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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- I wrote Monday of Julien Sprunger's courageous comeback from a broken neck in May to play in these Olympic Games.
Although I don't think the hit was dirty, it was Team USA forward David Backes who drilled Sprunger in a game last spring in Switzerland. So, as the Swiss forward told ESPN.com Monday, Tuesday's game against Backes and the Americans was very emotional for him.
Well, I couldn't help but notice a run-in between the two players in the second period, which was followed later by Backes yelling something to Sprunger as he skated by the U.S. team.
"He said something to the effect of, 'I'll do it to you again if you want,'" Sprunger told ESPN.com, in French, after the 3-1 loss to Team USA.
Backes, a tough but fair player, quickly denied he said that to Sprunger.
"I think I told him to keep his head up when he was running around a little bit," Backes said.
The St. Louis Blues forward, who scored a gorgeous goal in Tuesday's opener, said he respected Sprunger and the type of game he played and certainly doesn't feel good about what happened in May.
"I was pretty distraught that it happened the first time. You don't ever want to hurt anybody," Backes said. "It was a hard, finished check. He's a good player, and I'm glad he's back on the ice. We had a good battle today, we had a few run-ins, but I don't think I would stoop that low to dig my fingers and pour salt in the wound."
Good ol' trash-talking, Olympics style.