January 17, 2018

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San Jose GM dips into cold, dark water to apologize for Sharks' attack on Winnipeg

San Jose Sharks players celebrate after Logan Couture (39) scored on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Sunday, January 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan</p>

San Jose Sharks players celebrate after Logan Couture (39) scored on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Sunday, January 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan

BUFFALO — So, a few of the San Jose Sharks think Winnipeg is the armpit of the NHL. Big deal, right?

Apparently, it has kind of become one.

Some off-the-cuff remarks from a few Sharks players about the Manitoba capital, videotaped before the season began by San Jose broadcaster NBC Sports California, were made public over the weekend. And those comments haven't been received favourably by Winnipeggers, who get rather uppity when their city takes a verbal bashing.

But of greater concern to the Sharks, their own boss isn't at all pleased.

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BUFFALO — So, a few of the San Jose Sharks think Winnipeg is the armpit of the NHL. Big deal, right?

Apparently, it has kind of become one.

Some off-the-cuff remarks from a few Sharks players about the Manitoba capital, videotaped before the season began by San Jose broadcaster NBC Sports California, were made public over the weekend. And those comments haven't been received favourably by Winnipeggers, who get rather uppity when their city takes a verbal bashing.

But of greater concern to the Sharks, their own boss isn't at all pleased.

In a since-deleted Jan. 7 tweet, Sharks players Tomas Hertl, Justin Braun and Tim Heed all mentioned Winnipeg when they were asked what city was the worst in the NHL to play in.

Hertl, who hails from not-so-tropical Praha, Czech Republic, said this: "I think it’s Winnipeg 'cuz every time it’s so cold and dark there. I don’t like there."

Braun, a guy raised eight hours south in Minneapolis, said: "Winnipeg. Dark. Cold. Hotel is a little questionable. Internet doesn’t work ever."

San Jose GM Doug Wilson blasted the network for coming up with the question in the first place.

"It’s disappointing that our broadcast partner would put our players in that position first of all, by even asking that question, then putting it on our broadcast," Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News Tuesday. "That was a question that was one of 30 that were asked earlier in the year. To me, it was an inappropriate question that should not have been asked. Whether it was an attempt at humour, it was not appropriate."

Wilson said he got on the phone Monday with Jets executive Mark Chipman and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to offer an apology.

"I went to high school in Winnipeg, I played junior hockey in Winnipeg," Wilson said. "It’s a great city and (the Jets are) a wonderful organization and I’m disappointed that our broadcast partner would put our players or our organization in a position to have to respond to this."

Following Tuesday's morning skate in Buffalo, the Free Press asked Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice what he thought of the Sharks comments about the city he lives and works in.

Maurice admitted he hadn’t seen the clips but offered up these gems: "It’s cold and dark. That happens in Canada, occasionally, pretty regularly, every winter. It’s dark at night, that happens pretty much around the world.

"I don’t think any coach, player, trainer, referee should ever complain about a day in the NHL. We’ve got a sold-out building and I’m pretty sure that goes into hockey-related revenues and everybody cashes their cheque," he said.

"The thread count at your hotel isn’t right or your frappuccino isn’t frothed right? I don’t even know what a frappuccino is. My point being we’ve got nothing to complain about; pretty good life, every day. Every city’s a pretty darn good one."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Read more by Jason Bell.

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Updated on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 5:44 PM CST: Updates

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