Just two seconds into the Calgary Flames’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks, every single skater on the ice dropped the gloves and went at it. The line brawl resulted in eight misconducts and 10 fighting majors, which obviously significantly shortened both benches for the rest of the game. Both teams were left with four defenders each.
By the time the dust had settled on the first period, 188 penalty minutes had been dished out.
Calgary coach Bob Hartley sent his fourth line out to start the game, which led Vancouver coach John Tortorella to respond with his own fourth line. To illustrate just how nasty things were about to get, Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa took the opening draw against Calgary’s Kevin Westgarth. After much discussion and positioning, the gloves were off and the fists were flying. The throng at Rogers Arena mostly ate it up.
Kellan Lain made his debut for the Canucks, during the storied Hockey Day in Canada no less, and wound up getting kicked out of the game in two seconds. That has to be some kind of a record.
As expected, Tortorella was going nuts on the Vancouver bench. He was livid that Hartley would start his fourth line and carried his animosity over into the intermission, where he actually tried to get at the Calgary Flames coaching staff.
Yes, the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks made his way down his own team’s hallway, booted it through the main hallway and entered the visiting team’s hallway.
So what will come out of this one? That’s hard to say.
From his point of view, the Flames came to the dance with their enforcers. Tortorella responded with his own rather than putting out his top line, obviously. “I couldn’t put the Sedins at risk like that, I just couldn’t take that chance,” he said after the game. “I’ve apologized to all the players involved and my big mistake was putting Lainer (Kellen Lain) in the starting lineup. I feel very badly about that.”
The latest word is that Tortorella will be having a hearing with the league on Monday. The hearing will be with Colin Campbell.
“I thought my players responded tremendously,” he said. “Listen, it shouldn’t be in the game, that stuff. I don’t want it in the game but I have to protect my team, too.”
It’s not the first time Tortorella’s team has been involved in a line brawl off the top, of course. In March of 2012, his New York Rangers took on the New Jersey Devils. That time, Peter DeBoer started the game with his brawlers and Torts countered with his goons. A defenceman even slid up to take the draw.
There was a hockey game in there somewhere on Saturday night and the Canucks took the 3-2 victory. Roberto Luongo returned and looked solid in net, but all most will remember is the brawl that took over Hockey Day in Canada.