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Canucks coach Tortorella, Flames have altercation

Epic NHL Fight

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames engaged in a wild first-period brawl Saturday night which later carried over to Canucks coach John Tortorella being involved in an altercation in the hallway outside of the Flames' dressing room.

The opening minutes of the NHL game, which the Canucks won 3-2 in a shootout, was like a scene from the movie "Slap Shot."

It brought back memories of when teams such as the Broad Street Bullies and Big Bad Boston Bruins hit the ice.

"I don't think anybody expected that," said Flames defenseman Chris Butler, one of eight players ejected from the game.

"It's been a while since something like that happened, five guys pairing off."

The Flames raised a red flag by putting their fourth line on the ice to start the game. The Canucks countered with their tough guys.

Game on.

Just 2 seconds had ticked off the clock when all five skaters from each team taking the opening faceoff dropped their gloves and began throwing punches.

Calgary enforcer Brian McGrattan was left bloodied in a fight with Vancouver tough guy Tom Sestito. After the fight Sestito patted McGrattan on the back of the head.

Minor league call-up Kellan Lain's first game as a Canuck was brief. He was tossed for fighting with Calgary's Kevin Westgarth, who has no points in 21 games for the Flames.

Also receiving game misconducts were Vancouver's Dale Weise plus defensemen Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison. For Calgary, it was Westgarth, Blair Jones, Ladislav Smid and Chris Butler.

"They started their goon squad over there," said Sestito, who leads the NHL with 167 penalty minutes in 47 games. "I just don't think we're going to be backing down from guys."

Sestito and McGrattan remained in the game.

In the aftermath of the brawl Tortorella could be seen yelling at the Flames bench.

Later in the period, Calgary's Mark Giordano punched Vancouver's Alex Burrows in the face. Burrows was wearing a facemask to protect a broken jaw. It was his first game since Dec. 1.

The bad blood wasn't confined to the ice. At the end of the first period CBC, which televised the game, captured Tortorella attempting to go into the Flames locker room at Rogers Arena. McGrattan pushed him away.

Flames goaltender coach Clint Malarchuk came out of the Flames dressing room after Tortorella and McGrattan were separated. Malarchuk followed Tortorella, but was restrained by several members of Calgary's staff and McGrattan.

Much of the altercation appeared off camera, but another camera showed Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev pulling Burrows back toward the Canucks dressing room.

Tortorella refused to comment on the incident, but made no apologizes for the lineup he started.

"I know the other guy across the bench," he said. "It's easy for people to say `well put the Sedins out there and it's deflated.' I can't put our players at risk like that.

"With the lineup that he had, I'm not going to put those types of players at risk and that's what ensued. I'm not proud of it. I've apologized to every one of the players involved in it. I don't feel great about it at all."

Flames coach Bob Hartley was left shaking his head over Tortorella charging his team's dressing room.

"I just don't understand," he said. "I got out of there. I don't need to get suspended or fined.

"There is nothing to be settled there. I just don't understand what was going on."

Hartley also defended his starting lineup.

"Those guys are playing well for us," he said. "They got a goal last game. We're not scoring many goals. We had zero intentions there.

"As far as I know they were the home team. They had the luxury to put whoever they wanted on the ice."

The teams combined for 188 penalty minutes in the first period.

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Lord Iconoclast January 20 2014 at 2:59 PM

Tortorella made no "apologizes" for the lineup he started!

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chefdorsback January 20 2014 at 5:55 AM

It should be renamed HACKEY, because that's all it is now, a game for HACKS!!! Real hockey such as I grew up with is GONE!!!

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zzyxx January 20 2014 at 2:02 AM

animals at the top of the food chain...........anyone for golf?

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vzcsillag2 January 20 2014 at 1:56 AM

I grew up in Canada, watching Hockey Night in Canada every Sunday. I watched the great teams with Hull, Orr, Esposito, Gretzky, etc. Yes, there were fights. But these were uncommon and certainly they were not the center of game. Today, due to expansion of the number of teams, so many of the players have limited hockey talent at best, To draw Americans to the 'excitement of the game', many with little knowledge and often no personal experience playing hockey, the NHL encouraged these talentless goons to square off and fight, clip, hack, cross check, and act on ways that would get them arrested if they behaved in this manner on the streets. They have had their best players targeted and in some cases diminished or driven out of hockey due to injuries. I grew up with skates on my feet since the age of 4. I used to have season tickets. But not anymore. I haven't watched a game in years. The game, if you want to call it that, has degenerated into nothing more than a bad exhibition of WWE on ice. The league will never learn. It's all about the money and whatever the scions of the league think will draw the crowds is what they will be served. Talent? Passing? Teamwork? Who needs that when all you need to do is be able to slam your fist into someone's face or gore them with a stick?

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2 replies to vzcsillag2's comment
eoquendo January 20 2014 at 7:09 AM

Fights are still uncommon, always have been and never will be the focus of any hockey game. They are dangerous to the players involved due to possible injury which could end a carreer, bad for team chemestry and what these fights demonstrate to the young hockey players who are up and coming. This sets a terrible example on how the game should be played. However they do happen, but that seldom happens these days. No player wants to get hurt or by hurting another player might instigate an act of revenge. If you really played hockey, then you should know that cross checking, tripping, boarding are real dangers in any hockey game. If a team continues to do so, opposing teams have to do something to stop this behavior. even if it results in a fight. An end to justify the means.
Your assumption that the modern hockey game increasing violence to draw Americans to the game is as ignorant as it is ridiculous. While the United States has had theit share of bad apples, lets not forget Todd Bertuzzi, Raffi Torres, Marty McSorley and Scott Neidermayer just to name a few. And let's not forget when something really horrible happens (see Allen Loney). The USA didn't coach them early in their carrers or try to develope them into great hockey players, which they are not, Canada did. Also, wern't these two Canadian teams in this altercation?
The game is about "talent, passing and teamwork". Teamwork is most important because NO TEAM wins without it. Unfortunately, teamwork comes at a cost. That cost is defending your team, your teammates and yourself from physical harm and intimidation. I think playing up to the best of your skills and getting your teammates to do the same is the best redemption, but that's not what really happens.
I played ice hockey till I couldn't skate anymore but still watch the games daily. You claim to have "had season tickets", but not any more? when you commented "I grew up with skates on my feet since the age of 4", I KNOW those weren't hockey skates!

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sonsign1 January 20 2014 at 2:15 PM

Youre an idiot. You grew up in Canada?Didn't Gordie Howe, one of the greatest scorers ever back in "your day", fight a lot? The answer is yes. You grew up in Canada. So what? Sounds like you grew up ignorant.

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g113c January 20 2014 at 1:55 AM

******* retards!

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luqe110 January 20 2014 at 12:57 AM

Wow, a fight at a hockey game. What a surprise.

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luqe110 January 20 2014 at 12:56 AM

What are we anyway? Animals.

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uforme693432588 January 20 2014 at 12:03 AM

When will people realize hockey is not a sport. If you fight during a hockey game you should be suspended and arrested for assault.

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3 replies to uforme693432588's comment
DANTHALER January 19 2014 at 11:53 PM

I didn't like Tortorella when he coached the Rangers. Now I know he's an as....... He tried to go into the other teams locker room after all of that. What did he think he was going to do and who does he think he is. I guess the players, out of respect cuz he's a coach, wouldn't have kicked the B'Jesus out of him, maybe. You don't go into the other teams locker room and start. I wish somebody didn't stop him and he went in. RIP

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wreedy60201 January 19 2014 at 11:48 PM

Remember, some of these guys will be in Sochi in a few weeks.

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