Free Torts T-shirts draw Canucks' wrath
Team reportedly tells T-shirt sellers to cease and desist or face NHL lawsuit
Two Vancouver men, who entered the T-shirt business when Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella was handed a 15-day suspension, have been ordered to shut down the business by the team's staff, they say.
Construction worker Trevan Lepage, 29, launched the website FreeTorts.com with web developer Dan Skology to sell T-shirts showing a screaming Tortorella and the words "Free Torts."
The Canucks coach was suspended from having any contact with the team for 15 days after he tried to enter the dressing room of the Calgary Flames after a fight broke out in the opening seconds of a game on Saturday.
The T-shirt sellers say they have sold about 100 shirts to customers from as far as New Brunswick and the Southern United States.
But Lepage says on Thursday he got a call from a Canucks spokesperson demanding the website be removed.
"He told us that if we didn't take the website down and stop selling immediately he would escalate it to the NHL, and the NHL had a lot of people who would like nothing more than to make an example of us, who would in turn sue us," said Lepage.
Trent Carroll, Executive VP of sales and marketing for the Vancouver Canucks, said the team loves the idea, but objects to its execution.
“It’s absolutely great when the community gets behind the team. It’s the kind of thing that can start traditions like the playoff towels," he said. "We love this gentleman’s passion but he was using the likeness of a member of the Canucks to generate personal profit, so we unfortunately had to ask him to stop.”
Lepage agreed to stop selling the shirts but kept the website live.
He said he'll be donating the remaining shirts to a Downtown Eastside charity.
With files from the CBC's Dan Burritt