Wild's season's over, but jabs still fly

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 21, 2007 - 9:07 PM

The Wild-Ducks animosity didn't fade away, with the teams' GMs, in particular, taking some final digs.

The Western Conference quarterfinals officially ended Thursday when the Anaheim Ducks bid adieu to the Wild in five games, but parting shots took place Saturday between both clubs, particularly the teams' general managers -- the Wild's Doug Risebrough and the Ducks' Brian Burke.

The detonation again had to do with Anaheim's Brad May, who called Kim Johnsson on Friday to apologize for leaving the Wild defenseman concussed with a surprise punch to Johnsson's left eye. It was an apology not accepted, if you read between the lines.

Risebrough, who said, "May's probably made a lot of those calls," insinuated that actions like May's follow Burke around, a subtle reminder that Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore's neck when Burke managed the Canucks.

"They started whining after Game 1, they whined after Game 2 ... after Game 3 ... after Game 4 ... after Game 5," Burke said by phone. "I suspect after Games 6 and 7, we'd be treated to more whining. There's a right way and a wrong way to lose. The right way is to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that the best team is still playing.

"But this is embarrassing."

Series-long tensions erupted during the Wild's Game 4 victory over Anaheim. Near the end, a scrum broke out. As Johnsson skated, May, claiming to be "defending myself, my space on the ice," skated right to left so that Johnsson couldn't get by. He grabbed the nonpugilist and decked him.

"I'm disappointed ... that stuff like that can happen," said Johnsson, who thought his cheekbone was broken. "I feel that's not the right way to do it. If he wants to fight, at least tell me that he's going to do something so I can protect myself."

Asked if he accepted May's apology, Johnsson said: "He apologized, but let's leave it at that. I don't want to say what he said or what I said."

Johnsson is feeling better, but Risebrough said he wouldn't be able to play in the "near future." Risebrough also has been told that May broke his hand during the incident; Burke denies that.

"It's probably worthwhile for the league to find out how accurate it is," Risebrough said. "As an ex-player, I know if a guy hit me and he broke his hand, he hit me pretty hard. It does tell you the impact, and it certainly does tell you, which is contrary to what Anaheim broadcaster [Brian Hayward] said, that Johnsson didn't turtle. He was knocked out."

A skirmish between the teams broke out during Game 5 warmups, after Derek Boogaard admittedly elbowed defenseman Chris Pronger.

"Yeah, I did," Boogaard said. "He crossed over the red line, so I got in his way just on their side of the ice and then he shot a puck at me. And then [George] Parros came flying over the line. It just escalated from there."

After the game, when both teams lined up to shake hands, Risebrough kept Boogaard from joining, because "I did not trust what they were going to do." Wild coach Jacques Lemaire and his assistants also didn't shake hands with the Ducks coaches, which angered Burke.

"The reason is very simple," Lemaire said. "[Burke] started first to say his team is bigger, tougher, they had more fights and all that [stuff] before the playoffs, and I didn't appreciate it. Then ... what May did, that's the reason I didn't shake."

Risebrough said that it's time "to hold general managers accountable for how their teams play. Some of these things follow general managers around."I'm at a loss of how to respond," Burke said. "I don't even know what that means. This was a warriors' series. I have not heard one person from Minnesota praise how hard my team worked, how good our special teams were. It's certainly an ungracious way to lose. When they came back from 3-1 [to beat Vancouver in 2003], go back and see if I bellyached like this."

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