I love the internet so very much. [GIF via @IAmByks]
"OK, do we start shishkebabing John Tortorella right now, or.." were the wise words HNiC *analyst*, kickstarting his temper tantrum directed at the coach following his actions during the 1st intermission of Saturday night’s Fight Club.
Well, shishkebab away did Colin Campbell – note that it wasn’t Brendan Shanahan, who’s only responsible for player transgressions – when he dropped the hammer on the Canucks bench boss, suspending him for 15 days (essentially 6 games) without pay [maybe now he’ll have some time to come meet some fans and have a few rounds at The Pint on the 29th, perhaps?]
That means that we won’t be seeing him until February 3rd, when the Canucks embark on a 4-game Eastern Conference trip before heading into the Olympic break. By the sounds of it, assistant coaches Mike Sullivan – who spoke to the media in Tortorella’s stead this afternoon – and Glen Gulutzan (*gulp*) will handle the job in the meantime.
Image via @mhenderson95
I don’t really have confidence in Glen Gulutzan to handle my lunch order, let alone run a team. Luckily for the Canucks, though, this upcoming stretch in the schedule is probably the easiest one of the year. They’ll play the Oilers twice, the Predators, the Coyotes (at home), and the Blackhawks. In theory they should show up to the arena on the night of the game and win at least 2-3 of those, but then again they did just barely squeek out a shootout victory against the Flames, so I guess nothing is a given at this point.
As for my thoughts on the suspension itself.. I don’t really have a strong take on this, since there’s so little precedent for something of this ilk. As Elliotte Friedman noted, the league fined George McPhee $20k and suspended him for a month back in ’99 for punching an opposing coach after a game. That was obviously an extreme example.
Closer to Tortorella’s transgression was the Shane Corson case back in ’99, when he tried to get into Vancouver’s dressing room in an attempt to get to Ed Jovanovski (following some disparaging comments by JovoCop). Corson received 5 games for that incident.
As for Tortorella himself, this is the 2nd time he has been suspended in his coaching career. The first was back in ’09, when he threw a water bottle at a fan in the crowd. He has done a great job – true to his word from the preseason – of containing himself, not taking the bait and getting riled up. I think that everyone figured it was just a matter of time before he finally snapped, and it appears that everything lined up perfectly for that to happen on Saturday night.
Anyways, I’m sure Vancouver fans won’t like the ruling, seeing it as a something of a slight against the team they love. I guess I’m kind of OK with it, all things considered. For the record I was fine with Tortorella sending the guys he sent out to follow Hartley’s lead, for reasons that have already been discovered in depth.
Cam Charron and I spent a good 10-15 discussing it in exhausting detail on today’s podcast. The fact that Bob Hartley was only fined $25k (how much of that will he actually pay, even?) is kind of a joke given how bush league his actions were, but it was also something that I was expecting.
But the bottom line is that you simply can’t be doing what he did when he attempted to go into Calgary’s room, going all King Leonidas on the Flames. He had reason to be angry, but ultimately he handled himself poorly, letting his emotions get the best of him. It’s not a good look for the league, which is why I understand the ruling.
Now he has to pay the piper.. #FreeTorts
Some further reading:
An Elliotte Friedman-level of work by Elliotte Friedman here, as he looks at the situation from Tortorella’s perspective, to Hartley’s, all the way around to Brian Burke’s role in the matter. The money shot:
"I didn’t get a chance to talk to anyone about it last night, but there is no doubt Vancouver feels it gets officiated much more harshly since the Alex Burrows/Stephane Auger incident in 2010. I look at it another way: sometimes, I think teams get penalized when they play "differently" than expected.
Basically, every team has its identity and some of them are edgy. Some aren’t. The Canucks, right or wrongly, don’t have an "edgy" reputation as a group. So, when things happen (like Sestito on Jordan Nolan), it stands out. If Sestito played for Detroit, it would look weird, too.
Anyway, I’m betting your house that Tortorella HATES this… and is going to try and change it. The Canucks are in a kind of transition anyways, with some good young prospects ready to force their way into the lineup as soon as next season.
Our friend Brian Sutherby speaks from first-hand experience about the concept of "player selection", sharing a story about a dust-up between Washington and Atlanta back in ’06 (involving none other than Bob Hartley himself..):
"After the hit, a small melee ensued. This left each team playing 3 on 3. Our bench was irate. Many four letter words were exchanged before the next faceoff. What happened next is, Hartley either misread the situation or he intended to diffuse it with the players he put out. We were at home and had last change.
Hartley sent out Greg DeVries, Vitaly Vishnevskiy and Marian Hossa of all guys. Our head coach Glen Hanlon answered with Donald Brashear, John Erskine and Matt Bradley. Everyone knew what was going to happen whether you like it or not. We were not going to be pushed around again. Brashear beat the snot out of Vishnevskiy, Erskine gave Hossa a rough ride and DeVries and Bradley paired off."
The dudes over at Pass it to Bulis share their thoughts on the absurdity of everything that went down on Saturday night, with a whole lot of reminders that KEVIN BIEKSA WON THE FACEOFF. Also, a hilarious bit on Alex Burrows’ chirps towards former Canuck great Shane O’Brien: