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?

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Sputtering Sharks meet porous Ducks

      A team with a sputtering offense meets an opponent with a porous defense when the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks clash Friday night at the Honda Center. The Sharks, Stanley Cup finalists last season, are near the bottom of the NHL in goals … More »

      AP - Sports - 2 minutes 17 seconds ago
    • Hayes' late power-play goal lifts Rangers past Jets, 2-1

      Hayes' late power-play goal lifts Rangers past Jets, 2-1

      Kevin Hayes was at the right place at the right time. Hayes scored a power-play goal with 1:09 left in the third period to lift the New York Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. Jets forward Drew Stafford was in the … More »

      AP - Sports - 8 minutes ago
    • Flames extend streak to 5 with OT win

      Flames extend streak to 5 with OT win

      The Calgary Flames expected a fight from a desperate team and got one. Once they shook off a slow start, the Flames fought back and Dougie Hamilton scored a crafty overtime goal to extend their winning streak to five games. Hamilton scored 1:09 … More »

      AP - Sports - 23 minutes ago
    • Kevin Hayes scores winner late on the power play as Rangers edge Jets

      Kevin Hayes scores winner late on the power play as Rangers edge Jets

      Kevin Hayes was at the right place at the right time Thursday night. The New York forward scored a ricocheting power-play goal with 1:09 left in the third period to lift the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. "I think it was a greasy … More »

      The Canadian Press - 27 minutes ago
    • Price loses cool, lifts Habs over Devils

      Price loses cool, lifts Habs over Devils

      After being run into for a second time in one period, ever-steady Canadiens goaltender Carey Price lost it. Price, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, pummeled New Jersey forward Kyle Palmieri with his blocker in the first period of … More »

      AP - Sports - 28 minutes ago