It didn’t take long for last night’s Hockey Night In Canada finale between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks to transform into an old school hockey brawl. Flames head coach Bob Hartley chose his toughest, most pugilistic players as his starting lineup, and Canucks head coach John Tortorella followed suit. Thus, with ten willing scrappers on the ice to begin last night’s throwback, trouble was inevitable, evident by the pre-opening face-off chatter between players.
Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa – who was locked in conversation with Flames forward Kevin Westgarth – found himself in the face-off circle at centre ice. The puck was dropped, and ignored. Bieksa and Westgarth embraced in a violent dance, as the other eight men on the ice united with suitable counterparts, and five fights occurred simultaneously. It was very old school.
Canucks head coach was not thrilled with Hartley’s starting lineup, a displeasure he made obvious by furiously yelling over at the Flames bench while players on both benches chirped back and forth.
In the game’s first intermission, John Tortorella’s anger toward his opponents revealed itself in a hallway altercation outside the Calgary Flames dressing room. Torts, and a couple of his players (Alex Burrows and Chris Tanev) approached the Flames room yelling and screaming, earning a starring role in this instant YouTube classic. No punches were thrown, mainly in thanks to the preventative measures of on-ice tough guy Chris McGrattan, who served as off-ice referee. There’s a time and place, I guess.
Fighting in the NHL has been the topic of controversy since opening night, when the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs were involved in an incident that resulted in Habs enforcer George Parros leaving the ice on a stretcher. The events of last night only further highlight hockey’s violent side.
There is a general consensus that the coaches involved in the Flames and Canucks brawl should be penalized for the selection of their starting lineups. Clearly, to ice all those fighters at puck drop was an invitation and acceptance for violence.
In total, 188 minutes in penalties were awarded in the first period alone.
Canucks head coach John Tortorella said the following after the game:
“I know the other guy across the bench. 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.
There will probably be disciplinary action taken against the Flames head coach Bob Hartley, and Canucks head coach John Tortorella, or at least that is the vibe on Twitter.