is even being talked about,” said Miller. “Maybe I shouldn’t have done what I did. It’s not out of anger, I was letting [Delia] know to go to the bench, I have full control of the puck. That’s all it was. At the end of the day, it probably looks optically not good.”
Asked by Sportsnet’s Ryan Leslie if he had spoken to Delia about the incident, Miller said: “I don’t think it’s anybody’s business.”
“The only reason there’s noise [about this] is because you guys are asking me questions about it. I don’t care about this at all. I care about the guys in the room and the coaches and my teammates. That’s all I care about. I didn’t even know this was a thing until today.”
JT Miller responding to the reaction to his exchange with Collin Delia at the end of last night’s game vs the Jets.
— Randip Janda (@RandipJanda) December 30, 2022
The Canucks have a big game in Calgary on New Year’s Eve, as the Flames are one of the teams they’re chasing in the Western Conference standings. Vancouver has a 16-16-3 record after 35 games. Their next home game is on January 3 against the New York Islanders.
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