Burke questions NHL’s decision, ‘perplexed’ by Hartley fine

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Calgary Flames interim GM Brian Burke is none too pleased with the $25,000 fine given to his head coach, Bob Hartley.

“I am perplexed by this fine,” Burke said, per Calgary’s Twitter account. “I stand behind Bob Hartley completely in this regard and remain confident that he acted properly in every aspect of this game.”

On Monday evening, the NHL dinged Hartley for “conduct prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League,” based on his actions during a fight-filled affair against Vancouver on Saturday.

“We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames’ right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game’s opening face-off and attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent — the Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa,” the league said in a statement.

Hartley started Westgarth and fellow tough guy Brian McGrattan, which infuriated Vancouver head coach John Tortorella (who responded by icing NHL penalty minutes leader Tom Sestito.)

Earlier today, a report from The Province claimed Westgarth was sent out to start the game to “make something happen.” If true, that would contradict the story that Hartley told after the game regarding his choice of starting players.

“Those guys are playing well for us,” Hartley said of Westgarth, McGrattan and company. “They got a goal last game. We’re not scoring many goals. We had zero intentions there.”

Hartley’s fine is similar to the one levied to ex-Buffalo head coach Ron Rolston earlier this year. Rolston was fined an undisclosed sum for “player selection” during a preseason game between the Sabres and Maple Leafs, one that saw tough guy John Scott go after Leafs sniper Phil Kessel.

The Rolston fine wasn’t popular among several head coaches.

“So what am I supposed to do now?” an anonymous coach asked, per the Toronto Sun. “Do I call the ref over and call timeout so I can call (league vice-president of hockey operations) Colie Campbell and ask him who I can put on the ice?”

It’s worth noting Canucks GM Mike Gillis also issued a statement in response to Tortorella’s 15-day, six-game suspension:

“We respect the decision made by the National Hockey League today to suspend John Tortorella for 15 days from Sunday, with no contact with the team for six games. 

“We would also like to acknowledge our organization’s full support for John and we look forward to having him back behind the bench soon.”

Slightly different tone there.