Hockey Headlines

Monday, 20 January 2014

Two To Tango

I don't blame John Tortorella for being irate over what happened at the start of the game between his Canucks and the visiting Calgary Flames on Saturday night. Some of you will disagree with me, and that's ok too. That's a healthy place to start this discussion since it takes two to tango. I love that Tortorella got angry and lost his mind over the starting lineup that Hartley rolled out onto Rogers Arena ice. And while I fully endorse the idea of Tortorella being suspended for what he did during the intermission, the NHL got it wrong by not handing down stiff punishment to Bob Hartley.

Let's be honest here: if you're John Tortorella with the last change, do you really send out the Sedins and Kesler if you see Brian McGrattan, Kevin Westgarth, Blair Jones, Chris Butler, and Ladislav Smid standing at center ice? While I respect Brian McGrattan for what he's done off the ice, you know he's basically in Calgary's lineup for one reason only. Therefore, Tortorella did the only he could do, and he sent his fourth line over the boards to match-up against the Flames' biggest hombres.

At this point, being the veteran coach that he is, Tortorella knew what was coming. And it's why he blew his stack during and after the line brawl concluded as seen above. This was a premeditated act by Hartley, and Tortorella knew how it was going to play out.

In saying this, let's cut the crap that is pouring out from the Calgary side of the ledger here. Bob Hartley actually said with a straight face, "We had absolutely zero intentions there. Those guys are playing well for us. They got us a goal last game."

Yeah, he said that. For real. Without laughing.

To kick a little more phony in your face, he added, "As far as I know, they were the home team, so they had the luxury to put whoever they wanted out on the ice."

Clearly, Hartley's having fun with this one. Hartley's right about the Canucks having the last change, but it's hard to get past the hulking fighters that Hartley put on the ice when considering who Tortorella is going to send over the boards. So cut the crap, Hartley, and admit that you were looking to light the spark that would set the powder keg off. Attempted and achieved, I'd say.

If I was John Tortorella, I would have been irate as well. I don't know that I would have gone down the hallway towards the Flames' dressing room, but to each their own, right? It's that move - the stalking of the Flames' head coach into his team's dressing room - that will cost John Tortorella.

How much, you ask? As of tonight, he's been given a 15-day, six-game vacation from the team by the NHL. He is to have no contact with the team in any fashion during this suspension which began yesterday. He'll also forfeit a pile of money during his two-week break, but that amount has yet to be nailed down in exact figures. In short, Tortorella was suspended two weeks for charging after Bob Hartley towards the Flames' dressing room in a fit of rage.

Hopefully, that will be enough time for him to cool down. Twitter seems to want see Tortorella use this time off to its full advantage.
Not a bad idea, right? How funny would that be?

In any case, Bob Hartley didn't escape punishment, but it seems like he got off way too easy considering that he instigated this spectacle. The NHL fined Hartley $25,000 for his contribution on Saturday night, but I feel that Tortorella's suspension is far heavier in light of how this entire debacle unfolded. Of course, Brian Burke feigned all sorts of disbelief over this fine in his comments, stating, "I am perplexed by this fine. I stand behind Bob Hartley completely in this regard and remain confident that he acted properly in every aspect of this game."

Excuse me while I vomit.

If the NHL truly find this sort of behavior embarrassing, the NHL needs to fine Brian Burke and the Calgary Flames heavily just to send a clear and concise message that this horsepoop has gone far enough. They needed to suspend both Bob Hartley and John Tortorella for the same amount of time, and they need to issue a blanket statement to the rest of its teams explaining how this sort of staged crap won't be tolerated at any point in time at any level. "Unacceptable" would be just the tip of the iceberg for anyone even considering similar actions.

Like a parent of two misbehaving children, you can't punish the retaliating child for being goaded into the fight, and John Tortorella was goaded into that fracas. The instigator has to be taught a lesson as well, and I think that Bob Hartley got off pretty easy. After all, it takes two to tango, and both Hartley and Tortorella need to share the blame and the punishment equally for their parts in what took place Saturday night. It sends a clear message that starting the fight will not be tolerated similar to catching the child who threw the retaliatory punch.

But that didn't happen. Is Saturday night's dance one that the NHL really wants to see again? All the NHL did was show the rest of the league that starting the fight comes with no consequences. Is that the right message to be sending after branding Saturday's events as an "embarrassment"?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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