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Since Nashville Predator Ryan Johansen answered a question about Western Conference foe and Anaheim Duck Ryan Kesler in his post-game media scrum, hockey fans across social media had an opinion. But would you rather he not have said anything?
After a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, Nashville Predators Forward, Ryan Johansen was asked if Ryan Kesler has “gone over the line this series.”
Johansen answered with a look of amazement and a sarcastic smile. “I mean, it just blows my mind watching. I don’t know what’s going through his head over there. Like his family and friends watching him play, I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that. It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game. I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey and it sucks when you’ve got to pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”
Kesler’s known to be an agitator on the ice. He and Johansen battled it out a few times throughout the night. The odd thing about Johansen’s thoughts on Kesler is that he’s the one that’s actually playing a better game this series. Johansen has four points in two games, where Kesler has one. Johansen’s also served two penalties drawn by Kesler where Kesler has served one drawn by Forsberg.
The issue here isn’t whether he was in the right for calling out Kesler or if it was even warranted. It’s also not a case of finger-pointing and saying, “Johansen played dirty too.” The real problem is that fans and media will criticize any player that speaks out of uniform, but then complain about the lack of personalities in the locker rooms. Players are well aware of the consequences of saying anything out of the norm, which is why they rarely do it.
Johansen spoke from a place of frustration and emotion, but if you asked him the same question a few hours after the game, the answer might have been more tame but also dishonest.
There’s no winning in this situation for a player. If they call out a player or even the referees (maybe not to the degree Johansen did), then they’re whining. If they don’t say anything and give a generic “we just have to play our game” answer, then they’re boring.
It was Johansen’s honest answer to a question he was asked. He didn’t go out of his way to bring up Kesler. How often do these players actually say what’s on their mind? How often do they say anything other than pointless sound bites that aren’t even worth writing about?
After the backlash from his words on Sunday night, it’s likely Ryan Johansen won’t be voicing his honest opinion anymore and if other players are smart, they probably won’t either. It’s a huge loss for the fans and the game as a whole.