Predators forward Ryan Johansen isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of Ryan Kesler. The feeling is mutual.
The feud between the two began during Game 2 of the 2017 Western Conference finals, where the Ducks forward delivered an elbow to the side of Johansen’s head. The two didn’t shy away from the physicality throughout the 60-minute stretch, and Johansen had a strong message for Kesler after the game.
“He just blows my mind. I don’t know what’s going through his head out there,” Johansen said. “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, so I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey and it sucks when you gotta pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”
#NHLDucks’ Ryan Kesler delivers a vicious elbow to the head of Ryan Johansen. These two have been going at it all game. #Preds #NSHvsANA pic.twitter.com/65ZaGk7STM
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) May 15, 2017
Johansen waited until the following season to try to exact a bit of revenge against the Ducks. On March 8, with Nashville leading Anaheim 3-0 late in the second period, Kesler and Johansen immediately dropped the gloves. The fight didn’t last long, as Kesler proceeded to mock Johansen’s fighting ability — cowering with his arms over his head.
Just when the belief was that the dust settled; Johansen reignited the war of words between the two this summer.
“You know, I’m in the offseason right now, I’m in the summer mode,” Johansen told Sportsnet 650 in June. “I’ve actually got a tee time coming up later today — and the last name I want to hear about is Ryan Kesler.”
Two months went by before Kesler would respond to Johansen’s comment.
@RyanJohansen19 How’s summer training going? Want to meet me in the streets before we get going on the ice?
— Ryan Kesler (@Ryan_Kesler) August 5, 2018
For fans invested in the on-ice antics between the Predators and Ducks, they won’t have to wait long when the regular season begins. Nashville visits Anaheim on Nov. 12 before the Predators host Kesler nearly two weeks later on Nov. 25.