Devils coach Brent Sutter and right wing Arron Asham got into a heated, profanity-laced exchange near the end of this afternoon's intense practice at Prudential Center. Most of what was said can't be printed, but Asham said it started because he didn't chip the puck in the way Sutter wanted. Asham said something about the puck bouncing and Sutter ripped into him. There were a lot of expletives from both sides of the conversation. At one point, Asham tried to dismiss Sutter by saying, "Whatever", to which Sutter replied, "Whatever? That's the way you've been playing for two weeks." Eventually, Sutter told Asham "to sit down" on the bench (but with a few unprintable words mixed in) and practice continued without further incident.
Sutter didn't think the exchange was a big deal, saying. "It's a non-issue with me."
"That's good," Sutter said of the argument. "I don't take things personally. As long as it's not through a lack of respect, it's no problem whatsoever with me. I've always said that emotions run in practices and games and sometimes players and coaches, they get into it. It's not the first time it's happened and it's not going to be the last...If it can make Ash better, that's a good thing."
Asham was remorseful. "It was as inappropriate of me as a player," he said. "I should have said nothing...It was just one of those days. I was supposed to chip the puck and I chipped it the wrong way. Nothing big. Nothing I'm worried about."
Asham said he would probably approach Sutter to talk to him about the incident, "But I'm sure he's not sitting in his room right now waiting for me to come in and say I'm sorry. That's not the kind of guy he is."
It was a long, hard-working practice with a lot of skating and a drill of one-on-one battles in the corner and behind the net. Defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski was downed briefly after being struck in the groin by an inadvertent skate from Sergei Brylin during one of the drills.
Sutter made one small change on his forward lines, replacing Sergei Brylin at left wing on the checking line with rookie Rod Pelley. Brylin moved into Pelley's old spot on the fourth line. Sutter shook up the defense pairs some, too. He had Mike Mottau with Colin White and Andy Greene with Paul Martin. Johnny Oduya was with Karel Rachunek and Vishnevski and Sheldon Brookbank were together as usual.
Sutter said the coaching staff would decide overnight whether to dress six or seven defensemen in Thursday's game in Boston. Martin Brodeur will be back in net after Kevin Weekes got the start Monday in Washington.
Today's lines and pairings:
Forwards: Parise-Elias-Gionta; Zubrus-Zajac-Langenbrunner; Pelley-Madden-Clarkson; Rupp-Brylin-Asham.
Defensemen: White-Mottau; Greene-Martin; Oduya-Rachunek; Vishnevski-Brookbank.