Programming note: Sharks-Canucks Game 4 coverage kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
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SAN JOSE – Accused embellishers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture didn’t have much to say on Tuesday morning about Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa’s comments that the top two centers aren’t playing with integrity.
Fortunately, head coach Todd McLellan and forward Adam Burish were happy to respond.
McLellan said: “They use that word embellish, and I haven’t heard that for awhile. In fact, I think it was en vogue a couple springs ago (when Vancouver lost to Boston in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final).
“If we go back now to look at the series, we’ve been called cheaters in Game 1, we’ve been called embellishing Canadians after Game 3. If the series goes any deeper, we may be accused of biting, eventually.”
The Sharks were labeled as “cheaters” in the faceoff circle after Game 1 by Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault.
“In all seriousness, I don’t take any offense to it, but if I was an official I probably would,” McLellan said. “I think they’ve questioned the integrity of the linesmen after Game 1, and now the integrity of the referees after Game 3. But, no offense taken by us.”
Burish offered a suggestion to the Vancouver defenseman.
“I guess it if I was him, while he's up on his soap box trying to save the integrity of the game and doing all that stuff, I'd swing by player No. 14 (Alex Burrows) and player No. 17 (Ryan Kesler) – The Beast – and have a little talk with them about diving and the integrity. Then he can work his way over to our room.
“But, I'd start with those two guys in his room.”
Burish wasn't done.
“It was silly to call out the refs and worry about what we're doing. Please, keep worrying about us. But, in our room we're going to worry about our guys, what we've got to do, how we can be better and not worry about the integrity of the game and have props in interviews, and act like a lawyer with video evidence."
Thornton, who was born in Canada but has dual citizenship, joked about Bieksa’s “so-called Canadian” reference.
“I consider myself kind of North American, minus Mexico,” Thornton said.
Couture, meanwhile, praised the officials, even though he argued after Game 2 that the Canucks’ complaints following Game 1 had an effect on the linesmen in the faceoff circle.
“Those guys are pros. They are the best in the world at what they do,” Couture said. “They don’t listen to outside sources. They go out and do their job, and they’ve done a great job so far this year, especially in these playoffs. They’re going to continue to do that, as well.”
McLellan said: "I think the league is full of people with high integrity, and the officials will do their job the way they see fit.”