By John Vogl
After being an “embarrassment to the league,” John Tortorella will have more than two weeks to think about his actions.
The NHL suspended Vancouver’s coach for 15 days without pay tonight for his part in a chaotic meeting with Calgary. The former Sabres assistant and Rochester head coach confronted the Flames at their dressing room during the first intermission Saturday. He was incensed after Calgary coach Bob Hartley loaded the starting lineup with tough guys, which resulted in a 10-player brawl as soon as the puck dropped.
“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 Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice president of hockey operations. "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, who will miss six games, is not allowed to have any interaction with the Canucks prior to, during or after the games.
The NHL fined Hartley $25,000.
“We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game's opening faceoff and attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent – the Canucks' Kevin Bieksa,” Campbell said.
After seeing the lineup of the visiting Flames, Tortorella started his tough guys.
“It's easy for people to say put the Sedins out there and it's deflated," Tortorella said Saturday, referring to star players Daniel and Henrik Sedin. "I can't put our players at risk that way. With the lineup he had, I am not going to put those type of players at risk, and that's what ensues.
“I'm not proud of it. I have apologized to every one of the players involved in it. I don't feel great about it at all.”
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said today he wouldn’t have countered Hartley’s moves.
“I think in 1964 maybe you respond a certain way,” Nolan said. “Now we’re trying to sell this game, and you don’t sell it like that. … We’re in the hockey business, not in the fighting business.”