Raise your hand the last time that you can remember a defenceman and a winger taking the opening faceoff of a hockey game?
To conclude CBC’s annual Hockey Day In Canada television special, the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames were set to square off in a Pacific Division rivalry game. Considering the struggles of both teams recently, in the last ten games the are Canucks 2-5-3 while the Flames are 2-7-1, you’d think that both teams would be set for an intense, hard-fought hockey game with the focus on winning from puck drop to final buzzer.
By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde
At least Calgary was not. Head coach Bob Harley started a line of goons Blair Jones, Ladislav Smid, Kevin Westgarth, Brian McGrattan and Chris Butler. As the visiting head coach, he had to submit his lineup first. Upon seeing his counterparts selection of “idiots“, Vancouver head coach John Tortorella sent out his own line of Tom Sestito, Dale Weise, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, and Kellan Lain – now holder of a great NHL record – instead of some of his more talented players. The result is this:
If you were wondering what over 150 minutes in penalties looked like, then you got awful lucky.
My reaction? As far as the Flames go, I put them at fault. They haven’t started their fourth line in a game all year and to have Hartley start a winger like Westgarth at center is him silently asking his guys to open the game by starting trouble, instead of something like trying to score. It’s a dumb move and painfully familiar in tone to what General Manager Brian Burke wants to see out his teams.
For the Canucks, I don’t really see them in the wrong as far as the on-ice things went. We’ve seen goons jump star players this year (Kessel/Scott, Emery/Holtby) in the NHL and Tortorella shouldn’t risk putting any of his stars out there and risk them being beat on. Nor should he risk his checking line, composed of smaller players like David Booth and Brad Richardson. Putting his own goon line out there is the smart move, even if it is unfortunate. You could start the Sedin’s and hope nothing happens, but if anything does then the Canucks season would be in trouble. So as far as the opening 2 seconds went, I’m letting Torts off.
However, Tortorella must be held accountable for his march on the Flames dressing room after the first period.
I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish. That is not a good look for him and I’d expect his wallet will be lightened significantly this week because of this incident. We could even see the first coach suspension in the NHL in a long time.
It also might be worth noting that Tortorella and Hartley have history with each other from the 2005 season.
It’ll surely be interesting when the two teams play each other again on March 8th. Hockey doesn’t forget grudges.