John Tortorella’s reaction raises debate over NHL line brawling

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Adam Oates has some strong opinions about what transpired in Vancouver late Saturday night in a heated game between the Canucks and Calgary Flames.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he would like to share them with anyone, but the questions are worth asking because, let’s face it, his team could be in a similar predicament some day.

Before Saturday night’s game, Calgary coach Bob Hartley submitted an opening lineup that included enforcers Kevin Westgarth and Brian McGrattan, leaving Vancouver coach John Tortorella with a decision to make.

Should he start the offensively gifted but mild-mannered Sedin twins? Or should he fight fire with fire.

To no one’s surprise, Tortorella sent the toughest guys on his team out for the opening faceoff and the results were predictable – a five-fight line brawl that resulted in eight players being ejected.

Tortorella tossed even more gasoline on the fire at the end of the opening period when he tried confronting the Canucks as they came off the ice and headed to the visiting dressing room, an act that drew a 15-game suspension from the NHL.

All of which brings us to this exchange Sunday between Oates and members of the media following the Caps’ morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

Question: Did you catch the Vancouver-Calgary game?

Adam Oates: I did. Tough to miss it.

Q: Do you have any particular thoughts about what transpired?

AO: I have a lot of thoughts about it.

Q: Could you share those?

AO: I probably shouldn’t.

Q: When that happens, do you feel the need to match that?

AO: It’s hard to say what you’re going to do at the time until it happens is probably the best way to answer that.

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