Ryan Johansen has no regrets on his comments about Ryan Kesler after Game 2 of the Western Conference Final between his Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks.
The Predators centre, who sustained a season-ending thigh injury in Game 4 of the series, told TSN Radio 1040 Vancouver on Wednesday he wishes he could been able to shake Kesler's hand after the Ducks were eliminated.
"I really meant what I said," Johansen told TSN 1040. "I would never take back what I said. It’s just frustrating. Whether people think he’s doing a good job at what he does… I just don’t want to get into it again. What I said is what I meant. I’m just happy we were able to beat them, and I wish I could have been in line to shake their hands.”
The Ducks consistently matched Johansen's line with Kesler on home ice in Games 1 and 2 and Johansen expressed his disdain for Kesler's play after Game 2.
"I mean, it just blows my mind watching," Johansen said at the time. "I don't know what's going through his head over there. Like his family and his friends watching him play, I don't know how you cheer for a guy like that. It just doesn't make sense how he plays the game.
"I'm just trying to go out there and play hockey, and it sucks when you've got to pull a stick out of your groin every shift."
Johansen said he's not heard from Kesler since the series ended.
Johansen also opened up about his season-ending thigh injury on Thursday, which came as a surprise after he finished Game 4. The injury, which required emergency surgery in the hours after the game, came from a hit by Ducks defenceman Josh Manson along the boards.
"It all started right there. That was the play," Johansen said of the Manson hit. "He just kind of led with his knee a little bit, and I was trying to reverse hit him a bit just to create some separation and (he) just got me on the right spot I guess, and it just kept getting worse from there."
Johansen said he was close to telling head coach Peter Laviolette he couldn't finish the game but didn't have to once Corey Perry scored the overtime winner for Anaheim.
"It happened pretty fast," Johansen said of the situation after the game. "I got off the ice and I was having a tough time just standing and getting my gear off, and then obviously I went right back to the medical guys on our team. First thing, looked at it, looks like it was going to be a charley horse, started swelling up, so started icing it and doing all that stuff, and then I was going to go shower and come back and put some wrap on it, and then get home and get some rest.
"By the time I walked to the shower, finished showering, and tried to get on my underwear, I couldn't walk. I had to get one of the guys to grab a trainer and come back and help me to the medical room. And then the docs looked at it again, and the swelling increased by like triple it seemed in those 20 minutes when I was walking around and getting ready to go home.
"It turned into a pretty quick transition where I just needed to head over (to the hospital) and get it looked at and take the next step, I guess."
Johansen was diagnosed with acute compartment syndrome in his left thigh but suffered no permanent damage. His surgery took place within two hours of being diagnosed at the hospital. He said Wednesday he's expected to make a full recovery.
The 24-year-old led the Predators in points before sustaining the injury with three goals and 10 assists in 14 games. He said he believes he was playing the best two-way hockey of his career in the playoffs.
"Just the confidence I had on the ice, as players you know you're playing with confidence and comfortable on the ice when you want the puck all the time and that's just how I felt every time I was touching the ice and I think that's how my teammates were feeling when I was out there with them. They wanted me to have the puck and in my head, every shift I was out there it was like I was just begging for the puck, I wanted to make the plays,
"I just had a lot of confidence in my ability at the time and obviously a big reason why it sucks so much right now that I can't play anymore."
Johansen joined his teammates on crutches as the Predators were presented the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in Game 6.
"It was just awesome to go out there and stand beside the boys and enjoy that moment," Johansen said.
The Vancouver native said it's bittersweet to watching his team play for a Stanley Cup.
"It was pretty killer," Johansen said of the injury. "It's definitely been making it a lot easier right now, the guys being successful and putting themselves in a position to win the Cup.
"It's been pretty tough, I won't lie, it's been difficult and I'm sure it's going to be a little frustrating not being out there even moving forward now."
The Predators will face the either the Ottawa Senators or the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Cup Final, with Game 1 taking place on May 29.