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Tortorella regrets rant, NHL defends referee decision


COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 2: Head Coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets reacts following a play during the first period of a game against the Calgary Flames on November 2, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella ripped into the NHL and its on-ice officials on Sunday following his team’s shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tortorella’s rage was directed at a clock mishap that saw an extra two seconds run off the clock in overtime, eventually negating what would have been a game-winning goal for Zach Werenski just before the buzzer.

The Blue Jackets went on to lose in the shootout --while also losing starting goalie Joonas Korpisalo to injury during the shootout -- enraging the team’s coach.

On Monday, Colin Campbell addressed the situation from the league’s side.

Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch has the entire statement (you can read it here) but the two most notable excerpts are these:

3) The penalty assessed is “too many men” which requires an assessment of the play, i.e. too many men. Kane received the pass, then the officials made an assessment of the player going to the bench and blew the whistle after deciding it was too many men on the ice. The whistle does not sound as soon as Kane touches the puck. It’s not a delayed high stick, trip, etc.

4) The on-ice officials can always adjust the clock if they feel it is required. The official timer can notify the on-ice officials that there are issues at any time from his perspective. Toronto can get involved if we see issues. Assessing when the whistle is blown is hard for us to do sitting in Toronto and not being in the building live.

That does not really offer much of an explanation as to why the time was not put back on the clock. But it seems pretty clear from Campbell that it was, in the eyes of the league, a judgment call.

The league also called Tortorella’s comments and press conference “unacceptable.”

Tortorella expresses regret

Tortorella made one more statement regarding the situation on Monday. He began his media meeting by expressing some regret for the way he handled it on Sunday.

“I’m not answering questions about last night. At least as far as how I handled myself after the game,” said Tortorella.

“I ask my team to be disciplined, and I think it’s quite honestly a big part of our loss last night, was the lack of discipline with our team. I think the coach followed through with lack of discipline after the game with you guys.”

“If I have a problem with something that has gone on in the game, with whom or with what, I think it needs to be handled internally and not in the public manner as it was last night. You need to understand that. So don’t ask me questions about it, I’m not going anywhere near it. You can ask about the game, anything you want. I owe you time today because I didn’t give it to you last night. But that is a total lack of discipline on my part.”

Tortorella also announced that Korpisalo’s injury is a knee injury and that is going to be “weeks” before he returns.

He has been a huge part of the Blue Jackets’ recent hot streak and climb back into playoff contention. Losing him is going to be a significant issue in the short-term.

More: Referee mistake costs Blue Jackets, sends John Tortorella into rage

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.