I fancy myself as a self-taught hockey fan. Growing up in a small town in Minnesota, we didn't even have an ice rink and it wasn't until I moved to Moorhead that I became a certified puck head. When it comes to physical aggression, watching guys skate 200 miles per hour and crash into their opponent without getting a foul is pretty cool.
They can't do that in basketball.
I have also watched stupid things like the WWE style scripted pillow fight between the Canucks and the Flames to start the game. Because throwing your fourth line tough guys on the ice to start things off with a pier six brawl makes a ton of sense.
Thank god they don't do that in basketball.
We are supposed to throw our arms up in outrage when five fights break out resulting in 142 penalty minutes, eight ejections and names being crossed off holiday card lists all in the first moments of a meaningless game in January?
Imagine if in 1983, Billy Cunningham hat trotted out J.J Anderson, Mark McNamara, Reggie Johnson, Clemon Johnson and Russ Schoene for the Philadalphia 76ers against the Lakers in the Finals to "send a message". Would Pat Riley have been forced to counter with Joe Cooper, Billy Ray Bates, Steve Mix, Eddie Jordan and Mark Landsberger? We all know he would have stuck with Kareem, Magic, Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon and Michael Cooper although he still probably would have been swept in four.
The point is although Canucks coach John Tortorella could have certainly put his top line out against Bob Hartley's bunch, he chose to play the other card and sent the game into full out Armageddon. The fallout led to Torts (as he is called) trying to break down the Flames locker room door between the first and second periods. His actions led to him being suspended for 15 days or 21,600 minutes and as the old adage goes, he'll head to his version of the penalty box and feel shame.
Hartley said after that Tortorella "blew a fuse" while Tortorella returned fire with accusations of goon tactics. No one should really be surprised. These two have history.
"I see the starting lineup, and I see the guy across the bench and it's easy for people to say ‘put the Sedin's out there and let's deflate it'. I can't put our players at risk that way," said Tortorella following the game. "With the lineup that he had, I am not going to put those type of players at risk."
"I'm not proud of it, I've apologized to everyone of the players involved in it. I don't feel great about it at all," Tortorella said. "It shouldn't be in the game, that stuff. I don't want it in the game but I have to protect my team too. So all the pundits and all the people pissing and moaning about it that don't have a clue what a locker room is about."
In his postgame thoughts Hartley said he had no intentions of a riot breaking out with the line he started the game with.
"Those guys are playing well for us and they got us a goal last game and obviously we're not scoring many goals," Hartley said. "We had absolutely zero intentions there."
The two teams meet again in March 8th in Vancouver. Coach Hartley, it's your move.