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Canadiens say they really did use ‘disrespect’ as motivation

05.15.14 at 12:42 am ET
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All the talk about “disrespect” these last couple days was almost laughable. For starters, it was unclear how it even got started. On Tuesday, some reporter asked Brandon Prust about the Bruins not respecting the Canadiens, Prust gave a vague answer about the Habs having pride and not wanting to stoop to the Bruins’ level, and off we went.

Suddenly “disrespect” was all the rage. Mike Weaver was asked about it Wednesday morning and said the Habs had to earn their respect. He was then asked a follow-up about what, exactly, the Bruins were doing to disrespect his team.

“Well, watch the clips. The whole entire series you can see little things out there,” Weaver said. “But I think that’s their game. Our game is just playing. The other stuff isn’t really a factor.”

Sure, Shawn Thornton squirted P.K. Subban with some water. Milan Lucic flexed his muscles at Subban at one point. Kevan Miller tossed a Montreal helmet into the corner after a scrum. But were those things really disrespectful? Or were they just things that happen in a playoff series between archrivals?

The consensus around Boston was that they were the latter. As our own DJ Bean put it, all the “disrespect” talk just seemed like “a team stretching to come up with motivation.”

Surely after winning Wednesday’s Game 7, the Canadiens would admit that all that talk was just part of some head game, right?

Wrong. As it turns out, the Canadiens really did feed off this “disrespect.” Or at least they claim they did. Just check out some of these quotes that came out their locker room Wednesday night:

Daniel Briere: “We used some of their antics to motivate us. … We all saw the muscle flexing, the helmet tossing, the water bottle spray. Those are all things we tried to use to our advantage.”

Dale Weise: “I think as the series went on, our motivation grew. They just disrespected us in every single way. I don’t think they had any respect for us as a team.”

Brian Gionta: “Some of the things that went on in this series, we weren’t happy with. The way that you get respect is how you play in the game, not how you respond to some of the antics. The way we responded as a team to some lack of respect throughout the series, I’m pretty proud of this group.”

Subban: “We’re just sick and tired of it, sick and tired of people disrespecting us and not giving us the credit we deserve. We’re a good group of guys in here. We’re a character group and I think we earned a lot of respect today.”

So, call it a laughable narrative if you want. Call the “disrespect” exaggerated. Call it a team stretching for motivation. The bottom line is that it worked. The Canadiens convinced themselves that they really were being disrespected by the Bruins, and if that added even a crumb of a chip to their shoulder, then it was worth it.

Players and teams look for every little edge they can get in the playoffs. And in all this “disrespect” talk, silly as it may have seemed, the Canadiens found an edge that at least four different players pointed to as legitimate motivation that helped them win the series.

And if the end-of-series handshake line is any indication, we may be in for more disrespect talk next year.

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