Saturday night in Vancouver was supposed to wrap up a wonderful celebration of the sport, in Hockey Day in Canada. The day was filled with NHL action, as well as other hockey all over the country. That all took a weird left turn when Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa pushed rookie debutante Kellan Lain out of the faceoff circle against Calgary’s tough guy Kevin Westgarth. The puck dropped, as well as 10 sets of gloves. Here’s what occured:
The refs had quite the time breaking this all up, and figuring out the penalty situation, trying to stuff all 5 members of each line into the penalty box. It looked a little cramped in there.
Eventually, the blood was cleared off the ice, and the penalties were tallied up, and looked like this:
00:02 CGY Ladislav Smid Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 VAN Kevin Bieksa Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 CGY Brian McGrattan Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 VAN Tom Sestito Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 CGY Blair Jones Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 VAN Dale Weise Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 CGY Chris Butler Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 VAN Jason Garrison Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 CGY Kevin Westgarth Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 VAN Kellan Lain Fighting (maj) – 5 min
00:02 CGY Kevin Westgarth served by Joe Colborne Roughing – 2 min
00:02 CGY Kevin Westgarth Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 CGY Chris Butler Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 CGY Blair Jones Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 CGY Brian McGrattan Misconduct – 10 min
00:02 CGY Ladislav Smid Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 VAN Kellan Lain Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 VAN Dale Weise Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 VAN Tom Sestito Misconduct – 10 min
00:02 VAN Kevin Bieksa Game misconduct – 10 min
00:02 VAN Jason Garrison Game misconduct – 10 min
Everyone in the fight got a 5 minute major. Brian McGrattan and Tom Sestito were called the primary fight, and got 10 minute misconducts, while everyone else, including Kellan Lain, who was playing in his first NHL game, with his family in from Ontario, got game misconducts, and were kicked out. The total ended up being 152 penalty minutes. They played 2 seconds. At that rate…yikes.
During this, Vancouver coach John Tortorella, no stranger to opening faceoff line brawls, got pretty mad, for some reason, at Flames coach Bob Hartley, and started yelling at him, likely for the lineup Hartley put out. He was so mad, that even after the first period, he chased down Hartley to the Flames’ locker room.
Keep in mind, Tortorella is the home coach, and had the advantage of submitting his starting lineup after seeing who the Flames were going to start, and, well, not put out his 4th line against Calgary’s 4th line. All this could have been prevented by a little snap decision by Torts.
All the blame, in my humble opinion, goes to John Tortorella. He’s seen this shpiel before. He knows how people look at this event and shake their heads. He could have done something about it. This fight had the looks of a staged brawl. Not quiteat the level of Doug “The Thug” Glatt vs. Ross “The Boss” Rhea, but nothing is that staged. Although both teams had been struggling to that point in recent times, and you could say this was to “spark some energy”, you could have just had one guy go at another guy a little later than the opening faceoff. But nope, Torts put his tough guys out against the Flames tough guys, and everyone grabbed a dance partner. Tortorella had this to say after the game:
“I see the starting lineup and I know the guy across the bench. I can’t put our players at risk that way. I’m not proud of it. I’ve apologized to the players involved. My biggest mistake was putting Lain in the starting lineup. I thought my players responded tremendously. I don’t want that in the game, but I have to protect my players too.”
Yeah, I’m gonna call B.S., he could have put someone else out. Didn’t have to be the Sedin twins, but it certainly didn’t have to be the tough guys. I feel real bad for that kid Kellan Lain. Also for those poor defensemen who had to play close to 35 minutes, because the game went overtime.
This all could have been avoided. John Tortorella should know better by now. You would think so, right?