CALGARY — The three disciplined Calgary Flames made their apologies and head coach Bob Hartley called for a halt to the “tsunami in a fishbowl” on Wednesday.
Moving on from the benching of the team’s two top scorers the previous night was made easier by the fact it didn’t cost the Flames two precious points in the standings.
Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and rugged winger Lance Bouma watched their teammates eke out a 4-3 win Tuesday over a Toronto Maple Leafs team discombobulated by the trade of their captain earlier that day.
The three Flames were healthy scratches against the Leafs because they were late to Monday’s practice. There would have been more second-guessing of Hartley’s internal discipline had the Flames lost to the Leafs, given Calgary’s precarious playoff position.
“Elvis is dead, the Beatles have split and today is a new day,” Hartley told reporters following practice Wednesday. “I’m done talking about this. They didn’t rob any banks.
“We’ve moved past this. You guys are creating a tsunami in a fishbowl.”
The players in question issued their public mea culpas, however, before departing on a crucial two-game road trip that will include their fathers. It has become an annual rite for many NHL teams for players to have their dads along for a road trip during the season.
Gaudreau, 22, and Monahan, 21, play on Calgary’s top line and lead the offence with 49 and 35 points respectively. Bouma has missed a combined 35 games with injuries this season, but is a physical presence when he’s in the lineup.
“All our dads are here getting ready to go for the fathers’ trip and they were expecting to watch us play against Toronto,” Gaudreau said.
“We’ve got to pay the consequences. I think all three of us are really upset with ourselves. We really want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially and the city of Calgary and the fans.”
It wasn’t professional, Gandreau said.
“You never want to be in a position like this when your team is fighting for a playoff spot and you’ve got leaders in this locker-room that are trying to move us up in the standings,” he said.
Gaudreau and Monahan aren’t the only NHL stars to be punished for their tardiness this season.
Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz sat Alex Ovechkin on Oct. 13 because the Russian star was late for the morning skate. Ovechkin said he didn’t set his alarm properly.
The three Flames did not say why they were late to Monday’s practice. Hartley indicated his displeasure by calling the players into the corner for a lecture. The coach then abruptly left the ice to halt practice after less than half an hour.
“The other day we made a mistake and that’s the first and last time that’s going to happen,” Monahan said.
“We’d like to apologize to the fans especially, but to the teammates, organization and bring it back on track and be professionals and do everything the right way from now on.”
Said Bouma: “We made a mistake. We’re all human. Obviously it’s disappointing it had to happen and that everyone has to know about it, but it’s something that we’re obviously not happy about, we’re embarrassed about and want to move on from.”
It’s been a tumultuous week for the Flames. Defenceman Dennis Wideman met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Wednesday.
The NHL Players’ Association appealed his 20-game suspension for cross-checking and knocking down a referee Jan. 27. Wideman has served four games of his suspension.
The Flames (24-25-3) face divisional rivals San Jose and Arizona in back-to-back road games starting Thursday. Calgary’s road record this season is 8-14-3. Eight points out of a playoff berth in the Pacific Division, 10 back of a conference wild-card berth and with the NHL trade deadline looming Feb. 29, the Flames have reached a critical point in their season.
“Those are probably two of the most important games of our season,” Hartley said. “We have to recognize situations. This is a great situation for us. The dads are on the trip. Two huge games against two teams that are playing very well. We’re playing very well too.”