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Torts reform: NHL suspends Tortorella 15 days — six games — for antics vs. Calgary

Jan 20, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT

Referees get in the way of Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella as he screams at the Calgary Flames bench during first period NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia Saturday Jan. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) AP

Vancouver head coach John Tortorella has been suspended 15 days — covering six regular season games — for his actions during Saturday’s game against the Flames, the league announced on Monday.

“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,” said NHL hockey ops VP Colin Campbell in a statement. “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.”

Tortorella’s suspension is retroactive to Jan. 19 and runs through Feb. 2. According to the NHL, he is “not permitted to have any interaction with his club prior to, during or after games.” He will miss games against Edmonton, Nashville, Phoenix, Edmonton (again), Chicago and Winnipeg, eligible to return for a Feb. 3 date against Detroit.

The Canucks and GM Mike Gillis issued the following statement in response:

“We respect the decision made by the National Hockey League today to suspend John Tortorella for 15 days from Sunday, with no contact with the team for six games. 

“We would also like to acknowledge our organization’s full support for John and we look forward to having him back behind the bench soon.”

It’s worth noting this is the second time Tortorella’s been suspended by the league. He served a one-game ban during the 2009 playoffs for throwing a water bottle at a fan.

This latest incident occurred during the first intermission of a wild game, which began with a line brawl two seconds into the contest and culminated with Tortorella trying to go after Flames head coach Bob Hartley between periods — this after Tortorella spent much of the first yelling at Hartley from the bench.

There were 150 penalty minutes assessed to both sides (81 to Calgary, 69 to Vancouver) by the time the contest was less than five minutes old.

“I’m not proud of it,” Tortorella said afterward.

The crux of the issue was with Hartley’s player selection to start Saturday’s game — putting out Kevin Westgarth and Brian McGrattan — and Tortorella feeling the need to respond (by starting NHL penalty minutes leader Tom Sestito.)

Earlier today, a report from The Province claimed Westgarth was sent out to start the game to “make something happen.” If true, that would contradict the story that Hartley told after the game regarding his choice of starting players.

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

Hartley was fined $25,000 for his actions.

  1. killerpgh - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    Harsh, Too harsh, imo. And I hate Torts.

    • storminator16 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:41 PM

      Might be do to his previous fines as well. Who knows. I think he deserved a game but 15 days is kind of ridiculous.

      • killerpgh - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:45 PM

        True. Plus I’m pretty sure he was suspended for a playoff game for throwing a water bottle at a Caps fan.

      • storminator16 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        Ha, I forgot about that one. Good times.

      • charlieconway96 - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:26 PM

        Seriously, what am I supposed to do for 15 days without any “John Tortorella snaps, head spins 360 degrees while forcing one ref to eat another whole while inside opponents dressing room” news???

      • storminator16 - Jan 21, 2014 at 8:54 AM

        My guess is that Torts went into the meeting and probably said some things he shouldn’t have. Otherwise, 15 days doesn’t make any sense.

      • storminator16 - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        Well, splash cold water on my last comment. Colin Campbell stated that Gillis & Torts agreed that a mistake was made and the league didn’t like the optics of it all. Believed a line was cross when one coach goes after another.

        Still, if CBC didn’t air that intermission skirmish I don’t think this would be a big deal. I think this is all about what happened at the opening face-off and the fact Torts was involved. This league is getting soft.

    • storminator16 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:45 PM

      And the wussification of hockey continues. Evidently, the league takes its cues from non-fans like Peter Gammons. That guy just needs to stick to romanticizing about softball.

      • comeonnowguys - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        And the “wussification” narrative continues. Yawn.

    • killerpgh - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      What’s worse? Going to another teams locker room between periods pissed off or going to the refs locker room pissed off between periods? I would think the messing with the refs would get you in more trouble. But apparently that’s not the case. Dan Carcillo only got 2 games for going after the refs between periods in his final game with the Flyers.

  2. joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Hi! My name is Joey, and I approve. Contrary to popular belief I don’t get paid by the NHL.

    • storminator16 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      I’m not going to bother thumbs downing you, dude. I stopped with that awhile ago. At least you are consistent (most of the time).

      Question: why do you think 15 games is appropriate?

      • storminator16 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        oops, I meant 15 days.

      • joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        Well! Firstly, going to the opposing dressing room, referees dressing room, or just starting an incident in the hallway is frowned upon big time. You can’t conduct yourself like you are in the WWF. Secondly, Torts has a history of suspensions. So, I was expecting 5 games, but he got 6.

        The really sad think about all this is the fact that the Nucks are 2 5 3 in the last 10 games. The player’s indiscipline has cost them big time pts, and now they lose their coach. It’s sad for the team, and their fans. Remember! He can’t be around the team during his suspension. I just hope they don’t fall further back from a playoff spot. They have too good of a team to be playing like they have been.

  3. c9castine - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    wow. gotta say, thats a stiff penalty. I’m glad they fined hartley too.

  4. joey4id - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    BTW, I was expecting Hartley to be fined, but I thought it would be no more than 15k. Nonetheless, I approve. 😉

    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.

    • cofran2004 - Jan 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Dont separate your shoulder patting yourself on the back there, joey.

      • joey4id - Jan 21, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        hehehe! If I don’t who will? 🌠

      • cofran2004 - Jan 21, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        It’s true…. you tend to get thumbs downed all the time, even when you do make a good point. I’m thinking people just thumbs down you when they see your name.

      • joey4id - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Yeah! Sometimes I think some geek wrote a script that automatically thumbs me down the second I post something.

  5. esracerx46 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    Good. He lost his marbles. Stiff? Yes, absolutely. But I think its warranted based on his prior history. Torts is a good coach. But you can’t do what he did. He is the leader. Leaders don’t act like children. I’d have to imagine he’s walking a fine line with his job and any future jobs that open up. Tone it down a bit and he should be OK.

    • cardsandbluesforever - Jan 20, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      Torts can act like a child and embarrass himself all he wants, but he went a few steps over the line on this one. its one thing to be a loudmouth drama queen but the stuff that went on that night was straight up thuggery, not a good example to display for the league.

      This isn’t the 70’s anymore Torts- you cant do that.

      • esracerx46 - Jan 20, 2014 at 11:21 PM

        There is a fine line between embarrassing yourself, and embarrassing the league.

  6. imleftcoast - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    “The League has decided that the reaction to this incident was too negative and it needed a scapegoat. The Canucks are a convenient target for new and novel punishments. For defense of the League’s actions and a diatribe to absolve the referee of all blame, please tune in for the comments to come on the Saturday, January 25th edition of Hockey Night in Canada.”

  7. bigaudiodynamyte - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Torts responded the right way by using his tough guys but his going to the locker room was wrong and he knew it all along. I think the suspension is ridiculous, but this is the new NHL where ridiculous is the norm.

  8. pitpenguinsrulez - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    They should’ve just allowed him in the room…that way the Flames could’ve beat some sense into him.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      He didn’t need to get to the room, all the Flames were in the hallway with him.

      But on the suspension I wasn’t sure it’d be that much, but it was brought up today about George McPhee getting 30 days for when he attacked an opposing team coach.

  9. icelovinbrotha215 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    I think this suspension is more of the ‘set an example’ mantra. I can see why Torts was frustrated but the locker room incident does seem to cross the line.

  10. luuo73 - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Im all for giving John Tortorella 15 days (6 games) suspension, but how in gods name does Patrick Roy not get suspended for almost breaking down the glass partition at the beginning of the year? I dont understand it, they are both embarrassments to the league.

    • sabatimus - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      Seriously, Roy could have hurt someone. And it didn’t look like he cared.

    • hockeydon10 - Jan 21, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      It was Roy’s first NHL game so he had no history of inappropriate behavior. Torts has a history of inappropriate behavior as an NHL coach.

      Plus, if he hadn’t tried to get into the locker room, he probably gets away without even a fine.

      Occam’s Razor and all that.

  11. mshantz22 - Jan 20, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    Torts has always been an arrogant coach, but this time he became a jackass, and was penalized by the league appropriately.

  12. 950003cups - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    Tortorella got shafted on this one.

  13. sabatimus - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    Coaches need to be held to a higher standard than the players. Going into the opposing team area between periods is an absolute no-no. I applaud this.

  14. beermeone - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Watch Vancouver rip off six wins in a row now lol.

  15. 950003cups - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:56 PM


  16. blackandorangeforlife - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Wow…..Torts is the Heatmiser but 15 games for a HC?….Did they consult Rodger Goodell?

    • mshantz22 - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      15 days, not games.

  17. cspsrbums - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    15 days is enough R U kidding. Torts is a clown the dude tried to confront the opposing team in the Locker room. Now it’s not on the ice is in the public.if anything had happened as him throwing punches . he could of and should be locked up. NHL should have giving him 30 days and a last warning if he is to remain in the NHL . why does any organization hire him is beyond me.

  18. President Charles Logan - Jan 20, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    old time hockey is dead , the powers to be squeeze the life and passion out of the game .

  19. pr0jecktpat - Jan 21, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    I don’t see what the big deal is with this suspension length. He has been disiplined in the past, and obviously hasn’t learned from his previous mistakes. His actions were completely uncalled for and he looked like a crazy man stampeding to the other team’s locker room.

  20. amityvillefun - Jan 21, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    I enjoy Torts, but he is a psycho. He’s clearly suffering from “little man syndrome” and is always trying to prove how tough he is.

    One of Flames should have taught him a lesson outside their locker room and knocked some reality into him.

    Torts looks in the mirror everyday and must see a guy that is about 100 pounds heavier and foot taller. Either that, or he harbors a secret wish that he could have been an NHL enforcer instead of being a nutty coach.

  21. kastout11 - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Torts is and has always been a loose cannon, but 15 days is ridiculous.

  22. flash8910 - Jan 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    So it’s now against the rules to play your 4th line in the NHL.

  23. wishingtonredslur - Jan 21, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    Is he going to lose money? I’d rather miss six games than lose 25,000 especially with the Flames record.

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