John Tortorella

John Tortorella is going to the All-Star Game

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Just when John Tortorella thought he was out of marquee NHL events, they pull him back in.

The Rangers bench boss clinched one of the 2012 All-Star Game coaching gigs by virtue of New York’s overtime win against Florida last night. That guaranteed New York a higher winning percentage than Philadelphia by the Jan. 9 deadline — while the Rangers could still be caught by the Bruins, head coach Claude Julien was already on his way to the ASG by winning the Stanley Cup last season.

So, Torts is in for one of the league’s premier festivities.

This should prove sufficiently awkward given what transpired at the Winter Classic. There, Torts used another of the NHL’s largest stages to call the refereeing “disgusting” and insinuate the officials and NBC were in cahoots to send the game to overtime, which totally wasn’t true. (*tugs collar awkwardly*)

That cost Torts $30,000 in fines and a public apology, so my guess is we won’t hear him railing against fan voting or the fantasy draft format in Ottawa. ‘Cause hey, nobody wants to taint the All-Star Game with their mouth.

[PHT Notes: The race for the spot next to Torts on an all-star bench is still up for grabs. Five Western Conference coaches — Alain Vigneault, Joel Quenneville, Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock — are still in the mix.]

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)