Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella has been suspended for 15 days without pay for his actions on Saturday night. That amounts to six games.
Tortorella missed his team’s practice to attend a disciplinary hearing in New York with league officials. The NHL knew they had to send a message after CBC cameras caught the coach trying to barge into the Calgary Flames dressing room area in an attempt to get at coach Bob Hartley. The Canucks bench boss was peeved that Hartley started his fourth line off the opening draw, which led to a line brawl and eight players getting kicked out of the contest.
“I think it shows how passionate he is and how much he cares about his team,” said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “The other guy (Hartley), I don’t know what he was thinking. But I think you respect a coach more when you see that he’ll watch your back and you see how much he cares. We’re not just pawns out there.”
“No matter who you talk to in this (dressing) room, everyone knows (Tortorella) is changing the culture of this team,” said Zack Kassian.
Of course, Colin Campbell’s opinion likely differed. “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,” said the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations.
This could be considered a worthy sacrifice if it does the job of solidifying the Canucks’ locker room. If what the players are saying is any indication, it may be mission accomplished for Tortorella – no matter what he thought he was doing on Saturday night.
Assistant coach Mike Sullivan will take over in Tortorella’s absence.
Meanwhile, Hartley was fined for instigating the line brawl as a result of the line he put on the ice, something the league calls “conduct prejudicial to or against the welfare of the league.”
Tortorella and Hartley are no strangers to each other, boasting a rivalry that goes back to the mid-1990s. Ah, history.