Morning skate turns into war of words

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

OTTAWA -- It was a circus minus the clowns.

With the exception of the odd media member, that is.

Those that claim the Battle of Ontario has lost some of its zest obviously were not at the morning skates of both the Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators yesterday at Scotiabank Place.

Only in a rivalry like this could there be more shots fired verbally than on the ice.

And consider that this war of words came some seven hours before the actual game even started.

Let's start with the fallout from Wade Belak's referral to the Sens' Chris Neil and Brian McGrattan as "idiots" Tuesday.

With about 50 reporters scrunched in around him, Neil wasted no time filling up their notebooks and tapes with a juicy response.

"(Idiots?) That's a big word for him to say," Neil said mockingly. "It caught me off guard whenever he came out with that big of a word. Someone must have told it to him."

Zing.

The pack then moved to McGrattan for his take on Belak.

"Just from what I know, the guys with the biggest mouths are the ones who usually can't back it up," McGrattan said. "Growing up, the toughest guys were the ones who never said anything."

For his part, Belak stood by his previous statement. In fact, he called the two Sens "gutless" for whining to the media about Darcy Tucker's scrap Tuesday with Patrick Eaves, a guy who had never participated in an NHL fight.

"I don't like it when guys go into the paper and complain what our teammates did," Belak said. "I think it's a gutless thing. If you got a problem take care of it on the ice.

"I never read the stories what they said. I don't care. But they have guys spouting about Darcy fighting the guy he did. It was the heat of battle, I guess. Darcy was mad, grabbed the first guy he could. That's hockey. If you don't like it, quit."

The last word went to Tucker.

After reading the local papers here yesterday, the most hated man in Ottawa -- at least that's what some here would have you believe -- alleged that certain Ottawa reporters were homers.

"The writers in Ottawa obviously love their team," Tucker said. "I wish sometimes it was like that with us in Toronto. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way. We're at an even keel that way. If we do something we shouldn't it obviously gets written in Toronto. Here they obviously like their team a lot."


Videos

Photos

Canoe Top Headlines