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Florida Panthers Coach Paul Maurice Lets Refs Have It

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Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice talks with his players during the second period of an game against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 11 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice and NHL official Francois St. Laurent have a history dating back a few years — and it appears bad blood takes a while to cool off.

On Tuesday night, the Panthers went on the penalty kill seven times (in the first two periods) in an eventual 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maurice may face another fine from the league following his postgame comments about not only the league, but more scathingly, it’s officiating on Tuesday night.

When asked what he said when he was spotted shouting at the officials during the second period after a phantom hooking call on Ryan Lomberg, Maurice said “lots of energy, excitement, profanity.”

He then went a little deeper making sure it was clear he did not like the charging call on Radko Gudas, either.

That penalty led to Auston Matthews’ power play goal which pulled the Leafs within a goal with 1.1 seconds left in the second period.

“Proud of our guys. They flew us out to the west coast, flew us home, flew us up here for a back-to-back and then threw those two guys at us,” Maurice said, referencing the NHL scheduling the Panthers for a four-game trip which ended in Las Vegas only to come home for one game then go back out for three up north.

“I thought we did pretty good. I am proud of our group.”

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Maurice said he told his players that this was not on them — but had to do with a old beef with an official.

“I just explained to them that it had nothing to do with my players,” Maurice said with a hearty laugh. “It has to do with a relationship I have with one of the referees. That’s what that was all about.”

We can assume that is St. Laurent.

“There will always be penalties that you take in a game here,” Maurice said. “But there is a whole lot you’re not going to like at all. We had the inordinant share of those hard-to-describe the calls. …

“I don’t know what the hell those two were doing tonight. It certainly wasn’t Florida Panther friendly.”

Back in 2016, Maurice was fined $5,000 for berating St. Laurent during a game in which Winnipeg’s Bryan Little was injured on a hit from Anton Stralman.

When Blake Wheeler went after Stralman for the hit, it was Wheeler who was penalized and not Stralman.

St. Laurent ended up ejecting Maurice from the game after being spotted apparently laughing at the then-Winnipeg coach.

Little ended up missing the remainder of that season with a fractured neck.

From the looks of things Tuesday, Maurice may have been in the mood to get another thumb.

He was fired up.

“I was upset because you work with these guys every day and you care about them and you care about their wives and their families,” Maurice said after that game in 2016.

“Bryan Little’s getting his neck X-rayed, and I seemed to be considerably more concerned about the result of that hit than anyone else.”

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MONTREAL CANADIENS 

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Bell Center, Montreal
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 3-1
  • This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 7, Canadiens 2 (Dec. 29)
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 52-38-11, 6 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Jan. 21 vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m.

 

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