Say what you will about Saturday night's line brawl between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks as long as everyone understands that it was Vancouver coach John Tortorella's temper that transformed it from an untoward display into a theater of the absurd.
We know that Tortorella's anger played a major role in what happened because he was still mad enough after the first period to be seeking retribution in the hallway by Calgary's dressing room.
Tortorella faces the possibility of a suspension because of his stunt, which was captured on video.
The Flames deserve some blame for what happened because coach Bob Hartley poked the bear by starting a tough guy line. It seems likely that Hartley will be fined for improper "player selection." That's how the NHL dinged former Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston during the preseason.
VIDEO: The line brawl
But here is why Tortorella bears more responsibility for the line brawl - and all of the responsibility for his actions between periods.
The Canucks are in a true battle right now just to get into the playoffs. They are 2-5-3 in their last 10 games, and areseventh in the Western Conference. The Minnesota Wild are tied with them, and the Phoenix Coyotes are four points behind.
As home team, Tortorella had the last line change. When he saw the tough guys starting, he could have defused the entire situation and given himself a competitive advantage by starting skilled players.
Tortorella said he couldn't start the Sedin brothers because he couldn't afford to put them at risk.
That's nonsense, and every fan, player and general manager knows that. There was zero chance that Brian McGrattan, Kevin Westgarth or Blair Jones would have laid a hand on one of the Sedins if Tortorella had started them.
That's not the way tough guys play. They know their place, and if the Sedins had started, the Calgary boys would have fled the ice the first chance they had. It's not in their job description to defend against the Sedins.
If Tortorella had started the Sedins, it would have been like a pseudo-power play until Calgary could change players. Given how tight the Western Conference is, that seems like an advantage Tortorella would want. That's what you would do in the postseason - or in regular-season games at this time of year.
One would guess that the Sedins would salivate at the opportunity of a matchup with McGrattan and Westgarth. You don't reach their level of stardom unless you have learned to skate around tough guys.
This is the NFL equivalent of having a dominant wide receiver lined up opposite an overmatched cornerback. When Peyton Manning sees that, he calls that receiver's number on a skinny post.
Tortorella could have taken the high ground and grabbed an advantage. Hartley would have been left being the bad guy. Instead, Tortorella sent out his tough guys, and all the non-goalies on the ice fought. Eight players were thrown out of the game. The NHL made all of the Sunday morning news shows for all of the wrong reasons.
Tortorella sent out his tough guys under the guise of protecting his players. You can't blame Vancouver players for dropping their gloves. They all knew that Tortorella didn't send them out to ask the Flames what they got for Christmas.
And for those who say Tortorella had to answer Hartley's challenge, the question is why? The Flames are going nowhere this season, and the Canucks are considered a contender. They have established fairly well around the league that they are not afraid to take penalties. They lead the NHL in major penalties and are second in total penalty minutes.
It's impossible to plead that Tortorella acted without anger when you see the video of him between periods. If he was still smoldering then, how angry was when he saw Hartley's lineup?
Tortorella has to be suspended because the NHL can't allow a coach go charging toward an opposing dressing. Only tough guy McGrattan's calmness in holding back Tortorella kept the situation from escalating.
It's fair to wonder whether Tortorella's emotional outbursts aren't sometimes calculated to fire up his team. Regardless, he has to be punished for giving the NHL a black eye without throwing any punches himself.
Follow Kevin Allen on Twitter @ByKevinAllen