San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused quite a stir this preseason when he decided to not stand for the National Anthem as a form of protest to racial inequality and injustices in America. It is a protest that has not only received both criticism and praise, but also one that a couple of other athletes (both within the NFL and outside of it) have since followed.
One place you probably will not see it happen is on a team coached by John Tortorella.
Tortorella was asked about that very situation on Tuesday by ESPN’s Linda Cohn and was very clear about how he would handle it. That player would not leave the bench for the remainder of the game.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” Tortorella said.
Along with his duties as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tortorella is also the head coach of the United States team at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, something that he obviously takes very seriously beyond what it means on the ice.
“It is hockey, but I also think it is a huge platform for us to represent our country, especially in today’s world, with everything is going on,” Tortorella said on Tuesday.
One player that seemed to have a disagreement with Tortorella’s approach was Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown.
Wouldn't benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap's point of oppression? But hey 🐸☕️ https://t.co/p6aUjXYlq4
Along with his plan to bench any player that does not stand Tortorella, whose son is an Army Ranger, has also pledged to stop referring to hockey games as “wars” and “battles” because of the new perspective he has because of his son’s service.
Marc-Andre Fleury set for return after getting taken off IR
Fleury hasn’t played since Oct. 13 when Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha collided with the 33-year-old as he drove to the net. Fleury was shaken up on the play but saw it through, picking up his first loss of the season after allowing six goals on 27 shots.
Fleury was solid in the crease in the four games he figured into, going 3-1-0 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average.
How long he will be on the shelf this time around is undetermined, but Schwartz won’t be evaluated for six weeks after blocking a shot off his right ankle in a 6-1 rout of the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
The injury bug hasn’t been kind to Schwartz’s ankles. During the 2015-16 season, he was limited to just 33 games after sustaining a broken ankle in practice.
The fresh diagnosis is a frustrating blow for Schwartz and the Blues, who have watched his line with Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen turn into one of the top trios in the NHL this season.
Through 30 games, the 25-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points, placing him second on the Blues, behind Schenn, and ninth in league-wide scoring, tied with Connor McDavid.
At his current pace, Schwartz, playing roughly 20 minutes a night, would have hit 98 points. And a little lucky bounce or two here and there might have propelled him above the century mark, setting career highs along the way.
But what’s probably most impressive about how successful the Blues have been this season is how they’ve been able to exceed all reasonable expectations despite dealing with a hefty number of major ailments.
The injury bug has been more akin to a foul beast in the Gateway to the West. From Robby Fabbri gone for the season with a torn ACL and Zach Sanford sidelined for months with a shoulder problem to Jay Bouwmeester missing 20 games to start the year and Steen missing the first six.
Not many predicted the Blues to be where they are in mid-December: second place the Western Conference standings with 42 points, just two back of top spot in the league.
And now the Blues, in the midst of a three-game winning streak, will have to navigate another injury to a key piece of their lineup.
They’ve shown the ability to overcome injury adversity before, but losing a key piece of your top six and a top scorer is never easy.
If anyone has the formula down, however, it’s the Bluenotes.
Already with a pair of Vezina Trophies in his trophy case, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky looks like he wants to add another one to his collection. Thanks to his 35-save effort on Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes Bobrovsky was able to record his league-leading fourth shutout of the season. His save percentage after Saturday’s game sits at .930, a mark that is tied for the top spot in the league (minimum 15 appearances) with Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.
Eight in a row for the Kings
It wasn’t easy, and they nearly let it slip away by giving up two goals in the final seven minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Los Angeles Kings extended their winning streak to eight games with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Tanner Pearson scored the game-winning goal in overtime.
Vegas Does It Again
Speaking of winning streaks, the Vegas Golden Knights were able to keep pace with the Kings in the Pacific Division by winning their fourth in a row with a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars. They have already put together two five-game winning streaks this season and have a chance to do it again. They are an expansion team. It is early December. They have a shot at three five-game winning streaks in their first season and are likely headed to the playoffs. This is all astonishing.
Highlight Of The Night.
The Colorado Avalanche blew out the Florida Panthers on Saturday night with a 7-3 win. It also produced the highlight of the night when Nathan MacKinnon cruised through the Florida defense and scored this absolute beauty to tie the game, 2-2. The Avalanche would score five more goals after that.
He made that look easy.
The Panthers were happy to help, it seems.
Factoid Of The Night.
If Mike Cammalleri could play all of his games against the Montreal Canadiens this season he would be unstoppable. His goal on Saturday night in Edmonton’s 6-2 win over the Canadiens was just his fourth of the season. Three of them have come against Montreal. In three games against the Canadiens (with two different teams — the Los Angeles Kings and now the Edmonton Oilers) he has five points in those games. He has just six points against everybody else in the league in 22 games.
Panarin Offers Another Helping Hand
With his assist on the lone Blue Jackets goal Artemi Panarin has now assisted on each of the past six Blue Jackets goals. He set up all five of their goals in the Blue Jackets’ 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. All six of those assists over the two games have been the primary assist on every goal. He is the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer with 26 points in the team’s first 30 games. He is eight points ahead of Josh Anderson, the second-leading scorer on the team.
The NHL’s department of player safety will have a couple of things to look at from the third period of the Boston Bruins’ 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night as the Bruins were assessed a pair of major penalties, including one that was accompanied with a game misconduct.
Let us start with the latter play.
Bruins forward David Backes was ejected with just under nine minutes to play when he was called for head-butting Islanders forward Andrew Ladd during the skirmish seen below.
Tavares seemed to be a little shaken up initially but remained in the game.
Marchand and the Department of Player Safety are quite familiar with one another and Marchand does have a history of suspensions and fines throughout his career, so it would not be a shock if he ended up getting a phone call this weekend from the league for that hit.
Marchand has become one of the best players in the league in recent seasons, a development that makes his repeated run-ins with the DoPS all the more frustrating.