VANCOUVER - The Los Angeles Kings say they're sorry, but the Vancouver Canucks contend they could not care less about a controversial tweet.
One day after opening a series against Vancouver with a 4-2 win, the NHL team found itself backtracking from a playful jab made on Twitter. In the wake of the victory, the team's official account posted a message saying: "To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you're welcome."
That didn't sit well with senior members of the organization, especially after all of the attention it generated.
"We encourage our digital team to be creative, interactive and to apply a sense of humour whenever possible," said Mike Altieri, the Kings vice-president of communications and broadcasting. "To anyone who found it offensive we sincerely apologize."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter and his players distanced themselves from the tweet, saying they had no control over the account. Sutter said he has too much respect for the Canucks and what they have done in the past two post-seasons to make such comments
"I'm Canadian," said Sutter, a Viking, Alta., native. "I'm from Western Canada, and I don't think that would come from our locker-room or from our coaches. I know that for sure."
Kings captain Dustin Brown said some players have their own Twitter accounts, but would not make such statements online. He took exception to the timing of the tweet, stressing the Kings know they have only one victory thus far.
"As players, we're all smart enough to know that bulletin-board material at this time of year is not a good idea," said Brown. "As players, I think we all understand that. Maybe someone with loose control of the Twitter feed needs to understand that as well."
But Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was not bothered. The Vancouver bench boss said he did not care about the original tweet, which was retweeted 12,000 times, or the apology.
"I wouldn't care about the Twitter world," said Vigneault. "I care about the Stanley Cup playoffs, and we're going to focus on Game 2."
Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo said he was aware of the controversial tweet. But it would not distract his club in its chase for the Cup.
"That isn't relevant to the hockey game," said Luongo. "There's a lot of stuff going around. But for us, we're focused on playing hockey."
"We don't really care about what's happening outside the dressing room," added Canucks winger Max Lapierre. "We have enough to worry about in the game right now."
The Canucks, who trail the best-of-seven Western Conference series 1-0, have drawn criticism during two successful seasons in which they have captured the Presidents' Trophy in back-to-back years and fallen one game short of the Stanley Cup in 2011.
In October, CBC commentator Don Cherry added to the chorus by saying Vancouver was disliked because the players whine at officials.
The Canucks are considered a strong Stanley Cup contender yet again and entered the series with Los Angeles as a heavy favourite.
Game 2 goes Friday night at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.
When asked if his team's apology was appropriate, Sutter said people should "put it to rest," because players and coaches were not responsible for the tweet.
"So that's the end of that," said Sutter.