- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is angry his team has been portrayed as “dishonorable and dishonest” by the Montreal Canadiens and coach Michel Therrien.

Just hours before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, Vigneault responded Sunday to questions regarding assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson watching the Canadiens practice Saturday.

Therrien said there is always a “gentleman’s agreement” between teams in a playoff series that coaches aren’t permitted to attend practices. When Samuelsson was spotted, Therrien said Samuelsson was told he wasn’t supposed to be there.

“There was no agreement between both teams,” Vigneault said Sunday. “That is the exception, not the rule. I’ve been asked in the past to do this on a couple of occasions. Usually the coach calls me or the GM calls the GM. It never happened.

“What happened yesterday was uncalled for. Without a doubt, my staff handled it with a lot of class just like our team plays whistle to whistle.

“It’s very regrettable. This is the National Hockey League. That type of behavior, we’re lucky it didn’t escalate.”

Therrien still believes both teams were on the same page.

“Myself and my coaching staff were all under the impression that there is a gentleman’s agreement, so probably there was a miscommunication,” Therrien said Sunday. “I don’t talk to coaches. This is a thing GMs talk about.”

This was just the latest in a series of escalating events that has taken this series to a level way above just the play on the ice. Montreal cut its deficit to 2-1 with an overtime win on Thursday.

The Canadiens lost No. 1 goalie Carey Price for the rest of the series after Rangers forward Chris Kreider crashed into him while driving hard to the net. Things turned ugly in Game 3 when Montreal’s Brandon Prust hit forward Derek Stepan late, leaving the Rangers forward with a broken jaw that required surgery. Stepan was released from the hospital Sunday, and briefly stopped by Madison Square Garden to see teammates before returning home.

Prust was given a two-game suspension by the NHL.

Despite strong contention by some Canadiens that Stepan wasn’t hurt as badly as was suggested and would definitely be in the lineup for Game 4, he was ruled out by Vigneault on Sunday morning.

“No one wants to see a player get hurt,” Therrien said. “We don’t want to see Stepan get hurt. I’m sure they didn’t want to see Carey Price get hurt, but sometimes those things happen.”

Montreal forward Daniel Briere called Stepan’s injury “fishy.”

“It seems like a game,” he said Saturday.

Story Continues →