Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker has done some back-pedalling since his comments about Bruce Boudreau — his team’s head coach — began to blow up online following a 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Shortly after a closed-door, players-only meeting at the Bell Centre, the 27-year-old had plenty to say to a group of beat writers about the Wild’s dreadful 1-6-0 start to the 2019-20 season that has them sitting last in the league’s standings.
“I think more than (a meeting's) going to have to jumpstart us to be honest with you,” Zucker said, per Michael Russo of The Athletic. “It’s going to be each individual guy from Bruce on down. Bruce has got to be better. We’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better. That’s it."
His words quickly made the rounds via social media and received plenty of blowback. In fact, by the time Zucker boarded the team’s plane in Montreal that night, he received a text from his wife — Carly — warning him not to go onto Twitter, according to Russo.
Whether he meant to or not, his comments gave many the perception that he was calling out Boudreau.
“I’ll start by first apologizing to Bruce,” Zucker told reporters after Saturday’s practice. “There was no reason for me to use his name in that quote in any way. That’s completely on me. My intention with the quote was to state that everybody needs to be better and needs to do more and pull more weight, and 99.9 percent of that is on the players.”
“It’s obviously a tough time for everybody in this room, everybody wants to win, everybody wants to do the right things. That was a poor use of words, so that’s completely my fault. That said, I stand by the fact that everyone does need to be better...”
Zucker also explained that upon seeing the reactions online, he immediately went to the front of the plane on Thursday night to apologize to Boudreau. At that time, the 64-year-old bench boss wasn’t even aware of the remarks made by one of the Wild’s longest tenured players.
When the story continued to garner attention on Friday and Saturday, Zucker spoke with Boudreau once again ahead of Saturday’s practice. According to Russo, the two chatted near the team’s bench for a short period of time, skated a half-lap together and “separated with smiles on their faces.”
“It’s a learning experience for me,” Zucker said. “I take full responsibility for that. … It’s 100 percent on me and 100 percent my fault. We are still learning throughout our careers in every way, so it’s just another learning experience for me.”
Those inside Minnesota’s dressing room can only hope that the first seven games of their campaign have also been a learning experience and better times are ahead.
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