Flames coach Hartley fined $25,000, held responsible for ‘premeditated fight’

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Moments after suspending Canucks head coach John Tortorella for 15 days (six games), the NHL fined the target of Torts’ ire — Flames bench boss Bob Hartley – $25,000 for “conduct prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League.”

“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.

On Saturday, the Canucks and Flames engaged in a line brawl two seconds into the contest. Hartley started Westgarth and fellow tough guy Brian McGrattan, which infuriated Tortorella (who responded by icing NHL penalty minutes leader Tom Sestito.)

Tortorella proceeded to scream at Hartley during the first period and, during the intermission, went into the Calgary dressing room tunnel to get after the Flames’ coach. Tortorella is now forbidden from having contact with his club until Feb. 2.

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 and company. “They got a goal last game. We’re not scoring many goals. We had zero intentions there.”

Hartley’s fine is in a similar vein 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.

Related: Torts reform: NHL suspends Tortorella 15 days — six games — for antics vs. Calgary