PLAYER SELECTION

Brian Sutherby
January 20 2014 08:55AM

During and after the fireworks in Vancouver on Saturday night, many people wanted to get on Canucks head coach John Tortorella for being so mad. Claiming that if he didn’t want or expect that to happen, he should have put out a more skilled line.

I disagree.

He shouldn't have made his way to the Calgary Flames dressing room but that doesnt mean he can't be upset about the start to the game.

MCGRATTAN & WESTGARTH

Yes, every once in a while a team starts their fourth line and it doesn’t always result in a line brawl but Torterella couldn’t risk putting his skill guys out there. I don’t think if they countered Calgary’s fourth line with the Sedin line, the twins would have gotten mauled but how do you really know?

You don’t start that line with Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth, two of the toughest in the game, without the intention of a big physical start. Whether it’s running around to set a physical tone or actually fighting someone.

It’s hard to know what was said between Westgarth who was playing center for some reason and Kevin Bieksa but it sure looked like Westgarth was more than ready to do something dumb and it didn’t matter who was taking the draw. Westgarth did immediately jump an unwilling guy and then grabbed Kellen Lain and made him fight 2 seconds into his first NHL game.

If things were different and a skilled Canuck player was injured or beat up badly because they didn’t respond with the right line, who is everyone blaming today?

The head coach of course.

It happened to Randy Carlyle in pre-season this year, when he put out Phil Kessel with John Scott. His best player was put in a bad spot because he didn’t expect it to happen. “I never believed in my wildest dreams that the attack would come directed at that type of player from the opposition, but I was wrong.” He said.

BOB HARTLEY

A very memorable game I was playing in 2006 had a similar situation as far as player selection. The game was in Washington versus the Atlanta Thrashers who were coached at that time by none other than Bob Hartley.  His teams were always pretty tough and we had some good battles with them.

It was late in the game and six foot five Andy Sutton took a big run at one of our young defenseman Mike Green. This wasn’t a little run; this was a take your head off and hurt you type run. The third or fourth time he had done this late in a hockey game against us. Green thankfully avoided it, but the intent was absolutely there to hurt someone once again.

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.

WRONG MOVE

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.

Now this incident in 2006 happened at the end of an extremely heated game with rules in place to prevent instigating and shenanigans in the last 5 minutes so perhaps there was a sense of protection the Thrashers bench felt?

Either way, the end result was players that shouldn’t have been out there for Atlanta were and Hartley made a huge mistake. Andy Sutton and Bob Hartley have to feel terrible for getting their guys pummelled.

COACHING CALL

The situation in the Flames-Canucks game was different. There wasn’t a heated incident immediately before, but as a coach I don’t think you can take that chance, especially if you have last change.

Torterella is vilified more today if Daniel Sedin is mugged or their team is completely taken advantage of.  He protected his team, which is what a coach is supposed to do. He had no choice but to put out a comparable line of grit and toughness. That doesn’t mean he has to be happy with what unfolded next.

No one knows what might have happened had Tortorella put out a skilled line. This game is unpredictable and rules don’t often matter in the heat of the moment. Assuming nothing, could have been very costly for him, more than the fine or suspension he will likely receive and deserve for his intermission antics. He could have lost his best players or that dressing room.

Has Bob Hartley ever tried to diffuse a situation again, when put in Tortorella's spot?

I doubt it. 

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#1 billythebullet
January 20 2014, 09:01AM
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Not sure what hartleys intents were but I for one think that this may have been the years most entertaining hockey game.

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#2 RexLibris
January 20 2014, 09:08AM
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Tortorella made a mistake in going to the Flames dressing room in the intermission and for that he should be suspended.

I have no love for him or the Canucks organization, but you are absolutely right that he is going to be vilified for this when Hartley shares responsibility.

Hartley's lineup to start the game was clearly meant to incite and he, and the Flames, deserve to be called out by the league for this as well.

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#3 vetinari
January 20 2014, 09:10AM
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What I can't understand is why Torts got so mad-- he had last change and elected to go with his toughies... fine... just don't bark at the other side because you accepted the challenge.

If Torts wanted to throw the Sedin line on the ice instead, he could have called over one of the refs before the faceoff, told them of his concerns and his expectations that if the Flames guys try to jump his guys, his guys were unwilling combatants and he'd hold the ref's responsible for player safety. I presume that the refs would have then skated over to the Flames bench and had a little conversation with Hartley about what would happen if his guys tried something (ejections for all of them, including the coach).

Clearly, Torts was out of line trying to go after Hartley and the Flames in their dressing room. What would have happened if Torts disappeared into their dressing room and the door closed behind him? He would have got the beat down of his life. Stupid. Suspend him for at least one game to send a message.

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#4 vetinari
January 20 2014, 09:10AM
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oops, double post. stupid lag.

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#5 camdog
January 20 2014, 09:13AM
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Hartley got called out by Burke for the team not playing tough enough. Burke still has a bad vibe with Canucks since he left the organization.

I know we in Edmonton like to pretend that the president of hockey operations doesn't effect day to day operations of the team, I on the other hand disagree.

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#6 acg5151
January 20 2014, 09:13AM
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Torts shouldn't have gone to the dressing room but he was pissed off and I might have made the same mistake as a coach.

Icing the fourth line with his toughest defensemen, however?

Not a mistake.

I for sure would have done the same thing - especially with the Kessel/Scott incident fresh in my mind. Believe it or not, this game is still violent people!

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#7 Czar
January 20 2014, 09:14AM
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Of all the teams that need a beatdown it's the Canucks! The only time I'll EVER cheer for Calgary is when they play Vancouver.

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#9 Wonger
January 20 2014, 09:32AM
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Czar wrote:

Of all the teams that need a beatdown it's the Canucks! The only time I'll EVER cheer for Calgary is when they play Vancouver.

Time for the Oilers to trade for BIG JOHN SCOTT if they want to compete in the Wild West. BIG JOHN SCOTT would neutralize the Flames and the CANUCKLEHEADS by himself!

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#10 Hat Pughes
January 20 2014, 09:35AM
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Off topic but on the same situation. I don't get why Everyone (Cherry PJStock VanMedia)was so high on commending Bieksa for his leadership in the situation in protecting the rookie Lain.

Are you freaking kidding me???!!!???

Bieksa heroes up to take the draw.Then when the puck is dropped he refuses to engage with Westgarth. Instead, Bieksa beelines it to Smid and decides that who he wants to fight. Guess who Lain partners up with anyways without "Big Bro Bieksa" lookin out for him -- Yup Westgarth.

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#11 China town man
January 20 2014, 09:35AM
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As a fan of the oilers! I ask that Calgary please don't hurt our players when we play against your team we are small and fragile just making good money skating in circles for 40min the other 20min is to embrace what a difficult life they have. And I also asked that Vancouver when we play against your team can you ask your coach to not scream and yell!!! Because our coach is the the weak and quiet type.

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#12 SmellOfVictory
January 20 2014, 09:39AM
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This is something I don't understand: what is the requirement for "protection"? If one guy tries to fight another guy and second guy refuses, the refs will prevent a fight and instigator will get a penalty.

It's not like either Westgarth or McGrattan are good enough hockey players to be able to hurt people while playing; all they can do is punch dudes if the other dudes agree to fight them. I could see an issue if it was lining the Sedins up against a line of Lucics, but it's not even close to that.

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#13 mk
January 20 2014, 09:39AM
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What I don't get is the sudden change in attitude from everyone. I definitely don't like having Westgarth and McGrattan playing as much as they do, nor do I think teams need a "tough-guy" line.

However:

whenever a team's top line scores against another team's 4th line, EVERYONE congratulates the scoring-team's coach for getting line-up match that dramatically favours his team.

If Torts were smart, he'd start Burrows-Kesler-Booth (or someone) as the forwards. Burrows and Kesler actively practice running away from fights and the line is skilled enough to scare Hartley into changing his forwards PDQ when the puck is dropped. Stupid lineup by Hartley, stupid response by Tortorella.

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#14 piscera.infada
January 20 2014, 09:41AM
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Hat Pughes wrote:

Off topic but on the same situation. I don't get why Everyone (Cherry PJStock VanMedia)was so high on commending Bieksa for his leadership in the situation in protecting the rookie Lain.

Are you freaking kidding me???!!!???

Bieksa heroes up to take the draw.Then when the puck is dropped he refuses to engage with Westgarth. Instead, Bieksa beelines it to Smid and decides that who he wants to fight. Guess who Lain partners up with anyways without "Big Bro Bieksa" lookin out for him -- Yup Westgarth.

I thought the exact same thing.

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#15 Czar
January 20 2014, 09:42AM
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How many times have we seen Torts go off in a press conference or game in the past few years? The guys a tool who does more harm to the hockey with his BS and tirades than any fight, staged or otherwise has. I'd like to see him get 3-5 games but a good beating in the hallway would have been even better.

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#16 mk
January 20 2014, 09:44AM
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Czar wrote:

How many times have we seen Torts go off in a press conference or game in the past few years? The guys a tool who does more harm to the hockey with his BS and tirades than any fight, staged or otherwise has. I'd like to see him get 3-5 games but a good beating in the hallway would have been even better.

Plus, we have lingering hatred from 2004. Am I right?

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#17 Jamie E
January 20 2014, 09:46AM
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Wonger wrote:

Time for the Oilers to trade for BIG JOHN SCOTT if they want to compete in the Wild West. BIG JOHN SCOTT would neutralize the Flames and the CANUCKLEHEADS by himself!

As a Canucks fan I completely agree. Eberle and a pick should do it.

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#18 Czar
January 20 2014, 09:49AM
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Wonger wrote:

Time for the Oilers to trade for BIG JOHN SCOTT if they want to compete in the Wild West. BIG JOHN SCOTT would neutralize the Flames and the CANUCKLEHEADS by himself!

Your sure consistent with the BIG JOHN SCOTT posts dude, are you his agent or brother?

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#19 Oliveoiler
January 20 2014, 09:55AM
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@China town man

OMG .... TOO funny. Hubby and I laughed till we cried. LOVE IT!!!!! Thanks for making our day!

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#20 Westcoastoil
January 20 2014, 09:56AM
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China town man wrote:

As a fan of the oilers! I ask that Calgary please don't hurt our players when we play against your team we are small and fragile just making good money skating in circles for 40min the other 20min is to embrace what a difficult life they have. And I also asked that Vancouver when we play against your team can you ask your coach to not scream and yell!!! Because our coach is the the weak and quiet type.

I wonder if Hartley goes for physical intimidation the next time the Flames play the Oilers - if he starts with Stajan, Backlund and Cammelari we'll know he's doing it again.

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#21 Jay
January 20 2014, 09:58AM
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It's nice to have an article written about an NHL game on this site. Too bad it was between van&cal. Maybe next decade the oilers will have one

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#22 Fish
January 20 2014, 10:00AM
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Disagree Brian. Coaches fight all game to get a match up like knuckle drag-er 4th line vs your top line. If you get that during a game, you take it, and you don't worry osmething stupid will happen. You wanna make the Flames look bad, score a goal 21 seconds into the game. The 4th line looks terrible, the coach looks even dumber, and you're winning. Yes, it's just a regular season game against a team they probably beat anyways, but I think the odds of the Flames trying anything against the Sedins are pretty low. If im Torts, I play the Sedins, and let it be know to MY ENTIRE TEAM to be ready off the faceoff. IF something happens and they DO try something crazy, then every man jumps off the bench like lightening and 21 guys pound those 5 idiots for 5 seconds before the rest of the Flames bench clears and then the real fireworks begin. If there is a dog pile on a few of these guys you can even get a couple "accidental kicks" in for pay back.

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#23 pkam
January 20 2014, 10:00AM
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Didn't Torts do the same in Mar 19th 2012 when they visited the Devils?

Didn't he send his tough guys out in the first shift and start a line brawl when Deboer responded by sending his tough guys out.

So if Torts could send out his tough guy out in the first shift, why can't Bob Hartley?

Funny it was also Torts that yelled at Deboer. So he yelled at Deboer for responding to his challenge, and now he yelled at Hartley for starting it? So it is okay if he does it but not for anyone else?

what an embarrassment to the league. Hope the league not just fine him, but suspend him for a long time.

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#24 Czar
January 20 2014, 10:09AM
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mk wrote:

Plus, we have lingering hatred from 2004. Am I right?

I had no problem with Calgary losing in 2004,in fact I enjoyed it. I just wish it would have happened in 1989 as well.

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#25 SeanCharles
January 20 2014, 10:10AM
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Coaches have started their 4th lines in games before...

This is not a foriegn concept.

Torterella could have started his 2nd line and wouldnt have to worry about the Sedins being out there or a scrappy line..

There is no rules against who you start in a game.

Torterella made a mistake by going to our dressing room and got what he should have expected by throwing his 4th line out to match.

I dont mind Torterella as much as most but he screwed up because he's a hot head and let his emotions get the best of him.

That was a great game, I love when this stuff happens.

Truculent it up! I miss when teams feared coming here because they knew Iggy, Regehr and Phaneuf would hit and fight anyone.

Size and grittiness does create offensive chances because you own the boards and cycle the puck around by winning battles. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as the players can also play.

This is what people fail to see in Burkes vision. He doesn't want a team of 4th liners. He want guys who can fight and skate on the 4th line. Guys who can skate and hit and have skill on the 3rd line and a mix of high end skill and grit in the top 6.

Players like Baertschi and Gaudreau have spots on the team, if they continue to improve... But they will be surrounded by players who have a physical presence which is what I miss out of the Flames lately.

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#26 Terry
January 20 2014, 10:21AM
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Good read.

I've never respected Hartley as a coach going back to his days in Denver. He was and still a goon coach who liked his players sending messages when games were pretty much decided.

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#27 piscera.infada
January 20 2014, 10:25AM
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@pkam

I really hope that wasn't a typo, and we're now calling him Bob "The Bod" Hartley.

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#28 elvis15
January 20 2014, 10:28AM
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@mk

Here's the problem with that: all it takes is for one guy to get grabbed by a goon and the rest of his linemates will have to come help. It's easier said than done to maintain possession of the puck and stay away from getting punched.

The other important point is Henrik Sedin was questionable to even play and left later due to injury so Torts couldn't start them and risk even getting Henrik hit by a 4th liner. Starting the Kesler line and having this kind of result plus having Henrik unable to play the full game would leave the Canucks with basically only the 3rd and 4th lines for the rest of the game - not a good idea if you actually want to win the game since the Canucks need the points to stay in the playoff hunt.

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#29 pkam
January 20 2014, 10:30AM
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piscera.infada wrote:

I really hope that wasn't a typo, and we're now calling him Bob "The Bod" Hartley.

Sorry, that is a typo. But I guess everyone knows who I referring to.

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#30 Spydyr
January 20 2014, 10:35AM
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How many decades has it been since the Oilers could put out a line of tough skilled players?

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#31 piscera.infada
January 20 2014, 10:36AM
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@SeanCharles

"...But they will be surrounded by players who have a physical presence which is what I miss out of the Flames lately.

Exactly. The reason I take little to no issue with everything that went on to start the game was the fact that the Flames didn't get completely outclassed by a team that is (admittedly) far more skilled and for all intents and purposes, should be outclassing them nine time out of ten. The beginning of the game likely changed the way that game was played. It was intense, and I loved it.

My biggest problem with the Flames play of late is that there's simply no push-back at all - player runs Ramo/Berra, all good, continue on. The only thing worse than having to watch your team get outskilled by a better team (on a nightly basis), is having to watch a little dweeb like Burrows skate around flapping his jibs while it happens.

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#32 elvis15
January 20 2014, 10:37AM
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@pkam

The Devils were the visiting team, not the Rangers, in that game and it was DeBoer that choose to ice his goons first.

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#33 Kodiak
January 20 2014, 10:44AM
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Totally disagree, Brian. All of the "incidents" you referred to were late in the game, score out of hand situations. I don't think there is any history of something like that happening on the opening faceoff. The chances of something like Westgarth mugging Sedin then were 1 in a million.

If those concerns were real, if the Flames 4th line iced the puck the Canucks would never throw their top line on then but we know they'd be licking their chops to get them out there in that matchup.

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#34 He Who Knows
January 20 2014, 10:46AM
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Seriously when will Burkie scrap with Lowe? Oil Country would thank Burke.

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#35 pkam
January 20 2014, 10:47AM
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elvis15 wrote:

The Devils were the visiting team, not the Rangers, in that game and it was DeBoer that choose to ice his goons first.

Go to NHL.com and look it up yourself.

Mar 19, 2013, Rangers at New Jersey.

If you don't know how, go to NHL.com, choose Schedule|By Season, then select 2012-13, Regular Season, Rangers, and Away games. Then scroll down and you will see Rangers vs Devils on Mar 19, 2013.

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#36 kesselkadri
January 20 2014, 10:53AM
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This is why skilled tough guys like Lucic, Clarkson and Phaneuf are important to successful hockey teams. Even Kadri is pretty tough and gritty and can throw down a fight.

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#37 wineeditor
January 20 2014, 11:03AM
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There is nothing wrong with icing the line up you want (both Calgary and Vancouver).

There is nothing wrong with challenging someone to a fight at a face off and if BOTH agree there is nothing wrong with the ensuing fight.

There is nothing wrong with extracting retribution on an opponent at the faceoff for a previous cheap shot (whether or not the cheap shot artist wants to fight or not). I wish our tough guys did more of this.

What was wrong as sending Westgarth out to center ice with seeminly the sole purpose to start a fight right off the get go with an unwilling participant. (This assumes that Westgarth would have tried to start something with the rookie originally slated to take the face off which I suspect would have been the case.)

Not knowing who Torts would have put on the ice it is clear to me that Westgarth wasn't out to extract retribution for a previous cheap shot.

If Westgarth hadn't started the fight and McGratten or Jones found a WILLING partner I would have had no problem with the fight but Westgarth immediately dropping the gloves on an unwilling participant was wrong.

I like Hartley but if he gave orders to Westgarth he should be fined. I suspect that may have been the case. If that was the case Hartley was wrong and Westgarth was wrong although being in Westgarths position I don't see that he had any alternative and suspect he was pumped as well because he finally was able to contribute to a game in the manner his coach wanted.

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#38 Wonger
January 20 2014, 11:09AM
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Czar wrote:

Your sure consistent with the BIG JOHN SCOTT posts dude, are you his agent or brother?

Brother? I am 5'6" 245lbs and have more chins than a Vancouver phone book! I am just an die hard life long Oiler fan!

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#39 yomamen11
January 20 2014, 11:09AM
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@Hat Pughes

Amen bro! Bieksa is a pile of trash

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#40 elvis15
January 20 2014, 11:12AM
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@SeanCharles

"Truculent it up! I miss when teams feared coming here because they knew Iggy, Regehr and Phaneuf would hit and fight anyone."

Canucks have players like that too, in Kesler, Bieksa and Kassian, but you mentioning Phaneuf with the Flames reminded me immediately of that gif of Phaneuf falling when turning to fight Ruutu.

http://www.trevorpresiloski.com/wp-content/gallery/content/oh-phaneuf.gif

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#41 elvis15
January 20 2014, 11:21AM
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pkam wrote:

Go to NHL.com and look it up yourself.

Mar 19, 2013, Rangers at New Jersey.

If you don't know how, go to NHL.com, choose Schedule|By Season, then select 2012-13, Regular Season, Rangers, and Away games. Then scroll down and you will see Rangers vs Devils on Mar 19, 2013.

I already did look it up and it was March 19, 2012 - not 2013: http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyseason.htm?season=20112012&gameType=2&team=NYR&network=&venue=home

Here's an article to back it up: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/devils-vs-rangers-bloody-brawl-off-opening-faceoff-002254198.html

"But what a way to start their nationally televised rivalry game on Monday night than with a brawl off the opening faceoff. The Devils, the visiting team, wanted to send a message by putting out their toughest (and least played) line right off the start. The Rangers countered with two of their toughest forwards and a defenseman who moved up to take the opening draw. Six players agreed to fight to set the tone, and away we went..."

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#42 ThatGuy
January 20 2014, 11:22AM
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@pkam:

Wrong year. It happened in New York:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIlLbJHKw8M

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#43 ryan
January 20 2014, 11:25AM
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At least we don't have to worry about this stuff in edmonton. Look at the response we had when cooke ran yakapov..........

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#44 The Dude
January 20 2014, 11:35AM
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I was at the NYR-NJ game at MSG in 2012. It was an awful game in the end except for the opening face off. It was clearly staged and the fights were duds. It didn't set the tone at all. I them got really really pissed and offended a Spanish tourist sitting next to me. What kind of Spanish guy has a shaggy red beard?!?

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#46 chillout
January 20 2014, 11:43AM
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@ThatGuy

Dec. 20, 2011 Rangers vs. Devils. Torts being away started his 4th line and devils responded with the same. no line brawl but still Torts never accepts the blame for anything.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy5iX4eCj_k

then later devils did it right back to them.

Then devils coach DeBoer

“I guess in John’s world you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can’t do the same in here,” DeBoer said. “He’s either got short-term memory loss or he’s a hypocrite. So it’s one of the other.”

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#47 Cynic
January 20 2014, 11:47AM
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Torterella is vilified more today if Daniel Sedin is mugged or their team is completely taken advantage of. He protected his team, which is what a coach is supposed to do. He had no choice but to put out a comparable line of grit and toughness.

Well said, Brian. I also agree that Fonzie's between-period act deserves a suspension.

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#49 cam
January 20 2014, 11:56AM
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Bob Hartley sent out his 4th line, a line made up of players that had combined for 3 goals in 76 games this season, to start the game – the first time in 49 games this season he had done so. He sent out a player that had previously only taken 2 faceoffs all season to win the opening faceoff and to, apparently, score a goal. I think we all know why Hartley put those guys on the ice and it wasn't to create offence.

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#50 Wonger
January 20 2014, 12:03PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Czar wrote:

How many times have we seen Torts go off in a press conference or game in the past few years? The guys a tool who does more harm to the hockey with his BS and tirades than any fight, staged or otherwise has. I'd like to see him get 3-5 games but a good beating in the hallway would have been even better.

It would have been HILARIOUS to see one of my faves, MCGRATS, demolish torts with a flurry of overhand rights!!!

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