John Tortorella gets off lightly with 15-day suspension | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaJohn Tortorella gets off lightly with 15-day suspension

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014 | 10:04 PM

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Tortorella went to Calgary's locker room at intermission following the first period Saturday night, which began with a handful of fights and four game misconducts per team. (Rich Lam/Getty Images) Tortorella went to Calgary's locker room at intermission following the first period Saturday night, which began with a handful of fights and four game misconducts per team. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

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Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella is not a saint among sinners in the NHL. Therefore, he deserved stiffer punishment than his 15-day, six game suspension, writes Tim Wharnsby.

John Tortorella's actions Saturday were deemed "dangerous and an embarrassment" to the NHL, but the Vancouver Canucks head coach was hit with a rather light 15-day, six-game suspension.

That's right, it was light. It's not like the 55-year-old coach is a saint among NHL sinners. He has a long list of run-ins with the league office. Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton did not and yet he received a longer, harsher suspension.

The two stalked their prey in their respective incidents. Thornton chased down Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik on the ice and got 15 games. Tortorella tried to get inside the Calgary Flames dressing room on Saturday, was restrained by the opposition, but received four games less. He got off lightly.

But then again, league officials have treated coaches and general managers differently than players when it comes to supplementary discipline in recent seasons. 


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The NHL once viewed out-of-control coaches as a serious offence. Canucks head coach was suspended 10 games for charging at and getting into a scuffle with a fan at Le Colisee in Quebec City near the end of the 1981-82 season.

Apparently charging down the hall into enemy territory, like Tortorella did, isn't as nasty.

Again, I don't have a problem with Tortorella putting his fourth line on the ice to start the game after Flames head coach Bob Hartley scribbled down his fourth line down as his staring lineup. It was Tortorella's actions in the intermission during the first period that deserved stiff punishment.

Hartley, whose heated history with Tortorella dates back to their days in the AHL in 1995, was fined $25,000 for his starting lineup. 

"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," NHL senior executive vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. "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."

2-week vacation minus $75K

So take a two-week vacation, a $75,000 hit on his salary. We don't want you to have any interaction with your team before, during or after the Canucks games. We'll see on Feb. 2. 

Tortorella should have received a 10-game banishment. He should have been off until the Olympic break because of his scary actions and his history.

  • On November 19, 2007, he was fined $10,000 for his post-game remarks about the on-ice officials in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.
  • On April 25, 2009, he was suspended for Game 5 of the New York Rangers first-round series against the Washington Capitals after he tossed a water bottle at an unruly fan and later tried to spear the person through two pains of glass with one of his player's stick.
  • On November 4, 2009, he was fined $10,000 for sending Rangers forward Dane Byers out for a late-game shift to fight Vancouver's Tanner Glass in a heated contest.
  • On January 4, 2012, he was fined $30,000 for his post-Winter Classic conspiracy suggestion that NBC and the on-ice officials were getting together to make sure the outdoor affair was extended to overtime with some questionable calls.
  • On April 6, 2012, he was fined $20,000 for calling Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin "whining stars" of the "arrogant" Pittsburgh Penguins.

But apparently in discipline issues history only matters for players. Again, Tortorella got off lightly.

It will be interesting to see how this incident will shape the Canucks in the weeks to come. 

Before the shootout win over the Flames Saturday, the Canucks had scored only once in their past three outings. They were struggling.

Now Vancouver seems like a team that has come together after the events of Saturday evening. They liked their coach's antics.

Tortorella will miss games in Edmonton on Tuesday, followed by home games against Nashville, Phoenix, Edmonton and Chicago and then on the road again in Winnipeg.

His longtime sidekick Mike Sullivan, who has 164 games of NHL head coaching experience with the Boston Bruins, and Glen Gulutzan, who has 130 games of experience at the helm of the Dallas Stars, will run the team in his absence. So things will carry on with the Canucks.

Did I mention I think Tortorella got off lightly?

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