That aggression hit a breaking point mid-way through the third period with a play that had both sides talking post-game.
The incident in question saw the Canucks’ Conor Garland hit the Red Wings’ Filip Zadina while the latter was reaching forward for the puck. The hit sparked a big scrum but after a video review Garland was downgraded from a five-minute major penalty to a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head.
Zadina briefly left the game but did return. Afterwards, he had some strong words for Garland.
“I’m ok… I was just reaching for the puck and he just reversed me I guess, you know, like the midget like he is,” Zadina said. “It’s pretty normal, you know, that he reversed hit because I don’t think he’s strong enough to battle me in the corner one-on-one.”
It’s unclear if Zadina will be disciplined by the league for his choice of words. The word midget is widely viewed as a slur against people living with dwarfism. In 2019, Hockey Canada stopped using the word — as well as novice, peewee, atom and bantam — to name the different age groups in minor hockey, saying in a statement that “We believe everyone should feel welcome in the game…”
When asked about his role in the play, Garland shrugged it off, saying “it is what it is.”
“I kind of hit the brakes trying to create space. I know there’s a guy behind me,” Garland said. “He skated into my back… I grabbed the puck, I stopped and, like I said, I got a penalty for a hit to the head.
“I hope he’s doing well. I’ve taken plenty of hits to the head over my career. Some end up as nothing, some end up as something serious so I wish him nothing but the best.”
The Canucks and Red Wings don’t meet again until March 17 but if that game is anything like Saturday’s, there could be plenty of fireworks.