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First call: Tortorella’s meltdown makes Penguins signing Jack Johnson worth it | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

First call: Tortorella’s meltdown makes Penguins signing Jack Johnson worth it

Tim Benz
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Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella took exception to comments made by newly signed Penguins player Jack Johnson.

In “First Call” today, we get more Tortsy than ever, we celebrate Bobby Bonilla day and we marvel with Evgeni Malkin at the Russian soccer save.


Torts Tirade

The cliché “profanity-laced tirade” is often overused. We read or hear that often when a sports figure verbally spouts off on a topic and they swear once.

But this was an actual profanity-laced tirade. It was a tirade. And it was profanity-laced. All over the place. This is like if Quentin Tarantino wrote a sports movie.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella melted down while speaking to “The Athletic” when he got wind of the comments made by Jack Johnson and Jim Rutherford upon Pittsburgh’s acquisition of the former Columbus defenseman.

Johnson talked about Pittsburgh’s “winning culture.” Rutherford brought into question why Columbus really scratched Johnson in the first place, inferring that it wasn’t about actual hockey reasons.

Tortorella was not fond of the dialogue. On the Tortsy-meter, a scale of 1-10, this is a 25.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson tried to clear the air.

The fact that Torts melted down like that makes the Johnson signing worth it already. Who cares if he sits in the press box behind Chad Ruhwedel his whole Pens career? Buy him out in March, for all I care. This is marvelous!

There’s no Corsi number to properly represent the importance of angering Torts.


Childhood dreams

John Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with his hometown team in Toronto.

He’s leaving the Islanders for the team he grew up backing, the Maple Leafs. We can gather that based on this photo he tweeted.

He’s right. Living out a childhood dream is rare. I had “Star Wars” sheets as a kid. I never got to become a Jedi Knight. I’m still bitter about that.


Kick save, and a beauty!

Russian soccer goalie Igor Akinfeev made this jaw-dropping kick save against Spain in the World Cup.

That was his second save on a penalty kick in the match, and it sent the Russians onto the quarterfinal. The game had been tied 1-1 after regulation. The result made Penguins star Evgeni Malkin very happy.

I’m not sure what that pose is all about. I’m told it has something to do with emulating a goal celebration from a Russian soccer player. Sort of the Russian soccer Zoltan, if you will.


Eli the Poet

Former Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers doesn’t want to give up on football. But if he does, maybe he can become a writer. He has a way with words.

Rogers, who tore his ACL in the Steelers postseason loss to Jacksonville, took that injury into free agency. As a result, he doesn’t have a team yet. But he posted this inspirational message on Instagram.

I love how Eli is getting all esoteric n’at about faith and God, his purpose beyond a physical state and “the magnitude of the space” he is about to enter.

Then he wraps up with how he is about to go “ape nuts.”

That’s quite the emotional and literary schism, is it not?


Happy belated Bobby Bonilla Day!

Yes, July 1 marked the latest Bobby Bonilla Day. That’s when we annually celebrate one of the worst contractual structured settlements in sports history.

It’s particularly funny in Pittsburgh, because Bonilla bolted the Pirates for big money after the 1991 season by going to the New York Mets. The Mets wanted to ditch him in 1999 but didn’t want to buy him out for the $5.9 million he was owed, so he agreed to deferred payments of $1.19 million every year between 2011 and 2035. If you want to know how this all went down, here is the history.

For the record, Bonilla is making more from the Mets than the Yankees are paying Aaron Judge.

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