DETROIT – Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella returned from his 15-day suspension against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
Tortorella was punished without pay for his conduct after a brawl in a game against the Calgary Flames. He went to Calgary’s locker room following the first period, which began with several fights.
“I apologize first and foremost to the players for the situation I put them in, to the organization for my stupidity, to the league,” Tortorella told reporters after the team’s morning skate. “It’s been embarrassing and not just for me, but for everyone around me.”
NHL senior executive vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said Tortorella’s actions were “dangerous and an embarrassment to the league” when the suspension was announced.
Tortorella previously blamed Flames coach Bob Hartley for starting his fourth line, saying he couldn’t put Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin at risk just to deflate the situation. Hartley was fined $25,000 by the NHL, but Tortorella was very contrite after his absence.
“What’s happened was deserved,” he said. “I hope it makes me a better coach, but it certainly doesn’t stop the situations I’ve put a lot of other people in, especially my other coaches.”
Vancouver lost 2-0 to the Red Wings on Monday night, spoiling Tortorella’s return.
During the suspension, which lasted six games, Tortorella wasn’t allowed to interact with the Canucks before, during or after games.
“It’s been very embarrassing for my family and for myself and more importantly, everybody around me that I’m supposed to represent,” he said. “As far as the nonsense I caused, I want to move by it. I think too much focus has been put on this. We need to worry about our hockey club right now.”
Tortorella was suspended for Game 6 of the 2009 playoffs when he was coaching the New York Rangers for throwing a water bottle into the stands in Washington.
Clearly, Tortorella sounded as if he regretted his second suspension.
“I put a lot of other people in a precarious situation,” he said. “I’m glad I’m back with our guys. I’m looking forward to trying to grow more as a coach with them. More importantly, get our team growing together again to be a competitive team.”