The videotape demonstration by Quebec Coach Michel Bergeron in an attempt to indict the officiating was not the only unusual postgame occurrence after the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Nordiques, 2-1, here Tuesday night.
Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan attended the regular press conference after his team had taken a 3-2 lead in the Prince of Wales Conference final series and surprised the media with an opening statement.
"I have been led to believe, from what I've been told and what I've read, that there have been accusations about myself being aloof or arrogant in my dealings with the media," Keenan said. "I am not aloof or arrogant.
"It's a matter of me feeling I'm a rookie in this and I should sit in a corner and keep my mouth shut. I feel uneasy at these conferences. Mr. Sather (Coach Glen Sather) in Edmonton has the (Stanley) Cup, Mr. Pulford (Coach Bob Pulford of Chicago) has been coaching for 30 years and this is Mr. Bergeron's eighth year as a coach. I don't feel it's my place to be pontificating to a group of reporters in my first season."
Off his demeanor throughout a season in which his first NHL team led the league in points and became a Stanley Cup favorite, the statement was remarkable.
A brief investigation uncovered the spur -- Keenan's wife Rita. Alarmed by the bad press Keenan was receiving, she sat in on his postgame press conference in Philadelphia Sunday. Afterward, she apparently informed her husband that he had been aloof and arrogant.
Reporters trying to cover all aspects of the game often wander from interview to interview, so questions sometimes are repeated. Most coaches and players understand the problem and are willing to amplify earlier comments. Keenan's standard reply is: "That was asked. Next question."
Andre Hidi of the Washington Capitals, who played for Keenan a year ago at the University of Toronto, said Keenan was warm and understanding.
"Mike was great to play for and he was easy to talk to," Hidi said. "But there's something about him when he has to talk to a large group. He's uncomfortable and he doesn't come over well."
But if Keenan has trouble communicating to the public, he has no problem motivating hockey players. He is almost certain to be NHL coach of the year (he won The Sporting News' version of that honor today) and, if the Flyers can beat Quebec Thursday night, he will have a team in the Stanley Cup final as a rookie coach.
Keenan, 35, has a remarkable record. After guiding two straight junior B championship teams in the Metro Toronto League, he moved up to junior A and took Peterborough to the Memorial Cup final in 1980.
Three years later, he won the American Hockey League's Calder Cup in Rochester, but rejected the only NHL job he was offered -- as an assistant in Buffalo -- and moved to the University of Toronto, where his charges captured the Canadian collegiate championship. It was after that achievement that he was hired by Bob Clarke in Philadelphia to engineer a rebuilding program that has proven successful beyond anyone's dreams.
The Flyers have rallied several times in the third period during the playoffs, as they did Tuesday, and each time the players have noted that a few words from Keenan during the second-period intermission had a lot to do with the turnabout.
"He yells a few things at us, then he leaves us alone," defenseman Brad Marsh said. "It's amazing what a good tongue-lashing can do."
"The key with Mike is that he has pushed us more than we've been pushed in the past," said Dave Poulin, who returned from the injury list and played his usual solid checking game. "We're doing more than we thought we were capable of."
"What I like about him is that when you make a mistake, he makes sure it's yours before he lets you know about it," said winger Lindsay Carson. "It's not like he's just yelling at the closest person available just to let off steam.''