PLAYER SELECTION

Brian Sutherby
January 20 2014 08:55AM

During and after the fireworks in Vancouver on Saturday night, many people wanted to get on Canucks head coach John Tortorella for being so mad. Claiming that if he didn’t want or expect that to happen, he should have put out a more skilled line.

I disagree.

He shouldn't have made his way to the Calgary Flames dressing room but that doesnt mean he can't be upset about the start to the game.

MCGRATTAN & WESTGARTH

Yes, every once in a while a team starts their fourth line and it doesn’t always result in a line brawl but Torterella couldn’t risk putting his skill guys out there. I don’t think if they countered Calgary’s fourth line with the Sedin line, the twins would have gotten mauled but how do you really know?

You don’t start that line with Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth, two of the toughest in the game, without the intention of a big physical start. Whether it’s running around to set a physical tone or actually fighting someone.

It’s hard to know what was said between Westgarth who was playing center for some reason and Kevin Bieksa but it sure looked like Westgarth was more than ready to do something dumb and it didn’t matter who was taking the draw. Westgarth did immediately jump an unwilling guy and then grabbed Kellen Lain and made him fight 2 seconds into his first NHL game.

If things were different and a skilled Canuck player was injured or beat up badly because they didn’t respond with the right line, who is everyone blaming today?

The head coach of course.

It happened to Randy Carlyle in pre-season this year, when he put out Phil Kessel with John Scott. His best player was put in a bad spot because he didn’t expect it to happen. “I never believed in my wildest dreams that the attack would come directed at that type of player from the opposition, but I was wrong.” He said.

BOB HARTLEY

A very memorable game I was playing in 2006 had a similar situation as far as player selection. The game was in Washington versus the Atlanta Thrashers who were coached at that time by none other than Bob Hartley.  His teams were always pretty tough and we had some good battles with them.

It was late in the game and six foot five Andy Sutton took a big run at one of our young defenseman Mike Green. This wasn’t a little run; this was a take your head off and hurt you type run. The third or fourth time he had done this late in a hockey game against us. Green thankfully avoided it, but the intent was absolutely there to hurt someone once again.

After the hit, a small melee ensued. This left each team playing 3 on 3.  Our bench was irate. Many four letter words were exchanged before the next faceoff. What happened next is, Hartley either misread the situation or he intended to diffuse it with the players he put out.

WRONG MOVE

We were at home and had last change. Hartley sent out Greg DeVries, Vitaly Vishnevskiy and Marian Hossa of all guys. Our head coach Glen Hanlon answered with Donald Brashear, John Erskine and Matt Bradley. Everyone knew what was going to happen whether you like it or not. We were not going to be pushed around again.

Brashear beat the snot out of Vishnevskiy, Erskine gave Hossa a rough ride and DeVries and Bradley paired off.

Now this incident in 2006 happened at the end of an extremely heated game with rules in place to prevent instigating and shenanigans in the last 5 minutes so perhaps there was a sense of protection the Thrashers bench felt?

Either way, the end result was players that shouldn’t have been out there for Atlanta were and Hartley made a huge mistake. Andy Sutton and Bob Hartley have to feel terrible for getting their guys pummelled.

COACHING CALL

The situation in the Flames-Canucks game was different. There wasn’t a heated incident immediately before, but as a coach I don’t think you can take that chance, especially if you have last change.

Torterella is vilified more today if Daniel Sedin is mugged or their team is completely taken advantage of.  He protected his team, which is what a coach is supposed to do. He had no choice but to put out a comparable line of grit and toughness. That doesn’t mean he has to be happy with what unfolded next.

No one knows what might have happened had Tortorella put out a skilled line. This game is unpredictable and rules don’t often matter in the heat of the moment. Assuming nothing, could have been very costly for him, more than the fine or suspension he will likely receive and deserve for his intermission antics. He could have lost his best players or that dressing room.

Has Bob Hartley ever tried to diffuse a situation again, when put in Tortorella's spot?

I doubt it. 

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#51 SmellOfVictory
January 20 2014, 09:39AM
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This is something I don't understand: what is the requirement for "protection"? If one guy tries to fight another guy and second guy refuses, the refs will prevent a fight and instigator will get a penalty.

It's not like either Westgarth or McGrattan are good enough hockey players to be able to hurt people while playing; all they can do is punch dudes if the other dudes agree to fight them. I could see an issue if it was lining the Sedins up against a line of Lucics, but it's not even close to that.

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#52 Fish
January 20 2014, 10:00AM
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Disagree Brian. Coaches fight all game to get a match up like knuckle drag-er 4th line vs your top line. If you get that during a game, you take it, and you don't worry osmething stupid will happen. You wanna make the Flames look bad, score a goal 21 seconds into the game. The 4th line looks terrible, the coach looks even dumber, and you're winning. Yes, it's just a regular season game against a team they probably beat anyways, but I think the odds of the Flames trying anything against the Sedins are pretty low. If im Torts, I play the Sedins, and let it be know to MY ENTIRE TEAM to be ready off the faceoff. IF something happens and they DO try something crazy, then every man jumps off the bench like lightening and 21 guys pound those 5 idiots for 5 seconds before the rest of the Flames bench clears and then the real fireworks begin. If there is a dog pile on a few of these guys you can even get a couple "accidental kicks" in for pay back.

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#53 elvis15
January 20 2014, 10:28AM
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@mk

Here's the problem with that: all it takes is for one guy to get grabbed by a goon and the rest of his linemates will have to come help. It's easier said than done to maintain possession of the puck and stay away from getting punched.

The other important point is Henrik Sedin was questionable to even play and left later due to injury so Torts couldn't start them and risk even getting Henrik hit by a 4th liner. Starting the Kesler line and having this kind of result plus having Henrik unable to play the full game would leave the Canucks with basically only the 3rd and 4th lines for the rest of the game - not a good idea if you actually want to win the game since the Canucks need the points to stay in the playoff hunt.

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#54 yomamen11
January 20 2014, 11:09AM
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@Hat Pughes

Amen bro! Bieksa is a pile of trash

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#55 ryan
January 20 2014, 11:25AM
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At least we don't have to worry about this stuff in edmonton. Look at the response we had when cooke ran yakapov..........

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#57 Cynic
January 20 2014, 11:47AM
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Torterella is vilified more today if Daniel Sedin is mugged or their team is completely taken advantage of. He protected his team, which is what a coach is supposed to do. He had no choice but to put out a comparable line of grit and toughness.

Well said, Brian. I also agree that Fonzie's between-period act deserves a suspension.

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#58 D-Unit
January 20 2014, 01:13PM
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Primo wrote:

The heart, energy, desire that the Flames are showing despite that it's early in their rebuild and the team has very little talent is exciting. This identity is a critical element of a successful rebuild.

Unlike the Oilers who have had 3 consecutive 1st overall's (soon a 4th) and much more talent they are listless, lifeless, heartless, and most important they have developed a culture of no accountability and losing that will be very difficult to change!

The Oilers have held coaches, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, and GM Steve Tambellini accountable.

It has taught the players, it is not their problem, the coach will get fired, and we never have fault. Win or lose, the pay cheque goes in the bank.

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#59 GeezMoney
January 20 2014, 01:55PM
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I thought Saturday was a great night for hockey. Sestito beat down McGratten, Kassian punked Bouma and the Canucks won.

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#60 elvis15
January 20 2014, 10:37AM
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@pkam

The Devils were the visiting team, not the Rangers, in that game and it was DeBoer that choose to ice his goons first.

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#61 chillout
January 20 2014, 02:11PM
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@elvis15

haha tough minutes all you want about the sisters but I have yet to see them stand up and fight for a win (playoffs????) Sure they can score but when the going gets tough they get diving. That doesn't win you hockey games. So yes I don't respect them nor do I want them on my team.

Comparing them to Mcgrattan is idiotic he's not supposed to carry a team. He plays a role and does what is asked of him. He doesn't dive or act like an idiot. He goes out and tries his best, he may not be very good but at least he tries.

The sisters disappear the moment things get physical. Also keeping your consecutive games streak going by going out for a 15 second shift to start the game and calling it quits after that is also extremely idiotic and hurts the teams chances at winning.

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#62 vetinari
January 20 2014, 09:10AM
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oops, double post. stupid lag.

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#63 The Dude
January 20 2014, 11:35AM
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I was at the NYR-NJ game at MSG in 2012. It was an awful game in the end except for the opening face off. It was clearly staged and the fights were duds. It didn't set the tone at all. I them got really really pissed and offended a Spanish tourist sitting next to me. What kind of Spanish guy has a shaggy red beard?!?

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#64 chillout
January 20 2014, 11:43AM
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@ThatGuy

Dec. 20, 2011 Rangers vs. Devils. Torts being away started his 4th line and devils responded with the same. no line brawl but still Torts never accepts the blame for anything.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy5iX4eCj_k

then later devils did it right back to them.

Then devils coach DeBoer

“I guess in John’s world you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can’t do the same in here,” DeBoer said. “He’s either got short-term memory loss or he’s a hypocrite. So it’s one of the other.”

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#65 elvis15
January 20 2014, 04:04PM
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PB wrote:

You must have loved the dive Giordano took grabbing Kassian's stick then.

Pretty terrible, wasn't it? I at first thought Kassian must have had his stick up past Giordano's waist and Giordano just chicken winged it, but it's pretty clear from the reply that Kassian's stick was down at Giordano's knees/thighs and Giordano grabs it, pulls it up, then flops backwards to draw the call.

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#66 prendrefeu
January 20 2014, 06:28PM
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15 days or 6 games all because of what was caught on video.

I've got the same setup in my van.

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#67 Kodiak
January 20 2014, 10:44AM
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Totally disagree, Brian. All of the "incidents" you referred to were late in the game, score out of hand situations. I don't think there is any history of something like that happening on the opening faceoff. The chances of something like Westgarth mugging Sedin then were 1 in a million.

If those concerns were real, if the Flames 4th line iced the puck the Canucks would never throw their top line on then but we know they'd be licking their chops to get them out there in that matchup.

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#68 pkam
January 20 2014, 10:47AM
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elvis15 wrote:

The Devils were the visiting team, not the Rangers, in that game and it was DeBoer that choose to ice his goons first.

Go to NHL.com and look it up yourself.

Mar 19, 2013, Rangers at New Jersey.

If you don't know how, go to NHL.com, choose Schedule|By Season, then select 2012-13, Regular Season, Rangers, and Away games. Then scroll down and you will see Rangers vs Devils on Mar 19, 2013.

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#69 kesselkadri
January 20 2014, 10:53AM
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This is why skilled tough guys like Lucic, Clarkson and Phaneuf are important to successful hockey teams. Even Kadri is pretty tough and gritty and can throw down a fight.

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#70 ThatGuy
January 20 2014, 11:22AM
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@pkam:

Wrong year. It happened in New York:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIlLbJHKw8M

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#71 Wonger
January 20 2014, 12:03PM
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Czar wrote:

How many times have we seen Torts go off in a press conference or game in the past few years? The guys a tool who does more harm to the hockey with his BS and tirades than any fight, staged or otherwise has. I'd like to see him get 3-5 games but a good beating in the hallway would have been even better.

It would have been HILARIOUS to see one of my faves, MCGRATS, demolish torts with a flurry of overhand rights!!!

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#72 elvis15
January 20 2014, 12:39PM
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@chillout

They still come up as a part of the contact and he almost clotheslines Alberts with the way he goes in with his arms.

I get that McGratton isn't really a dirty player (he's not a Ben Eager for sure) so I have some respect for him there, but there is also Westgarth on the ice - particularly at center. The intent is fairly obvious to either fight right away or set a very physical tone (more so than any other time of the game).

It's not a match up you choose as the Canucks with a neutral zone faceoff at the start of the game. After an icing or something, sure, but as the home team with last change you don't pick that most of the time.

I'm glad you can argue a point without name calling or insults though... wait, what was that "little babies" comment? You might as well just call them sisters, something else that's derogatory but absolutely false considering the physical abuse they take while playing the cycle and still keep going.

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#73 piscera.infada
January 20 2014, 01:14PM
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Primo wrote:

The heart, energy, desire that the Flames are showing despite that it's early in their rebuild and the team has very little talent is exciting. This identity is a critical element of a successful rebuild.

Unlike the Oilers who have had 3 consecutive 1st overall's (soon a 4th) and much more talent they are listless, lifeless, heartless, and most important they have developed a culture of no accountability and losing that will be very difficult to change!

For sure. We can argue the actions to the death - I'm not too sure the answer is as easy as 'x' coach is wrong. The nice thing about the whole pinata from a Flames perspective is that there's a pulse. You can say whatever you want about the skill (or lack thereof), but to me, that game proves they aren't going down without a fight. I like that, and see it as a crucial component of a successful "rebuild".

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#74 andyg
January 20 2014, 05:39PM
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Who are all the people who are posting on here? Tons of names that I have never seen before. I guess the game must have been entertaining.

I think Torts did ever thing right but the hall way nonsense. H Sedin has something wrong with his ribs and Burrows is coming off a broken jaw. That's who Calgary lined their 2 toughest players against. That would send alarms off for me.

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#75 john
January 21 2014, 02:28AM
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I was wondering why so many teams hate the Canucks, Chi, Bos, now Flames, soon the Oilers. Classless and cheapshot with that clown Kassian after he broke Gagner jaws then taunt him last game. Somebody beat the snot out of him Tue game please.

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#76 piscera.infada
January 20 2014, 10:25AM
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@pkam

I really hope that wasn't a typo, and we're now calling him Bob "The Bod" Hartley.

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#77 pkam
January 20 2014, 10:30AM
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piscera.infada wrote:

I really hope that wasn't a typo, and we're now calling him Bob "The Bod" Hartley.

Sorry, that is a typo. But I guess everyone knows who I referring to.

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#78 wineeditor
January 20 2014, 11:03AM
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There is nothing wrong with icing the line up you want (both Calgary and Vancouver).

There is nothing wrong with challenging someone to a fight at a face off and if BOTH agree there is nothing wrong with the ensuing fight.

There is nothing wrong with extracting retribution on an opponent at the faceoff for a previous cheap shot (whether or not the cheap shot artist wants to fight or not). I wish our tough guys did more of this.

What was wrong as sending Westgarth out to center ice with seeminly the sole purpose to start a fight right off the get go with an unwilling participant. (This assumes that Westgarth would have tried to start something with the rookie originally slated to take the face off which I suspect would have been the case.)

Not knowing who Torts would have put on the ice it is clear to me that Westgarth wasn't out to extract retribution for a previous cheap shot.

If Westgarth hadn't started the fight and McGratten or Jones found a WILLING partner I would have had no problem with the fight but Westgarth immediately dropping the gloves on an unwilling participant was wrong.

I like Hartley but if he gave orders to Westgarth he should be fined. I suspect that may have been the case. If that was the case Hartley was wrong and Westgarth was wrong although being in Westgarths position I don't see that he had any alternative and suspect he was pumped as well because he finally was able to contribute to a game in the manner his coach wanted.

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#79 elvis15
January 20 2014, 11:12AM
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@SeanCharles

"Truculent it up! I miss when teams feared coming here because they knew Iggy, Regehr and Phaneuf would hit and fight anyone."

Canucks have players like that too, in Kesler, Bieksa and Kassian, but you mentioning Phaneuf with the Flames reminded me immediately of that gif of Phaneuf falling when turning to fight Ruutu.

http://www.trevorpresiloski.com/wp-content/gallery/content/oh-phaneuf.gif

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#80 elvis15
January 20 2014, 11:21AM
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pkam wrote:

Go to NHL.com and look it up yourself.

Mar 19, 2013, Rangers at New Jersey.

If you don't know how, go to NHL.com, choose Schedule|By Season, then select 2012-13, Regular Season, Rangers, and Away games. Then scroll down and you will see Rangers vs Devils on Mar 19, 2013.

I already did look it up and it was March 19, 2012 - not 2013: http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyseason.htm?season=20112012&gameType=2&team=NYR&network=&venue=home

Here's an article to back it up: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/devils-vs-rangers-bloody-brawl-off-opening-faceoff-002254198.html

"But what a way to start their nationally televised rivalry game on Monday night than with a brawl off the opening faceoff. The Devils, the visiting team, wanted to send a message by putting out their toughest (and least played) line right off the start. The Rangers countered with two of their toughest forwards and a defenseman who moved up to take the opening draw. Six players agreed to fight to set the tone, and away we went..."

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#81 chillout
January 20 2014, 02:43PM
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@PB

not really, but thankfully that's pretty rare on our team.

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#82 joshgladu
January 20 2014, 08:33PM
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oh so the capitals willingly sent out players to literally ASSAULT someone else. thats cool!

not

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#83 Ted
January 22 2014, 11:30AM
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john wrote:

I was wondering why so many teams hate the Canucks, Chi, Bos, now Flames, soon the Oilers. Classless and cheapshot with that clown Kassian after he broke Gagner jaws then taunt him last game. Somebody beat the snot out of him Tue game please.

I think when teams have some success then they turn into a polarizing. I don't think people pay much mind to the Flames until Hartley pulled that BS move last Sat. Welcome to the Brian Burke mind-set. Little success and lots of penalty minutes.

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#84 Captain Ron
January 22 2014, 12:16PM
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Hat Pughes wrote:

Off topic but on the same situation. I don't get why Everyone (Cherry PJStock VanMedia)was so high on commending Bieksa for his leadership in the situation in protecting the rookie Lain.

Are you freaking kidding me???!!!???

Bieksa heroes up to take the draw.Then when the puck is dropped he refuses to engage with Westgarth. Instead, Bieksa beelines it to Smid and decides that who he wants to fight. Guess who Lain partners up with anyways without "Big Bro Bieksa" lookin out for him -- Yup Westgarth.

I noticed that too. I'm surprised it took so long for someone to bring this up. As Canuck players go I like him more than most on that team but found it hilarious how he ditched Westgarth for Smid. Looked like Smid handled himself alright.

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