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What a crazy day of hockey, and we’ll start where ESPN’s Sports Center broadcast did on Saturday night: with the Vancouver-Calgary line brawl that capped off one of the more memorable evenings of NHL hockey.
For a full run down and videos click here, but here’s what you need to know. Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley started his fourth line on Saturday night (the first time he’s done so all season), and John Tortorella answered with a goon-ish lineup of his own. Off of the ensuing draw all ten players on the ice engaged (shades of what happened with the Devils and Rangers back in 2012) and eight of the players (essentially all of the fighters save for Tom Sestito and Brian McGratten) were tossed.
One of those players was Canucks rookie Kellan Lain, who was making his NHL debut with his family in attendance. While Torts said after the game that he regretted the decision to start Lain on Saturday, the rookie actually managed to make a dent in the NHL record books thanks to his roll in the fight. No rookie skater has ever managed to get into a fight as quickly into their career as Lain, and no one is likely to ever take that away from him.
After the first period, Tortorella pursued Hartley to the Flames dressing room where an altercation of sorts took place. Tortorella isn’t the first coach to try and fight Hartley (or at least give him a stern talking too) and partly that’s because Hartley’s teams are regularly goonish gongshow squads. Also it’s partly because Bob Hartley seems like a rather unsavory character. Anyway Tortorella reportedly will have a hearing in New York on Monday to discuss his role in the brawl and his attempting to enter the Flames locker room.
One thing to keep in mind is that an in-person hearing for a coach doesn’t imply the same thing it does for a player (whenever a player receives an in-person hearing we can be pretty sure the suspension will be six games or more, and the CBA in fact requires the DoPS to extend an in-person invite to any player in order to suspend them for a duration exceeding five). I’d expect Tortorella will get a short suspension and a significant fine, in part because his actions were a bit much and in part because he’s been a bit too critical of Brendan Shanahan this season.
Beyond the ugly scene in Vancouver (and I for one kind of loved it, frankly), Jamie Benn elbowed Matt Cooke in the head rather blatantly on Saturday. No one cared of course, and there wasn’t even a penalty on the play, because the victim of the hit was Matt Cooke. But… that totally common reaction is kind of messed up right?
Finally in a third bit of controversy, this Nicklas Kronwall GTG bounced up off of Jonathan Quick, hit the netting, came back into play, bounced off of Quick&