SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Tortorella sorry for mouthing off

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella walks off the ice following their loss to the Montreal...

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella walks off the ice following their loss to the Montreal Canadiens during NHL hockey play in Montreal, Feb., 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella apologized Wednesday for sounding off about the officiating at the Winter Classic and hinting at a conspiracy to send the game into overtime.

"I tainted the Classic with my mouth," Tortorella said after the Rangers practised Wednesday. "It was wrong with my sarcasm and frustration and I apologize to everyone involved."

The Rangers defeated the Flyers 3-2 in Philadelphia but needed goalie Henrik Lundqvist to stop Danny Briere on a penalty shot awarded with 20 seconds left.

"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said after the win. "For two good referees, I thought that game was reffed horribly."

In his apology Wednesday the Rangers coach said: "They were sarcastic comments by me at the wrong time, and it was frustration on my part. Not for a second, in no way, time, shape or form did I think anything like that goes on with our league, or ever will.

"For me to question the integrity of the league, the integrity of NBC, the integrity of (referees Dennis LaRue and Ian Walsh), the Flyers, the Rangers ... there's not a chance I am thinking that way."

Despite the apology, Tortorella was expected to be fined as much as $10,000.

GR-EIGHT EXPECTORATIONS

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin denied Wednesday he spat in Columbus forward Derek Dorsett's face during a game Saturday night.

Dorsett made the allegation Tuesday to the Columbus Dispatch.

"No, no, no," Ovechkin told the Washington Post after practice Wednesday. "I don't know. Show me that moment, I want to see it. No."

Ovechkin and the Blue Jackets' Dorsett were penalized after they jostled in the second period.

"He's supposed to be a role model for the game," Dorsett said of the alleged spitting incident. "It's unbelievable ... I don't know if he meant to do it, but the bottom line is he did it and it's disgusting."

NEW AILMENT FOR DIPIETRO

Rick DiPietro, who is on injured reserve with a groin injury, has suffered an additional lower-body injury, according to the New York Islanders.

The goaltender, who has suffered a litany of health woes in recent years, was expected to accompany the Isles on a trip to Anaheim and Phoenix to get some work in this week but instead was sent home for a medical evaluation.

The 30-year-old has played just eight games this season and 47 over the past four seasons.

He has missed time this season because of a concussion, while in 2010-11 he suffered groin and knee injuries as well as facial fractures during a goalie fight with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Brent Johnson.

BLUES SALE BREWS ANEW

The NHL has opened the door for minority owner Tom Stillman to purchase the St. Louis Blues after terminating Matthew Hulsizer's purchase agreement.

Financing issues put a halt to Hulsizer's bid, reported to be worth $130 million, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"Now it's up to Stillman and his team of local heavy hitters" to take over the Blues, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

Hulsizer signed a purchase agreement last October and was to have closed the deal by the end of the year -- a league-imposed deadline. Hulsizer was unable to restructure the financing in time to meet the deadline, sources said. Nonetheless, he is expected to renew his effort to buy the team.

Hulsizer, a Chicago businessman, previously tried to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes.

Stillman is chairman of a St. Louis-based company that distributes beer.

PANTHERS ADD MADDEN

Veteran centre John Madden, who hasn't played since April, signed a one-year contract Wednesday with the injury-riddled Florida Panthers.

A three-time Stanley Cup winner, the 38-year-old gives the Panthers experience and strength on faceoffs and penalty killing.

The unrestricted free agent had 12 goals and 13 assists last season with the Minnesota Wild. He joins a Florida team that has not made the playoffs since 2000 but leads the Southeast Division.

Madden won Cups with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and 2003 and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.


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