Add New York Rangers' John Tortorella to Pittsburgh Penguins Growing List of Foes

By Stephanie Lewark

Since this was posted, the league has not only chosen not to suspend / fine Brooks Orpik for his hit on Derek Stepan during last night’s game against the NY Rangers, but they’ve decided that Tortorella went too far with his comments after the game and have fined him $20,000 (not sure how this supports anyone who still believes that the Penguins are somehow at fault).  SEE YOU IN THE PLAYOFFS!

Once again the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the focus of a coach’s discontent.

Seriously, what is going on with NHL coaches in the Eastern Conference / Atlantic Division throwing tantrums?  Is the pressure getting to them or do they really believe they can persuade the referees?  This is getting a little out of hand and pretty old rather quickly.

Less than a week since Philadelphia Flyers head coach, Peter Laviolette, and Penguins assistant coach, Tony Granato, get fined for their escapades in the last minutes of the game this past Sunday at the CONSOL, the firey head coach of the New York Rangers, John Tortorella, is voicing his unhappiness with Pittsburgh (more specifically, the Penguins organization).

After a knee-on-knee hit between Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik and Rangers centerman Derek Stepan within the final minutes of the third period, Tortorella quickly displayed his anger in a rather animated way (pretty much business as usual for Totorella).

However, it’s not only Orpik he directs his rant towards, he included the entire Penguins organization as well.

“That’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the League,” Tortorella said of the Penguins. “They whine about this stuff all the time. It’s ridiculous. But they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they? Starting with their two (bleeping) stars.”

When asked about it in his post-game interview, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma related the hit to one that occurred at the end of February between defenseman Kris Letang and Dallas Stars winger Eric Nystrom.  The hit injured Letang and kept him out of the lineup for the next five games.

“Kris tried to get out of the way and the hit was made, and it was somewhat of a problem for the guy giving the hit,” Bylsma said. “Brooks is on his (Stepan’s) path and is looking to hit the guy at an angle and he (Stepan) is definitely looking to get out of the way, and it creates that scenario.”

But my mind goes back  to several games ago between the Rangers and the Penguins when Mike Rupp had a knee-on-knee hit with star centerman Jordan Staal.  Was Tortorella in an uproar at that time?  Staal was out of the lineup for a total of 15 games with the injury he sustained from that hit.  Was he concerned for Staal’s well-being or how ‘dirty’ Rupp was to make that hit?  I doubt it.  Mostly because it was his team handing out the punishment and, realistically, sometimes these things are unavoidable (and we know Rupp isn’t a dirty player just like we know Orpik isn’t either).  Why would Orpik risk suspension or injury to himself being so close to the start of playoffs … anyone?

But before I continue, let’s take a look at the NHL’s Rule 50 for Kneeing:

50.1 Kneeing – Kneeing is the act of a player leading with his knee and in some cases extending his leg outwards to make contact with his opponent.

Orpik was assessed a major penalty as well as a game misconduct penalty as set out by 50.3 and 50.5:

50.3 Major Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the severity of the infraction, to a player guilty of kneeing an opponent (see 50.5).

50.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – When a player has been assessed a major penalty for kneeing he shall also be assessed a Game Misconduct.

And the Kneeing Rule goes on to discuss further disciplinary action with 50.6 Fines and Suspensions:

50.6 Fines and Suspensions – There are no specified fines or suspensions for kneeing, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).

Therefore, I would think if the play was so dirty and / or if Orpik was such a dirty player as Tortorella claims then there would be supplemental discipline taken and there hasn’t been.  He should’ve been more than satisfied since the referees applied the biggest penalty they could to Orpik and the hit when it realistically could’ve been a minor penalty that was assessed (as outlined by the rules above).

But quite honestly, it’s looking more and more like sour grapes with Tortorella in this case.  Think of the fact that the Penguins have beaten the Rangers in four consecutive of the last six matches they’ve had, so I’m thinking that this is what started Tortorella’s little tangent to begin with.  Especially since Pittsburgh’s [expletive] stars have nothing to do with the hit between Orpik and Stepan or the Penguins whining (I think Tortorella is the only one whining here).

Or perhaps, it’s the fact that he and his team have to back up the arrogant statements that the Rangers owner, James Dolan, and general manager, Glen Sather, have previously made (and seeing how the Rangers are having a hard time getting past the Penguins, they may just have given the team one huge task to accomplish; not to mention really great bulletin board material for Pittsburgh).

Just like with everything else, Tortorella needs to step back, take a breath, and use his head a little.  The Penguins as a team and organization are not whiners, are not dirty, and are definitely not arrogant, but I think the way Torts has acted could be considered just that and most definitely stupid.

Let’s all just calm down, take a deep breath, and just grow up.  The playoffs are less than a week away (let’s keep the ultimate goal in mind).

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