John Tortorella dislikes Bob Hartley.
Maybe “dislikes” doesn’t properly convey the emotion between the Vancouver Canucks coach and his Calgary Flames counterpart, who antagonizes Tortorella on a Avery-vs.-Brodeur level. They have history with each other dating back to the 1990s, and that anger boiled over this season when Tortorella was suspended for 15 days after being physically restrained from attacking Hartley on Jan. 18 after the Flames coach’s personnel decisions sparked a line brawl.
“I was going to get him. I’m not going to lie to you,” said Tortorella on Monday, recalling the incident.
The feud grew on Sunday when the Flames’ Paul Byron put Daniel Sedin on a stretcher with a hit, and Tortorella felt the Flames coach's "embarassing" behavior that followed was over the line in a meaningless game.
“I probably shouldn’t say anything, but he pisses me off. I just don’t like the disrespect. It aggravates me,” said Tortorella on Hartley. “I just don’t like the way he does business. I don’t like’em. I need to protect my players. A lot of people don’t understand that.
“It aggravates the [crap] outta me. It’s bush league,” he said, before cutting off his postgame press conference in frustration.
Hartley hasn’t engaged in much verbal sparring with Tortorella during this feud.
Then again, why does he need to when he has smack talkin’ Brian Burke as a boss.
Burke, in his postseason press conference, addressed the Tortorella comments as one expected he would.
Burke felt Tortorella’s anger was focused on the notion that Hartley was arguing for penalties on the Canucks for attacking Byron after the hit, and doing so when Sedin was still being treated.
"So what Bob Hartley did last night was exactly what John Tortorella would have done had it been one of our players lying on the ice and he felt there was an inequity in the penalty call. So for him to afterward say it was disgusting and all that - John Tortorella, who's a friend of mine - should start worrying about John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks and stop worry about us. Our coach acted completely appropriately last night and Torts ought to keep his mouth shut."
Burke also said later, on Tortorella’s personal attack on Hartley:
"I really don't care. Like, days and weeks go by where I don't care what John Tortorella thinks about our team. I can promise you, it's been since January 18 where I've worried about it and I'm not going to worry about it tomorrow. I don't know why he seems so worried about our team. He should be worried about his team. And John Tortorella was on my staff for the Olympics in 2010. He's a good guy. I don't know what's going on in his head, but you know what? Shut your mouth and worry about your team. Leave my coach alone."
To your corners, gentlemen, for the offseason; then please, come out fighting next fall. Assuming Tortorella is still coaching somewhere in the NHL, as Burke said Hartley’s back next season.