Teammates defend Gryba over ‘blood’ comments

Ottawa Senators defenceman Eric Gryba didn’t speak publicly Thursday morning, but there was plenty of heated talk about him here for his ill-advised choice of words on Wednesday.

Eric Gryba was suspended early in the series for his hit on Lars Eller. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen.

Ottawa Senators defenceman Eric Gryba didn’t speak publicly Thursday morning, but there was plenty of heated talk about him here for his ill-advised choice of words on Wednesday.

When asked by Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes if the Senators needed to have a killer instinct to finish off the Montreal Canadiens, Gryba said, “We can smell blood. We can taste blood. And it’s time to put them away.”

Gryba’s choice of words conjured up memories of his crushing open ice hit on Lars Eller in Game 1 of the series, a hit which concussed Eller and left a pool of blood on the ice before Eller left the game on a stretcher.

Gryba’s teammates were doing their best to defend Gryba for his words.

“No one who knows (Gryba) or has been around him at all actually believes that he meant that in any disrespect to Eller or in terms of the hit,” said Zack Smith.

Smith believes Canadiens players understand where Gryba’s comments came from.

“In other cases, players say stuff that kind of fuels the other team, but in that case, I’m sure the guys on the other team know he didn’t mean it in that way – that he meant literal ‘blood’, as in the Eller hit.”

Considering the Canadiens’ desperate situation, however, they will use anything they can for motivation.

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