Head Coach John Tortorella charging the Calgary Flames
Photo credit: CBC

Brian Burke Unveils The Truth Behind John Tortorella's Charge Into The Calgary Flames Locker Room

Published January 20, 2024 at 5:57 PM
In a memorable moment from the modern era of the National Hockey League, then Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella made headlines in January 2014.

John Tortorella Loses His Mind And Charges The Flames Locker Room

During a game against the Calgary Flames, Tortorella seemingly lost control, attempting to confront Flames head coach Bob Hartley in the locker room. The incident became widely discussed and led to a 15-day suspension for Tortorella.

Former NHL executive Brian Burke, who was with the Calgary Flames at the time, recently shared insights into the real reason behind Tortorella's outburst during an interview on the 32 Thoughts Podcast.

Burke revealed that there had been a longstanding animosity between Tortorella and Hartley, but the key trigger for Tortorella's emotional reaction was a deeply personal matter. According to Burke, Tortorella's son, serving as an Army Ranger equivalent to a Navy Seal, had been deployed to the "Sandbox" (Afghanistan or Iraq) that day. Tortorella was anxiously awaiting a call about his son's deployment, adding immense stress to an already tense situation.

"John Tortorella, he'll be furious with me for telling you this part of the story, but his son is an army ranger... the equivalent of a Navy Seal," began Burke on the 32 Thoughts Podcast. "His son is an Army Ranger and he was deployed that day to the 'Sandbox' as they call it, Afghanistan and Iraq. They weren't sure where they were going... they just know they are leaving for the Sandbox... so he ended up waiting for that call that day and he was tighter than a piano wire for that game and I'm not surprised that he just couldn't take it."

Burke emphasized that Tortorella's emotional state was influenced by this personal turmoil rather than just the on-ice events. Despite their professional rivalry, Burke expressed empathy for Tortorella's difficult circumstances and expressed relief that the suspension wasn't more severe.

"John Tortorella is a good guy, and I'm glad he didn't get more," acknowledged Burke.

January 20   |   191 answers
Brian Burke Unveils The Truth Behind John Tortorella's Charge Into The Calgary Flames Locker Room

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