John Tortorella Had Odd Response To Emil Bemstrom-Tuukka Rask Aftermath


Jan 14, 2020

Let’s get this out of the way: Emil Bemstrom is not a fighter.

His page is blank, and he’s never put up any head-turning penalty minute numbers in North America or elsewhere.

But there are times when, fair or unfair, guys have to answer for hits. You can think the *code* is antiquated, barbaric and stupid, and you might not necessarily be wrong. But the reality is it does exist, and Bemstrom’s elbow to the head of Tuukka Rask probably should have resulted in more of a response than it did.

Just over a minute after the game began, Bemstrom skated across the Boston Bruins goalie’s crease and caught him with an elbow square in the back of the head. Rask left the game and now has a concussion, but Bruins players noted following the 3-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets that they didn’t really know what happened at first.

For many, that changed when they saw the replay after the first period. Joakim Nordstrom told NESN’s Sophia Jurksztowicz during the first intermission that the Bruins were “pissed” about it, and when the Bruins came back out for the second period, they were marking Bemstrom pretty tight. Nordstrom ended up trying to scrap with him, but Bemstrom wanted nothing to do with it, and Nordstrom instead ended up tussling in a scrum with Pierre-Luc Dubois. For that, Nordstrom got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and Dubois roughing.

Brandon Carlo tried to fight Bemstrom in the second period, but, according to The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter, Bemstrom said: “I’m not doing it.”

With all of that in mind, enter Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, who offered a sort of weird response.

“I think it’s good for him to go through that a little bit,” Tortorella said about Bemstrom getting targeted a bit later in the game, via FOX Sports Columbus. “I mean, the league isn’t what it used to be when it comes to that stuff, but it’s good for him. And he stood in there, he didn’t bow his head, he stood in there and looked at people and played well, played a good hockey game. So, we kept him out the last few minutes, we don’t need anything going on there and I thought our team handled themselves very well around him.”

So, “standing in there” is relative, right? For some, that might mean exactly what Bemstrom ended up doing: listening to guys bark at him, then skating away. For others, standing in there would be dropping the gloves with someone like Nordstrom and then moving on.

Either way, the “good for him” lines come across as a bit tone deaf considering Bemstrom’s hit that concussed a player was what caused him to have to “go through that.”

Considering Bemstrom’s not a fighter, there’s a good chance he did exactly what Tortorella was looking for in the aftermath. However, the coach’s depiction of how the 20-year-old responded to the resulting attention he got from the Bruins seems a little off the mark.

Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images
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