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Bobrovsky vs. Tortorella latest blast from NHL cold front | The Star

When Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky romped off the bench after being pulled by coach John Tortorella during Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay — sparking a heated exchange that led to team discipline for the netminder on Wednesday — it added to an unusually long list of fiery exchanges around the NHL this season. From Columbus to Ottawa to Dallas and Denver, the public infighting has exposed a side of pro hockey that is seldom seen. Here’s a closer look at some of them:

The Avalanche

Star centre Nathan MacKinnon could be seen mouthing “do your (expletive) job” from the bench in the direction of head coach Jared Bednar during Wednesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Flames in Calgary. Captain Gabriel Landeskog was sitting beside MacKinnon and held him back at one point. MacKinnon fell backwards off the bench, then got back up and resumed the rant. The Avs, who face the Leafs in Toronto on Monday, have lost eight of their last nine despite the production of perhaps the top line in the league: MacKinnon, Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. After a strong start, their grip on a playoff berth has loosened.

The Blue Jackets

Tortorella and Bobrovsky have had their differences for more than two seasons. On Tuesday, Bobrovsky was yanked after allowing four goals on 19 shots. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner also got the hook after allowing three goals on 16 shots against Carolina on Jan. 4. Bobrovsky is in the final season of a four-year deal with a $7.4 million U.S. annual cap hit — plus a full no-trade clause — and his future in Columbus is cloudy at best. The Flyers, who have used seven goalies this season, are probably drooling at the possibility that Bobrovsky will be available in free agency in the summer.

The Senators

In early November, Ottawa players Matt Duchene, Chris Wideman, Thomas Chabot, Colin White, Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo and Alex Formenton slammed an assistant coach over the team’s penalty-killing woes, among other things — unaware that their back-seat airing of grievances was being recorded by their Uber driver, who would later make it public. Anger about the invasion of privacy deflected some attention away from the apparent team turmoil. The driver later apologized.

The Stars

Candid comments by Dallas CEO Jim Lites in a late-December interview with The Athletic — calling out underachieving stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in particular — showed that the infighting doesn’t always start with the players. Lites invited the media into his office for the expletive-laden rant, sensational stuff that drew a response from the NHL players’ union. Benn and Seguin weren’t amused, but didn’t respond in kind. Seguin has six goals in his last four games.

Correction: This is an updated version of an earlier story that said Senators players complained about the team’s power play.

Mark Zwolinski is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @markzwol

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