If you missed last night’s 5-on-5 melee in Vancouver, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks provides the details, but not before suggesting the situation was awfully reminscent of how current Canucks / former Rangers coach John Tortorella handeld the start of proceedings against the Devils nearly two years ago.
Tortorella matched Calgary’s opening line of Blair Jones, Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth with Dale Weise, Tom Sestito and Kellan Lain. When the Flames chose noted pugilist Westgarth—who had taken two faceoffs all season and a total of nine in his four-year NHL career—to take the opening draw, Tortorella had Canucks’ defenseman Kevin Bieksa move up to replace and protect Lain, the Lake Superior State product who was making his NHL debut.
Mayhem ensued. Everyone on the ice other than the goaltenders dropped their gloves and fought. Tortorella moved down the bench and screamed at length at Hartley, who acted oblivious to it all and remained above the fray that he essentially had initiated.
After the match had ended with a shootout victory, Tortorella talked about the need to protect his team while all too predictably verbally attacking straw men (“all the pundits and all the people who moan about it, they don’t have a clue what a locker room is like”) who might take umbrage at his tactics.