What's Buzzing:

Puck Daddy

John Tortorella banned from Canucks for 15 days, without pay; NHL fines Hartley $25K

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

View photo


John Tortorella was suspended by the NHL on Monday for 15 days without pay from the Vancouver Canucks, after an incident Saturday night when he was caught on camera forcefully chasing the Calgary Flames coaches back to their dressing room after the first period.

Tortorella will miss six Canucks games; Vancouver has 10 games left before the Sochi Olympics break in the schedule.

The incident was sparked by Flames coach Bob Hartley’s decision to start his fourth line in the game, prompting Tortorella to send out his fourth line. The resulting line brawl resulted in 152 penalty minutes in just two seconds of play.

Hartley was given a $25,000 fine by the NHL for “conduct prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League”; in other words, for instigating the brawl with his player selection.

But it was Tortorella’s actions in the hallway to the Flames' dressing room that drew the biggest rebuke from the League. Hartley refused to acknowledge Tortorella when the Canucks coach profanely protested the lineup move with a tirade directed at the Calgary bench.

So Tortorella followed the Flames to their dressing room entrance and had to be physically restrained from going after them.

Here’s NHL VP of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell on Hartley:

"We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames' right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game's opening face-off and attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent -- the Canucks' Kevin Bieksa."

(Interesting that Bieksa moved up from his defensive position to take that faceoff against Westgarth to protect rookie Kellain Lain, making his NHL debut. It was a move Tortorella likely instructed, having done much the same thing as coach of the New York Rangers when he moved Stu Bickel up to take a draw in order to protect Brandon Dubinsky in a pending line brawl against the Devils in 2012.)

As for Tortorella, Campbell said:

"Mr. Tortorella's actions in attempting to enter the Calgary Flames locker room after the first period were both dangerous and an embarrassment to the League. Coaches in the NHL bear the responsibility of providing leadership, even when emotions run high, and Mr. Tortorella failed in his responsibility to the game."

Tortorella is not permitted to have any interaction with the Canucks prior to, during or after games. The suspension is retroactive to Jan. 19.

There’s no question Hartley instigated the incident. It’s something other coaches have done, including Tortorella himself in a Dec. 20, 2011 game at the Devils. Was there a way for Tortorella to defuse the incident by, say, putting his skill players out there? Potentially, although he ran the risk of having a John Scott-chasing-Phil Kessel incident like we saw earlier this season.

But more to the point: Hartley challenged the toughness of Tortorella’s team, and then antagonized a coach with the League's shortest fuse.

Tortorella’s response, however, was an embarrassment to the League, even if it may have crystallized his stature with the Canucks in the dressing room. It was a coach completely out of control, and then lying through his teeth about the deplorability of Hartley’s tactics as badly as Hartley lied about using them.

It followed other punished incidents – squirting a fan with a water bottle in 2009, openly wondering if there was an NHL/NBC conspiracy with the officiating after the 2012 Winter Classic – that also embarrassed the League.

So the NHL came down with a suspension that impacts Tortorella financially – how much was undisclosed – and takes him off the bench for six games within the competitive Western Conference.

It’s a ruling that hits Tortorella hard, while still holding Hartley accountable for his role in the melee. But will it be enough to cool a personal rivalry that goes all the way back to 1995, and apparently still rages 19 years later?

View Comments (693)
  • Questionable hits turning up heat between Penguins, Capitals

    Questionable hits turning up heat between Penguins, Capitals

    The number of hits the Washington Capitals have tried to level on the Pittsburgh Penguins through two contentious games in the Eastern Conference semifinals is not a surprise. Brooks Orpik's elbow to Olli Maatta's chin early in Game 2 ended with … More »

    AP - Sports - 4 hours ago
  • Sharks go 2-0 up against Predators

    Sharks go 2-0 up against Predators

    (Reuters) - The San Jose Sharks did not win any style points on Sunday but they won a playoff game they probably deserved to lose. Joe Pavelski's first goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs sparked San Jose to a 3-2 win over the Nashville … More »

    Reuters - 5 hours ago
  • NHL Three Stars: Backes, Pavelski play heroes in Game 2

    NHL Three Stars: Backes, Pavelski play heroes in Game 2

    Backes made a nifty play on his OT game-winner, leaping over an Alex Steen shot and then tucking home the rebound. It’s his third of the playoffs, and gave the Blues a 4-3 win … More »

    Puck Daddy - 5 hours ago
  • Pavelski's late goal gives Sharks 3-2 win over Predators

    Pavelski's late goal gives Sharks 3-2 win over Predators

    The Nashville Predators frustrated Joe Pavelski and San Jose's top line for much of the night, forcing turnovers, blocking shots and limiting chances. Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:40 left in regulation and Martin Jones stopped 37 … More »

    The Canadian Press - 6 hours ago
  • Blues beat Stars in OT, knot series at 1

    Blues beat Stars in OT, knot series at 1

    David Backes gave the St. Louis Blues a big gift on his 32nd birthday, with another overtime goal to go home even. What a serenade of ''Happy Birthday'' for the Blues captain from his teammates after Backes scored off a rebound during a power play … More »

    AP - Sports - 7 hours ago