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Kevin Westgarth had no intention of playing puck in opening faceoff

Flames tough-guy Kevin Westgarth and Canucks rookie Kellan Lain square off at the beginning of...

Flames tough-guy Kevin Westgarth and Canucks rookie Kellan Lain square off at the beginning of Saturday's game in Vancouver. (Carmine Marinelli/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:24 AM ET

CALGARY - Let’s get something straight — starting goons isn’t a crime.

Having them attack an opponent (or five) before the puck drops is.

Thus, the US$25,000 fine issued to Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley for setting the stage for Saturday’s line brawl was justified.

This space disagreed with fining Ron Rolston in Buffalo earlier in the year when he started John Scott, prompting Phil Kessel to go all Paul Bunyan. But since precedent had been set, it was obvious Hartley would also be fined.

If there was ever any doubt he should bear responsibility for the fireworks, keep in mind Kevin Westgarth’s gloves essentially hit the ice before the puck did, meaning he was either given instruction or a wink by the coach to do so or the coach has lost control of his players.

Either way, the league needed to come down on it.


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