Updated: Tuesday, 21 January 2014 16:37 | By Agence France-Presse

Canucks coach Tortorella banned 15 days for outburst

The National Hockey League on Sunday slapped Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella with a 15-day suspension over conduct it called "an embarrassment."

Canucks coach Tortorella banned 15 days for outburst

Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella pictured during a press conference in Vancouver on November 23, 2013 - by Rich Lam

On Saturday, the 55-year-old tried to enter the Calgary Flames' locker room to engage head coach Bob Hartley at the end of the first period of a game in Vancouver between the Canucks and Flames.

"Mr. Tortorella's actions in attempting to enter the Calgary Flames locker room ... were both dangerous and an embarrassment to the League," said the NHL's vice president of hockey operations, Colin Campbell.

"Coaches in the NHL bear the responsibility of providing leadership, even when emotions run high, and Mr. Tortorella failed in his responsibility to the game."

Tortorella, an American, was angry with Hartley because he decided to start his fourth line for the opening faceoff.

Tortorella put out his enforcers and defenseman Kevin Bieksa moved up to take the opening faceoff and immediately started fighting with Kevin Westgarth of the Flames. That spread to the other eight skaters, sparking a line brawl that lasted several minutes.

No one was seriously injured as the Canucks won the game 3-2 in a shootout. 

There were a total of 150 penalty minutes handed out in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the contest and 204 over the entire game.

Tortorella reached the door of the Calgary dressing room where he was stopped by several Flames players.

Hartley, a Canadian, insisted he did nothing wrong and was just rewarding some of his hardest working grinders with some extra ice time. He said Tortorella misunderstood the situation.

"We had absolutely zero intentions there," Hartley said at the time.

Still, Campbell fined Hartley $25,000 for not controlling one of his players.

"We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames' right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game's opening face-off and attempted to instigate a pre-meditated fight with an unwilling opponent -- the Canucks' Kevin Bieksa."

Westgarth, who has 32 penalty minutes in 22 games this season, fought Bieksa, who moved up from his defensive position to take the faceoff. Bieksa has 82 penalty minutes in 50 games.

One of the players Tortorella put on the ice was rookie Kellan Lain who was playing in the first NHL game of his career.

Tortorella's suspension, which took effect Sunday, is set to actually start with Tuesday's contest against the Edmonton Oilers. In effect a six-game absence, it will be completed on February 2, one day before a game against the Detroit Red Wings. 

Tortorella had previously been fined three times for inappropriate comments and suspended once during the 2009 playoffs for throwing a water bottle into the stands in Washington, the US capital.

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