One of John Tortorella’s favorite conspiracy theories is that the Pittsburgh Penguins get preferential treatment from the NHL when it comes to suspensions. Like, for example, when then-Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik laid out Marian Gaborik in 2012 with a knee-on-knee hit.
“I wonder what would happen if we did that to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen?” said Tortorella. “It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the League. They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens. It’s ridiculous. But they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they? Starting with their two [expletive] stars.”
Fast forward to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it’s another coach slyly making that claim.
Ironically, he’s the guy currently coaching Brooks Orpik.
Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said on Monday that he was disappointed in the three-game suspension for Orpik – who knocked Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta out of Game 2 and Game 3 with an illegal interference hit – but not exactly shocked.
“I’m disappointed in the length more than anything else. That injury to [Dmitry] Orlov in the previous season [could have been] career-ending,” said Trotz, of the hit by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare that earned the Flyers player one game. “I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised based on who we’re playing and all that. So we’ll just move forward.”
When asked to clarify those comments, Trotz said: “Take it for whatever you want.”
Here’s how we’ll take it: Trotz isn’t exactly Donald Trump when it comes to off the cuff remarks. He’s measured and smart. So this was by design.
Or maybe he just noticed that the first time Orpik earned a suspension since 2006 was after he left Pittsburgh ...
Trotz also spoke to the "suspend to the injury" mentality in the NHL, saying that Maatta's injury could have been pre-existing.
“The League does a good job. It’s a tough job. It shouldn’t be based on injury, it should be based on situation. Looking at the previous series, I think Maatta might have been hurt in sorta the same way. Who knows? Maybe he got hit a couple of times and it has a lasting effect.”
As for Orpik, he acknowledged the illegality of this hit in speaking to the media on Monday:
“It was a late hit. That’s why I was having a hearing. There wasn’t much arguing. I obviously told them there was no intent there, but there was no denying it was late,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect as far as how many games, but it was going to have to be something that I accept. Hopefully, across the league, they start punishing everything else the same way.”
Well, obviously not if a Penguin does it, of course, but the NHL is totally in the bag for them. Just ask Crosby about Steckel and Hedman. Or don’t.
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