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Iced Coffey

Tortorella left looking like a fool

Maybe John Tortorella lost it when he realized Bob Hartley had schooled him and made him look like a dope.

Maybe Tortorella just couldn't take Hartley standing on the Calgary bench looking as innocent as lamb. 

Any way you look at it, Hartley won this one, even if the Flames lost the game to the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night.

Icing your fourth line or enforcers to start a game isn't business as usual in the NHL, or Vince McMahon would be the commissioner. But remember, Brian Burke now runs the Flames and he is on record as wanting more truculence, and Hartley should be well versed in giving the boss what he wants by this point. Plus, Hartley is no stranger to having a truculent edge himself.

In the final analysis, the start of Saturday's game would have been met with a shrug by just about everyone if Tortorella hadn't added to the spectacle by going to the end of the bench to give Hartley a piece of his mind. Hartley was obviously not at all interested in owning a piece of his mind.

And when yaking at Hartley didn't work, Tortorella gave all those who love to crap all over hockey more to work with by making a dash to the Calgary dressing room. Talk about spectacle! I'm just glad I wasn't the last Flame off the ice after the first. That poor guy had the worse seat in the house for all the excitement and had to stand around until things finally settled down. 

And you have to give credit to Brian McGrattan, who really could have ratcheted things up when Torts came calling. Pushing him aside made McGrattan the smartest guy in the hallway for the day. As for Clint Malarchuk going looking for Tortorella, cripes let's go make a bad situation worse! 

It will be interesting to see what happens after the NHL hands down the inevitable suspension of Tortorella, and perhaps Hartley for his starting lineup -- remember Ron Rolston was whacked for doing the same thing with the Sabres before he got gassed. Will a memo will be circulated around the league ordering all those TV cameras out of the hallways? 

"I know the other guy across the bench," Tortorella told reporters after the game. "It's easy for people to say, `Well put the Sedins out there and it's deflated.' I can't put our players at risk like that. 

"With the lineup that he had, I'm not going to put those types of players at risk and that's what ensued. I'm not proud of it. I've apologized to every one of the players involved in it. I don't feel great about it at all."

Look, emotions get the best of all of us from time to time, but people in positions of authority are expected to keep their acts together under pressure, guys like air-traffic controllers, soldier, police, firemen, and even hockey coaches. Like it or not, after Tortorella saw who was starting for the Flames, he made a decision to put muscle against muscle and we saw the inevitable line brawl. The officials got things under control, penalties were assessed, and live goes on. Like it or not, this wasn't the first time we've seen this in a game and it won't be the last.

Hartley's postgame comments were hilarious. If you put the enforcers in the starting lineup, you know what you're doing. Your boss wants a tougher team, so again, you know what you're doing, but Hartley's "surprise" was a laugh riot.

 "I just don't understand," Hartley told reporters, sounding like the little girl with the curl. "I got out of there. I don't need to get suspended or fined. ... I just don't understand what was going on. 

"As far as I know they were the home team. They had the luxury to put whoever they wanted on the ice."

Very true. But Tortorella opted to escalate a bad situation and now he will pay the price.

"I'm not speaking on it. I'm not going to go there," Tortorella told the CBC's Elliotte Friedman.

That's OK, we saw plenty. In fact, we saw too much.

Filed in: | Iced Coffey | Permalink
  Tags: john+tortorella


Alan's avatar

I’m no Torts fan, but the only thing he lost was his damn mind when he walked to the Calgary locker room.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/19/14 at 10:06 PM ET

Chet's avatar

this post is retarded. i can’t stand torts but what’s he supposed to do? it’s van’s building btw.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/19/14 at 10:34 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

i can’t stand torts but what’s he supposed to do?

Ice the line he wants to, accept the risk of a possible line brawl, and move on with the game.  Note:that doesn’t include yelling at the opposite coach from the bench,  then proceed to FREAKING GO INTO THE TUNNEL OF THE OPPOSING TEAM BECAUSE HOLY CRAP THAT IS FREAKING OBNOXIOUS.

Torts can’t control his emotions, and its fun to watch when he isn’t your coach.  I couldn’t stand being a Canucks fan/Tort’s wife.

Posted by TreKronor on 01/19/14 at 11:17 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Ice the line he wants to, accept the risk of a possible line brawl, and move on with the game

There aren’t many coaches in the league that will start their top liners to match up against a goon line. No, he matched up his own fourth liners against a line that he knew was going to start shit, and you see the end result.

It would have been a lot worse if he had put the Sedins out there, and I would expect anyone to know that. We all watched how it happened. Puck dropped, all the Flames jump up and start going at it. It was obvious to everyone from the outset what Hartley had planned. Especially anyone ho actually bothered to watch Hartley coach over the years.

I don’t disagree that Torts was a moron for trying to confront them face to face, but you are a fool if you think this could have been avoided by a different choice of starting line.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/20/14 at 12:54 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 01/19/14 at 11:54 PM ET

Well, I’m not by any means saying I thought things would have been better by having the Canucks first or second line out there.  That would just be speculation.

I’m saying he needs to roll with the punches, and coach a game.  The whole leaning over the bench yelling at Calgary and then proceeding to go near the opposite locker room is over the line.

Posted by TreKronor on 01/20/14 at 02:01 AM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Posted by TreKronor on 01/20/14 at 01:01 AM ET

That’s it exactly.

Is he a professional, tasked with acting professionally, or a petulant 6 year old who needs a time out?

It’s honestly looking more and more like the latter.

Posted by RedMenace from A Tormented Hellscape on 01/20/14 at 03:47 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

The whole leaning over the bench yelling

Didn’t bother me when Scotty was getting up in Mark Crawfords face years ago & Torts yelling at Hartley on the bench is no biggie… Torts heading down the tunnel is just plain dumb though.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 01/20/14 at 12:00 PM ET

Canucklehead's avatar

I keep wondering if Hartley was sending his own message to the Canucks.  We all know how stupidly thuggish the Canucks have been playing lately.  Especially against the Kings and Ducks.

I think the Hartley put his goons out to say “You know what?  You wanna fight?  Let’s go.  We’ll be punching back, unlike your last opponents.”

I don’t have a huge problem with the brawl (it’s stupid, but it’s really not that unusual), but Torts having to be restrained (Malarchuk too) is ridiculous.  Stay in your own dressing room.  Nothing good will come of trying to fight your way into your opposition’s dressing room.

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 01/20/14 at 12:04 PM ET

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About Iced Coffey

Phil Coffey has covered the NHL since 1981, most recently as the Senior Editorial Director of NHL.com. He spent over 11 years there.