Canucks-Flames brawl lives on, from the NFL to blowhard-Burke

Normally when there’s a good-old fashioned NHL line brawl, it’s the talk of the office for a day or two, and then rarely thought of again until you end up visiting the old-history section of hockeyfights.com.

Last Saturday’s Vancouver Canucks-Calgary Flames fight-fest, however, continues to make headlines, whether it’s folks reporting on the upcoming NFL Super Bowl or the latest rantings of professional blowhard Brian Burke.

For those with short memories, the Flames and the Canucks literally took two seconds to turn the Hockey Day in Canada game into a real-life re-creation of Slap Shot. When the gloves and sticks were finally picked up, eight players were ejected, including Vancouver rookie Kellan Lain, who was playing his first NHL game, and now holds the record for fastest fight to start a career.

Not be outdone by those on the ice, Canucks’ coach John Tortorella stormed the Calgary dressing room between periods, incensed that Flames coach Bob Hartley chose to start a lineup of all-star knuckle-draggers that included Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth. Tortorella ended up suspended for 15 days and six games.

Hartley received a $25,000 fine by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell. In a statement, Campbell said: “We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames’ right-wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game’s opening faceoff and attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent—the Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa.”

It was excellent entertainment, to the point where the story refuses to die.

Cue Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who was criticized as a “thug” after his team defeated the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. The backlash started when a heated Sherman used a postgame interview to verbally attack San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree, including such salvos as “Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”

That led to the suggestions of thuggery, to which Sherman has responded with “Maybe I’m talking loudly and doing something … talking like I’m not supposed to, but there was a hockey game when they didn’t even play hockey,” Sherman said. “They threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and said, ‘Oh man, I’m the thug? What’s going on here?’ Geez. I’m really disappointed in being called a thug.”

Not to be outdone—or content to let the line-brawl story die—Flames GM Burke used a Calgary law-school lecture earlier this week to suggest that the fight night at GM Place on Saturday was all Vancouver’s fault, even though Hartley iced his lineup first.

“I’m not happy with the [$25,000] fine that Coach Hartley received,” Burke said. “Especially since we all know the Canucks started it.”

The headlines haven’t stopped there. Major League Baseball analyst Peter Gammons, who works for the league’s network and website, used his Twitter account to write “Calgary and Vancouver last night reiterated why the NHL is a minor sport”. That caused Saskatchewan-born professional golfer Graham DeLaet to fire back with “seriously though, who is Peter Gammons? He has a puppy and flowers as his avatar.”

On the breaking-news front, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has just weighed in while wearing Georges Laraque–issue dreadlocks and speaking in a hideously exaggerated Québécois accent while stuffing a johnnycake into his Chris Farley-like pie-hole.

 

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