NHL notes: Tortorella lashes out at Thornton

Rangers head coach John Tortorella gives instructions to his players during a game against Sparta...

Rangers head coach John Tortorella gives instructions to his players during a game against Sparta Prague in Prague, Czech Republic, Sep. 29, 2011. (DAVID W. CERNY/Reuters)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella didn't take kindly to Joe Thornton calling his team "soft."

Told the San Jose Sharks forward said the Rangers were "probably the softest team we've played against" after Monday's game, Tortorella unloaded on Thornton Tuesday.

"It surprised me, and I've never heard a player say that," Tortorella told the New York Daily News. "Joe's a heck of a player, but here's a player popping off about our team, and Joe hasn't won a g-damn thing in this league. He could go down as a player, being one of the better players in our league never to win anything.

"So what he should do is just shut up. It was uncalled for, it was classless, and I've never had it happen like that before."

So, Torts, how do you really feel?

Thornton, for his part, uh, softened his post-game comments Tuesday, according to TSN's Darren Dreger. In a tweet, Dreger said Thornton told him "soft" was not the right word to describe the Rangers but he was frustrated losing to a team he felt the Sharks should have beaten.

PRONGER EYES RETURN

Philadelphia Flyers captain Chris Pronger could be back on the ice later this week.

The plan is to have Pronger, who has been out for more than a week with an eye injury and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, skate on his own for a day or two before returning to practice Friday. No date has been set for Pronger's return to game action.

"He's gotta get back to practicing with the team before we start going down that road," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told PhillySportsDaily.com. "He was out of danger on Friday, so now it's just the medicine that they put in his eye is keeping his pupil dilated, which is an issue. That's going down now, so his pupil is getting back to normal."

Pronger was hurt when he was clipped in the eye by the stick of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski on Oct. 24.

AVERY REJOINING RANGERS

Sean Avery will rejoin the New York Rangers at practice Wednesday after clearing re-entry waivers at noon Tuesday.

The agitating winger will be available for a game Thursday against Anaheim at Madison Square Garden.

Avery was waived by the Rangers in their final round of pre-season cuts and after going unclaimed was assigned to Connecticut of the AHL.

Coach John Tortorella did not guarantee Avery would play Thursday but he is a possible replacement for fourth-line winger Mike Rupp, who has a knee injury.

NO JUNIOR FOR JOHANSEN

The Columbus Blue Jackets won't be sending forward Ryan Johansen back to junior, at least for the moment.

But that doesn't necessarily mean Johansen, the fourth overall pick from 2010, is going to spend the entire season in Columbus. He will, however, stay with the Blue Jackets beyond 10 games, generally considered the cutoff point for junior-eligible players to be sent down.

"We have decided to keep Ryan Johnasen (sic) through the 10 game threshhold which means the 1st year of his contract will apply to this season," Jackets GM Scott Howson said on his Twitter account.

Johansen, 19, has two goals and two assists in nine games.

TIMES ARE A-CHANGIN'

The St. Pete Times Forum, home of the Lightning, will be renamed the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Jan. 1.

The St. Petersburg Times -- the newspaper which has had naming rights to the arena since 2002 -- will be known as the Tampa Bay Times as of Jan. 1.

The naming rights contract between the two has been extended through Aug. 31, 2018.

BRODEUR ITCHIN' TO PLAY

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur declared himself healthy Tuesday.

Brodeur has missed six games with a bruised right shoulder but said he was good to go against the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday if needed. Devils coach Pete DeBoer wasn't sure if he'd start Brodeur or Johan Hedberg against the Leafs, since the former still hasn't officially been cleared to play.

That said, DeBoer is happy to have Brodeur healthy again.

"I'm sure it gives you a lift," DeBoer said on the team's website. "Obviously, he may be the best goaltender of all-time and one of the leaders in the dressing room. I think just having him healthy, whether he's playing or on the bench, can definitely help."

KESSEL COOKIN'

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel was named the NHL's player of the month for October.

Kessel, the league's leading scorer with 10 goals and eight assists in 11 games, edged out a pair of goalies for the award -- Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars and Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers. Thanks in part to Kessel's hot streak, the Leafs hold down top spot in the Northeast Division with a 7-3-1 record.

Lehtonen has fashioned a 1.75 goals-against average and .947 save percentage while Khabibulin has a 5-0-2 record with a 1.12 GAA and .960 save percentage.

LINDROS GOING INTO HALL

The Big E now stands for education.

Eric Lindros, once a member of a Philadelphia Flyers forward line dubbed the 'Legion of Doom', works for a Waterloo, Ont., technology firm called ClevrU that allows foreign university students to access North American-quality content, including through their phones or other mobile devices. The product looks a lot like "Facebook for school."

"It's a smaller, start-up company," Lindros said. "It's a great platform for online and mobile learning, a bridge for education. You're looking at a lot of English as a Second Language and a target is places like China and Taiwan, where the kids have phones (but not necessarily the infrastructure).

"I haven't gone there (to the Far East), but I've been in some meetings that I never thought I'd get to be a part of. I'm not really a big techie by any means."

The 38-year-old will be inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame Thursday night.

BRIEFLY

The ECHL approved an expansion team for Orlando, Fla., Tuesday. The as-yet-unnamed team will begin play next season out of the Amway Centre (home of the Orlando Magic of the NBA) ... The Flyers called up forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and Ben Holmstrom from Adirondack of the AHL. They also sent down defenceman Matt Walker ... The Leafs sent forward Matt Frattin to Toronto of the AHL and called up forward Joey Crabb. In nine games with the Marlies, Crabb has seven goals and eight assists ... The Washington Capitals sent defenceman Sean Collins to Hershey of the AHL and called up forward Cody Eakin. In 10 games with Hershey, Eakin has three goals and five assists ... Devils forward Patrik Elias avoided being hurt when teammate Anton Volchenkov stepped on his ankle at practice. Elias briefly left the ice but returned before the end of the workout and later said his ankle was only bruised ... The New York Islanders sent forwards Trevor Gillies and Nino Niederreiter to Bridgeport of the AHL. Gillies cleared waivers to be sent down while Niederreiter, who has been out with a groin injury since the start of the season, is on a conditioning stint.

 


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