After Vancouver Canucks coach was given a 15-day suspension for game misconduct, many fans threw their support behind Vancouver’s bench boss. But when a local T-shirt making business tried to capitalize on John Tortorella’s penalty, they got the short end of the stick from the team.
Canucks coach was disciplined for the altercation outside the Calgary Flames dressing room at the game in Vancouver Saturday night.
Within minutes of the suspension being announced, hashtag #FreeTorts was trending on Twitter — with fans trying to make their frustration known to the league.
The hashtag got a boost from Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who was one of the first people to Tweet it.
So two Vancouver entrepreneurs decided to take it a step further and make “Free Torts” T-shirts.
The shirts have an image of Tortorella pointing his finger and “FREE TORTS” in capital letters written on it.
They were retailing for $20 each and resonated well with the Canucks crowd, and not just in Vancouver. The shirts sold as far south as Georgia and as far east as new Brunswick.
But the T-shirt makers have now been told to shut down by the Vancouver Canucks organization.
On their website FreeTorts.com, they say, ”[We] got a phone call from somebody from within the organization. They want us to stop selling shirts. Apparently supporting the coach is poor form around here. So…we will not be selling any more shirts.”
Site founders 29-year-old Treven LePage and his friend Dan say the team threatened to take their case to the NHL.
“That [the league] had a ton of people there who would like nothing more than to make an example of us,” says LePage.
Last night, they Tweeted,
— Free Torts (@realfreetorts) January 24, 2014
The Vancouver Canucks issued the following statement to Global News:
“It’s absolutely great when the community gets behind the team. It’s the kind of thing that can start traditions like the playoff towels. We love this gentleman’s passion but he was using the likeness of a member of the Canucks to generate personal profit so we unfortunately had to ask him to stop.”
But LePage says they broke even at best, and sold just shy of a hundred shirts.
He says they also managed to raise over $100 for The John & Christine Tortorella Family Foundation. One dollar from the sale of each shirt was directed to the charity.
The remaining T-shirts will be donated to a Downtown Eastside shelter.
Watch: Canucks brawl with Flames, Tortorella rages