NHL suspends John Tortorella for 15 days after brawl

John Tortorella

On Monday the NHL suspended Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella for 15 days without pay for his conduct following his team’s Saturday night brawl with the Calgary Flames.

Tortorella attempted to enter Calgary’s locker room during the first intermission Saturday night and video showed him having to be restrained from Flames staff and players. Saturday night’s game featured a line brawl two seconds after the puck was dropped in the first period, and saw four game misconducts handed out to each team. The Canucks eventually won 3-2 in a shootout.

NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell gave the following statement about the suspension:

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. 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.

The suspension will run through February 2 and Tortorella will miss six games, starting Tuesday night at Edmonton. He will not be allowed to have any interaction with the Canucks before, during or after games during that time.

Tortorella blamed the brawl on Flames coach Bob Hartley, who started his fourth line to open the game. That caused Tortorella to start his fourth line because he said he couldn’t risk star players Daniel and Henrik Sedin being on the ice to open the game.

Hartley has been fined $25,000 by the NHL and Campbell says Calgary’s coach is being held responsible for the actions of right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the opening faceoff and “attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent – the Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa.”

This is the second time Tortorella has been suspended. He also missed Game 6 of the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals – when he was coaching the New York Rangers – after he threw a water bottle into the stands in Washington.

The Canucks issued a statement accepting the suspension but also supporting Tortorella.

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