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Blue Jackets Coach John Tortorella apologizes for exchange with Alex Ovechkin

“I thought he dove, and he took exception. I have no business making any gesture or saying anything to a player,” the Blue Jackets’ John Tortorella said of the incident. (Paul Vernon/Associated Press)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — After Columbus forward Matt Calvert was ejected for butt-ending Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin at the end of the first period, cameras caught Ovechkin and Blue Jackets Coach John Tortorella exchanging pleasantries in front of the Columbus bench before the second period.

After the game, Ovechkin seemed to laugh off the exchange. “We just talk about: ‘How’s everything? What’s going on?’ He’s a nice guy,” Ovechkin said with a grin.

But Tortorella expressed some regret over the incident.

“That’s my fault,” Tortorella said. “I thought he dove, and I signaled to him. I thought he dove, and he took exception. I have no business making any gesture or saying anything to a player. So that’s not on him. That’s just stupidity on my part.”

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Tortorella has a reputation for heated behavior on the bench. In 2014, when he was coach of the Vancouver Canucks, he was suspended 15 days for going to the Calgary Flames’ dressing-room area to confront their coaching staff about putting out an opening lineup of tough guys, which led to a line brawl. In 2009, as coach of the New York Rangers, he threw a water bottle into the stands during a playoff game in Washington. Tortorella and then-New Jersey Devils Coach Peter DeBoer had a few shouting matches across their benches during the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

The Capitals opened the second period of Monday’s game with a three-minute power play after Calvert’s infraction; the team couldn’t capitalize on it en route to a 5-1 loss. Ovechkin scored his league-leading 39th goal of the season on a power play in the first period.

Here’s the Calvert penalty that Tortorella took exception to:

“I don’t think he wants to do that,” Ovechkin said. “It was kind of a dangerous play. I almost lose my teeth. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but kind of a dangerous play.”

Read more on the Capitals and the NHL:

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