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Report: Flames’ Westgarth was told to ‘make something happen’

Jan 20, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks AP

From The Province newspaper in Vancouver:

We are starting to hear a few of the details of the Saturday night punch-up between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks.

A person in position to know of such things, but who must remain nameless, has said that Kevin Bieksa, who apparently knows Calgary’s Kevin Westgarth, was told during their extended discussion at centre ice before the brawl started that the Flames tough guy admitted they’d been sent out to make something happen.

If true, that would contradict the story that Flames head coach Bob Hartley told after the game regarding his choice of starting players, which also included tough guy Brian McGrattan.

“Those guys are playing well for us,” Hartley said. “They got a goal last game. We’re not scoring many goals. We had zero intentions there.”

There’s been talk the NHL could fine Hartley for “player selection,” the same thing former Buffalo coach Ron Rolston was fined for in the preseason after the John ScottPhil Kessel altercation.

The league’s decision to fine Rolston in that case didn’t sit well with his coaching brethren, by the way.

Related: NHL will hold in-person meeting with Tortorella

  1. bucrightoff - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Ahh the old “unnamed sources”, and to boot coming from the extremely biased home-town paper? I’ll go ahead and assume this isn’t even remotely true.

    • 950003cups - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      THe “unnamed source” has been revealed. It was from a VERY respected and credible writer and hockey insider. His name is Eklund.

      • killerpgh - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:51 PM


      • kaptaanamerica - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:15 PM

        “not even remotely true”, so unless a source is revealed bucrightoff believes the information from an unnamed source is false. I wonder if he follows that logic in daily life, for example, if a police officer were to inform him that a source has revealed he’s got a price on his head, would “buc” tell the officer he doesn’t believe unnamed sources?? lols… anyone with half a brain cell and understanding would say that the story is entirely plausible, but we don’t know for sure. as for the local paper angle, does he think that some reporter from some other city should be calling sources in vancouver to get a scoop? how many reporters have sources in other cities just so they can follow a team in another city?

  2. canucks18 - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    The funny thing is that The Province newspaper has a majority of writers who write negative about the Canucks. So it’s probably not as biased as you might think

    • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      A guy named canucks18 defending this blog…..shocking lol

    • bucrightoff - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Please, read some of their comedic gold from the playoff run a few years ago. Vancouver fans and their writers have an extreme victim complex.

    • c9castine - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      look at you guy arguing about if its true or not or biased. my team is not in the same conference nor do i care about these teams so maybe my opinion will be counted as objective.

      these guys weren’t out there to score. period. its not even something that needs to be verified. its freakin obvious. so what? real problem here is not the line brawl but tortorella’s out of control and over the top behavior .

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM

        Frankly it’s all avoided by Tortorella starting a skilled line. BUT with that being said what Tortorella did was created an “everyone is against us, we need to stick together” rallying point. He also showed his players that he’ll take on an entire other team just to stand up for them, probably in hopes they’ll buy in.

        I’m really starting to think the entire thing was orchestrated by Tortorella, wouldn’t be surprised if Hartley was in on it as well because it gives the Flames their own rallying point and after the way they’ve played, especially at home, the last month they’ve needed something to get them back to playing competitive hockey.

  3. joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Yeah! It’s not a stretch to think that Hartley will be fined. Putting Westgarth at center wasn’t very subtle.

    • thesheabutterfactory - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      What!?! Yesterday you were accusing the Canucks of causing all this, criticizing Bieksa. You are just looking for people to trash without paying any attention to the facts. You are a clueless troll.

      • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        WTF! I never said it was Hartley fault. You’re just looking for trouble…. moron! Get the f out of here. And I never criticized Bieksa. FU!

        joey4id – Jan 19, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Everyone knows where I stand with respect to fighting. However, in the current context of the game, and considering how the Nucks have been playing recently, Sestito’s attacks on Jackamn and Nolan, one can hardly be surprised that Hartley wanted to make sure he preemptively addressed the belligerency of the crazy Canucks. I find Torts a tad hypocritical. He is the one who said the following about Sestito’s attack on Nolan; ““If Tommy Sestito did that again, I would applaud him.” And don’t tell me it’s about honor and respect according to Torts’ code. This is not war.

        joey4id – Jan 19, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        Why the hell would he try to win the faceoff when the opposing player on the draw is a d man who goes by the name of Bieksa? Need i say more?

      • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        So, you’re the clueless contributor here, the-she. 😉 Get that butter and smear it all over for us…. LOL!

      • imleftcoast - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        McGrath has taken two faceoffs this year. Bieksa stepped in to protect a kid in his first game from having to fight Calgary’s enforcer – promoted by Hartley to take the staring faceoff. Tortorella had to start his fourth line. Anyone who writes that he should have started his best players is a troll. Tortorella will get fined for going to the Calgary dressing room, but stop pretending to second guess him starting his fourth line.

      • thesheabutterfactory - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        Ok, you didn’t blame Hartley outright, but you suggested Hartley intentionally put Westgarth at center to start something( “Putting Westgarth at center wasn’t very subtle.”). How is he not at least the instigator, and, therefore, the person that caused the line brawl? You can’t have it both ways.

        Maybe you didn’t outright criticise Bieksa, but you suggested he was a goon, and, therefore, at fault(“Why the hell would he try to win the faceoff when the opposing player on the draw is a d man who goes by the name of Bieksa? Need i say more?”). What else would you mean by “need I say more”? At the time you made that comment, you clearly didn’t understand that Biekse stepped in, on his own accord, in place of a rookie, and rather then fight tried to bear hug Westgarth to diffuse the situation.

        You are not paying attention to facts, just bashing a team you clearly hate. That is a troll.

        Sure you didn’t say outright that Hartley was responsible and you criticised Bieksa in a underhanded way, but your implications are clear, and you are a coward for not owning them.

      • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:39 PM

        I didn’t say it was to start something. I don’t know what was going through his head. However, according to the rule book, the NHL can fine based on player selection. If Hartley’s intent was to get a line brawl going by putting Westgarth at center, then it wasn’t a subtle move.

        Torts didn’t have to start his 4th line. If we were in the 1970s, then yes. In today’s NHL the non fighters are protected more than ever in the history if the game. No one was going to jump the Sedins like Bertuzzi jumped Moore. C’mon. Lets be serious.

        Boston tried a similar tactic versus TB when Boucher was the coach there. He countered with his top players which left the Bs scrambling to defend themselves against the more talented players.

        I never suggested Bieksa was a goon. Bieksa is the real deal, and never shies away from a fight. That’s what I meant. Stop putting words in my “writing”. Bieksa is a tough customer and a very good d man. Very far from being a goon.

        Why didn’t Bieksa line up against Westgarth immediately? I get that he wanted to protect the rookie. My point is he wasn’t there right away. So, Westgarth had to be expecting Bieksa to want to go. Instead Bieksa didn’t, and that’s ok.

        And of course you’re right. I’m coward for not owning up for what you think I meant. Are you happy now? Can we kiss and make up?

        😘 💋 💑

      • kaptaanamerica - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:18 PM

        shea butter, don’t bother arguing the point with him. everyone knew what he was implying. You were right all along. fyi, i like your name.

  4. imleftcoast - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    If you’re starting and not told to ‘make something happen,’ the coach is missing something. The Hartley quote is a lot more damning, he didn’t start those guys because they got a goal last game.

  5. nj666 - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    “make something happen” well that pretty vague….

    • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      It’s not as vague as the so called source…

      • kaptaanamerica - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        dueman wants a personally written letter, video and a home visit to believe a source…. lols

        are you suffering from blue and white syndrome/ disease of the brain

  6. sjsharks66 - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    I do not think Torts is to blame for the brawl. Like he said, what was he supposed to do? Put the Sedins out there with McGratton? This all started with Calgary submitting their starting lineup.

    However Torts storming the Calgary locker room and making things physical is unacceptable and should be punished heavily by the league.

    • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Can you blame Flame coach for starting the tough boys against a team that’s been playing goon hockey recently? If you want to blame someone, you can always blame the players for dropping the mitts. The league puts up with fighting, the players fight, the coaches expect it when they feel retribution is proper, players fight to defend their teammate who rec’d a clean check, and fight when there is a questionable dirty check. So, maybe it’s all on the players.

    • nj666 - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      I would have started my best line… they could have taken advantage of that by using their skilled guys to score… instead torts decided to be equally as dumb.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      McGrattan is a fighter but he’s not a goon, he’s not a cheap player (Vancouver fans may disagree based on the questionable elbowing major against Alberts) he shows respect for his opponents (he won’t throw a punch at a player who can’t defend himself etc) and he’s never been suspended, he wasn’t going to grab a Sedin and start pummelling them, saying that because he’s on the ice the Canucks had to protect themselves is ridiculous, by that rationale anytime a team puts on a fighter the other team should automatically counter with their fighter because otherwise the uncontested fighter will just pound on everyone on the ice.

      Oh and for all of this “Bieksa was protecting the rookie” crap, this isn’t an undersized player who’s in the nhl based on skill alone, he’s 6’1 220 (those numbers might be low) and has fought all through his hockey career, he could look after himself, and frankly if he were the centre and fought his nhl debut would have been more than 2 seconds because he would have been in the initial fight and wouldn’t have been thrown out for a secondary fight. Instead you had Bieksa step in to “protect him” only to refuse to fight Westgarth (fully within his rights) before deciding to start a fight with the much less menacing Ladislav Smid. Because of this you end up with Westgarth, Smid, Bieksa and the rookie all being tossed when likely none of them would if Bieksa hadn’t “protected” him.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:15 PM

        Two points:
        1) McGrattan isn’t normally dirty and I have some respect for him for that, but just because he’s not the type of guy to grab them and start punching them doesn’t mean that he (or Westgarth, or anyone else on the ice) might not be trying just a bit to hard to hit them and cross the line between legal and illegal. If a Sedin (or Burrows, in his first game back from a broken jaw) get injured as a result, Torts get skewered.

        2) You’re way off on Lain’s size, as he’s 6’6″ and 220lb, but you’re also off on the kind of player Lain is. While he is big, he’s not necessarily a skilled or experienced fighter. He’s fought a bit in the AHL this year, but was playing in college prior to that where there is no fighting. He can handle himself a bit still, but he’s more of a defensive/faceoff specialist who plays physical by hitting rather than fighting. It’s a small thing to not put Lain in that situation where Westgarth can grab him while Lain is legitimately trying to take his first ever NHL faceoff, but I’m sure Lain preferred to be better prepared after the draw since Westgarth was almost inevitably looking to fight someone.

  7. dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Come on Brough…I know this is a traffic driven website, but you are just throwing your integrity out the window with this kind of crap. If you are going to write this kind of nonsense, maybe the name of the site should be changed to The National Enquirer of Hockey Talk. You should be ashamed to have printed this.

    • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      What’s your problem? The guy just reported what was written in “The Province”. You have a problem with that….

      • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:06 PM

        Joey, You are just looking for people to trash without paying any attention to the facts. You are a clueless troll….Now before you come back with something stupid to say, remember that I’m just reporting what was written by “thesheabutterfactory” so you must be okay with that right!

      • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        Hahahaha! That was funny! Good one! :-)

      • thesheabutterfactory - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:18 PM

        Awwwwww.. You guys are cute. I make valid points and back them up with logic and you guys respond by making fun of my name……my name which is a joke, anyway. I’m so glade you two found each other.

      • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        Glad you took that the way it was meant :)

      • thesheabutterfactory - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        Enough with the smiley faces! You are grown men, have some pride!

      • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        theshe- from a grown man to you with rainbow pride… 💋

      • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        thesheabutterfactory – I realize that life can be confusing to small minded individuals like yourself, so I’ll take a minute to explain something to you here….NOBODY was making fun of you or your name! In fact you were not part of this conversation at all. I know that sometimes it’s hard to hear that the world doesn’t revolve around you but I just thought that sugar coating it might confuse you further. On that subject, I hear that therapy is always a good option for people such as yourself with that glaringly obvious inferiority complex of yours! You have a nice day now!

        Almost forgot :) :) :)

    • Jason Brough - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      “You should be ashamed to have printed this.”
      Climb down off your high horse for a second while I explain what a “report” means.

      • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        I’m not on any high horse (although that sounds kinda fun) I’m right here on level ground where “integrity” still means something. Shall I explain what “integrity” means? If you are okay with yourself with this “report” then fine….I just thought you were better than this.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        Don’t worry, he’s one of the many people on here you can ignore.

      • Jason Brough - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        Better than what — passing along something that was written in one of the two biggest newspapers in the Vancouver market by a reporter that’s been covering the NHL for over 40 years? No, that’s actually part of my job. Is this the first time you’ve read a report quoting an unnamed source?
        But hey, feel free to explain why this isn’t worth passing along to PHT readers. You haven’t really done that yet, specifically. Are you saying the reporter is making stuff up out of the blue? If that’s your argument, again, please do share your reasons why. From level ground, of course. The same place I believe you once argued the Leafs didn’t sign David Clarkson to score goals. Just a $36.75 million role player.

      • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        Brough – At least I can name Nonis as my source on that comment. The Province printing that without naming a source is nothing more than a work of fiction, and you reprinting it is nothing more than spreading rumours. Like I already stated, If you are okay with yourself with this, fine, but I’m still entitled to my opinion. If you don’t like my opinion, which obviously you don’t, then maybe you should hold yourself to a higher level of “reporting” To say that you are just reporting what someone else reported is just passing the buck. You reprinted this story and attached your name to it, which means that you may as well have written it yourself. Your work, your choice I guess…

      • Jason Brough - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        “You reprinted this story and attached your name to it, which means that you may as well have written it yourself.”
        Laughably, delightfully wrong.

      • dueman - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Keep telling yourself that….

  8. vbcaps - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    My boss at my job tells me to ‘make things happen’ all the time

  9. thesheabutterfactory - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    Anybody who watches that faceoff can see that the Flames, and specifically Westgarth, were looking for blood. It was very obvious. That being said, a line brawl isn’t that big of a deal. It was kind of awesome.

    • imleftcoast - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:41 PM

      This is a pretty good point. If you’re going to report on a report, why not post the hissy fit PJ Stock had on Hockey Night in Canada? Aaron Ward was on the tsn station in Vancouver this morning (love the TuneIn app) calling out the histrionics. The CBC loves to blow smoke for the League office, but plenty of responsibility on that side for this. Kerry Fraser had a pretty good post about what the ref might have done to manage the situation. Can’t call penalties for intention, but he could have read them the riot act before it got out of hand.

  10. soro17 - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    If McGrattan was playing so well and making such a positive contribution, how come he played less than 3 mintues for the rest of the game (while the team was down to 10 forwards, albeit after sitting out for the first 15 minutes)? Someone should ask ‘Artley that.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:21 PM

      But he and Westgarth were on the ice for the second of Calgary’s two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Jets. Sure they didn’t get a point, and McGratton hasn’t had a point since Dec 12 (Westgarth hasn’t had a point all year), but that line was “bringing energy and playing well previously” and deserved the start.

      • soro17 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:47 PM

        Not really my question – if McGratton was such a difference-maker, why didn’t he play more when the Flames were down to only 10 forwards? I have no problem with Hartley starting McGratton & co – he had start whoever he wants. I just found his ‘we are innocent’ response to be extremely disingenuous.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        I was supporting your point, with my reply being largely sarcasm mixed with facts that actually counter Hartley’s statement that the 4th line was deserving of the start because of their production.

  11. micasa81 - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Of course the hometown paper is biased, as most hometown papers tend to be. The fact that Westgarth is about as proficient at taking draws as…well, Kevin Bieksa…tells me all I need to know about Hartley’s intentions. You don’t need some mysterious source talking to Bieksa to figure that one out.

    And as far as Torts’ second eruption after the period, lots has been said about how it reflects on the game, it’s disgraceful, embarrassing, blah-blah…and that’s all fine. I don’t get too worked up about coaches’ or players’ antics because I’m under no illusions that hockey is some gentleman’s game where nice things are said after goals, wins, etc. When all is said and done, even without the fighting, hockey is a barbaric activity where things occur that nobody in their right mind would accept in general public life.

    What does concern me, as a Vancouver fan, is how Torts’ temper affects his ability to coach. Don’t get me wrong, I think that in lots of situations, his fiery attitude helps the team. But when I saw him getting progressively more livid as the line brawl played itself out, and then trying to fight his way to Hartley in the dressing room after the period was over, it really gave me doubts about how clear a head he had during any of the first period. Fortunately, in this situation, it was a regular season game against Calgary. What if it’s the playoffs and something sets him off? The whole “we won’t be pushed around anymore” mantra notwithstanding, it’s not a very reassuring display.

  12. hockeyflow33 - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    It has to be so demeaning to make it to the NHL and then have your coach fined for starting you

  13. dropthepuckeh - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    I’m pretty sure all of the guys on the 4th line knew that they were out there to “make something happen” regardless of whether Hartley verbalized it or not. His message was clear. Torts understood it and if he wanted to, he could have taken the high road and started the twins. If anyone jumps them they turtle and Calgary is looking at Thornton like suspensions. Torts can’t have it both ways….

    • elvispocomo - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      Turtling might not help a player in Henrik Sedin who was questionable at best to even play, nor would it help Burrows who was in his first game back after a broken jaw. If either are injured from Hartley choosing to start his 4th line tough guys, then all the suspensions in the world won’t matter.

  14. blackhawks2010 - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Congratulations idiots, you just set back the NHL 10 years. Well done. Players like Westgarth shouldn’t even be in the NHL, he’s a joke.

  15. hardkor07mn - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    When did Chris Kluwe learn to skate?
    Sorry I had to.

  16. buford2000 - Jan 21, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    No coach should be told what players he can and can not put on the ice at any time. He’s the coach, it’s his decision. I’m a Sabres fan and don’t agree with it when Rolston got fined and don’t agree with it happening to any coach.

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