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Flames' lineup inflames Canucks' Tortorella

The SportsXchange

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella tried to barge into the Calgary Flames' locker room after the first period of Saturday night's NHL game, it wasn't the first time such a thing had happened at Rogers Arena.

In March 1999, Montreal Canadiens forward Shayne Corson drew a five-game suspension for trying to break into the Canucks' room to attack defenseman Ed Jovanovski.

Tortorella isn't sure what punishment he faces. He will likely be fined and might be suspended.

It all began with Calgary coach Bob Hartley starting the game with his fourth line.

Tortorella, with the last line change as home-team coach, followed suit and two seconds after the puck dropped so did the gloves.

Four players from each team were ejected. Calgary took 77 minutes in penalties and Vancouver was hit with 75.

"I'm not proud of what happened," Tortorella said after the game. "It shouldn't be in the game, but I need to protect my players."

Tortorella didn't start his first line to take advantage of the thuggish behemoths the Flames started, he said, because he didn't want them being jumped.

In preseason, Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston put his fourth line out midway through the third period in a game against Toronto and Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle responded with his finesse first line.

Sabres forward John Scott, who is 6 feet 8, tried to fight Leafs sniper Phil Kessel, who started slashing Scott.

A brawl erupted and Rolston was fined for "player selection and team conduct."

Tortorella's players liked their coach's fiery antics.

"He's there for us, he's got our back," said left winger Alex Burrows, who was one of the Canucks escorting their coach back to the Canucks' room.

Tortorella and Hartley have a history.

When Tortorella was coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Hartley was coaching the old Atlanta Thrashers in 2005, Hartley charged into Tortorella's office in Tampa to offer an earful.

Tortorella also matched fourth line for fourth line while coaching the New York Rangers when New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer started his bench-warmers in a game at Madison Square Garden in 2012.

Blood had to be scraped off the ice that time, too, just like in Vancouver on Saturday night.

Hartley was not impressed.

"Suddenly, there he was," the Calgary coach said. "I just don't understand.

"I got out of there. I don't need to get suspended or fined. There was nothing to settle."

Hartley said he started the players he did because they'd been playing well of late.

"As far as I know, (Tortorella) has last change," Hartley said. "They all seemed willing combatants."

Flames defenseman Shane O'Brien, who played for Tortorella in Tampa Bay, said it was just Torts being Torts.

"I know that Torts was excited and somehow found his way into our hallway," O'Brien said. "I have a lot of respect for him.

"But he had last change. He didn't have to start their tough guys."
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