Just a few minutes before the puck was set to drop on Saturday night’s game between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, I (and all of the other media members here on press row), received a piece of paper from a Rogers Arena employee. This piece of paper included the lineups we’d see in action tonight, and all of the scratches.
More prevalently, though, it also included a list of the 5 players each team would ice for the opening faceoff. As soon as we received it, everyone saw the writing on the wall..
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) January 19, 2014
Two seconds in, our collective assumption was proven correct; a full-out line brawl broke out.
Here’s the video in case you missed it the mayhem:
After exchanging some words with Kevin Westgarth before the puck was dropped, Kevin Bieksa moved in to take the faceoff himself. We’d seen something like this before from a John Tortorella-led group:
After all the dust had settled, the Canucks had actually earned themselves a power play opportunity (which they failed to score on). The crowd in the building definitely enjoyed the festivities, but I should also point out that nearly half of the lower bowl was missing (you picked the wrong night to be fashionably late, Vancouver!). On my Twitter timeline, the feelings were split down the middle. Some people loved it, some people hated it.
However it winds up playing out, we can all agree that it was quite the scene, and there’s no denying that. I personally know that I won’t be forgetting it any time soon for better or for worse. I’m not sure how I feel about it, though. My first instinct is that it was a total sideshow, but after having sat through some miserably boring Canucks games last season, I guess this is a better alternative?
And for the record my biggest beef is with Bob Hartley and the Flames. They sent out their goon squad to start the game, and obviously had bad intentions. All John Tortorella did was stick up for his team, which I have no issue with. I wasn’t able to hear what PJ Stock and the rest of CBC’s HNiC roundtable was saying, but from what I’ve gathered they were on Tortorella’s case.. which I don’t get? What was he supposed to do there?
On a ‘trying to win hockey games’ front, it was a pretty dumb move by the Canucks:
Refs with gutless move, tossing eight. Canucks playing fourth game in six nights and will do it without bieksa/Garrison
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 19, 2014
Expect to see a ton of Hamhuis and Tanev, you guys. Even moreso than usual which is saying something. Now, the Calgary Flames aren’t very good at hockey so they’ll probably get able to get away with it.
One little subplot that may be missed is that this was Kellan Lain’s NHL debut, and it only lasted 2 seconds. He’s a fringe NHLer at best right now, and if Zac Dalpe draws back into the lineup, then Lain probably goes back to Utica. I don’t think that’s the way he envisioned his first NHL experience going down.
Anyways, I’m kind of curious to hear what your individual thoughts on the incident were. I’ve seen arguments on Twitter that this was the result of a frustrated team, that couldn’t contain themselves. I agree with this to an extent. I buy the frustration, but I think what we saw was a team that’s slowly coming to grips with the realization that it’s not as good as it once was right now. Sometimes you look in the mirror, and don’t like what you see..
After what happened last time, I’m not sure the Canucks can handle any more moral victories.