Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha was making strides in his first full NHL season before it was cut short after a fight on March 30 with now-teammate Luke Witkowski, who was with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the time.
However, as far as any lingering hard feelings are concerned, there aren't any between the two teammates as the Red Wings continue their training camp in Traverse City, MI.
“We're fine,” Witkowski said on Saturday. “We were shooting some pucks yesterday and he kept hitting me in the hand and I was like, ‘You trying to get me back?' He said, ‘Yeah, I got to shoot it harder.' We're good. That's part of the game. Players understand that and leave it on the ice.”
Mantha echoed Witkowski's sentiments, and is able to now laugh about the incident.
“I laughed about it,” Mantha said Sunday. “The first thing is he's now a teammate and what happened last year happened last year. It's all over. I was laughing yesterday on Twitter when I saw he said I was shooting for his fingers there. We just joked about it. It's fun now. He's got my back for this year and that's what he's up here for.”
Before resuming his normal offseason training, Mantha had to wait three or four weeks for his finger to fully heal.
“I had another great summer, a long summer to work out, eat good, put some weight on,” Mantha said. “So I'm ready to go and I can't wait to hit the first exhibition game.”
The Red Wings will be depending on Mantha to aid their offense, which struggled all of last season.
“I don't want to have a slump this year,” Mantha said. “I want to have the best year I could. This year's my contract year. I also need to focus for that. I just want to be a good player in general and try to help the team out.”