According to Ranger Rants:The National Hockey League announced Saturday that New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has been suspended for one game for squirting a fan with water and throwing a water bottle that struck a fan during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series with the Washington Capitals on April 24 in Washington.
The incident occurred 6:33 into the third period.
Tortorella will miss the Rangers' game Sunday afternoon against Washington at Madison Square Garden.
"While it is a difficult decision to suspend a coach at this point in a playoff series, it has been made clear to all of our players, coaches and other bench personnel that the National Hockey League cannot -- and will not -- tolerate any physical contact with fans,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "We do not take this action lightly. It is the result of an entire day of investigation and evaluation that included the retrieval and review of videotape of the incident and discussions with Mr. Tortorella, other Rangers' bench personnel and a number of other people, including the security personnel at the Verizon Center.
"That investigation revealed that Mr. Tortorella squirted a fan with water before Mr. Tortorella was doused with a beverage.
"While, in these circumstances, it always is easy to allege mitigating circumstances, the fact is we do not tolerate contact with our fans in this manner. That is communicated before each season in a memo that is issued by the League to all of the management, coaches and players of every team.
"The Sept. 8, 2008, memo, entitled 'Supplementary Discipline Reminders for the 2008-09 Season,' included the following section regarding Contact With Fans:
Even where a fan is verbally abusive, intoxicated, or profane, club personnel should either ignore the conduct or, where appropriate, seek the assistance of police or security personnel at the arena. This prohibition extends to all forms of physical contact, whether it be direct physical contact, the throwing of objects (including hockey sticks and other equipment) or even the squirting of water. While the latter form of conduct may have, in the past, seemed to be of a minor or harmless character, such conduct may serve only to incite and provoke an unruly fan and may ultimately lead to unforeseen consequences.
Accordingly, please be on notice that all Club personnel (management, coaches, trainers, and/or players) who engage in any form of physical contact with fans, including the squirting of water, will, on a going forward basis, be subject to discipline in the form of a suspension. The Club involved will also be subject to a fine.
The suspension was issued pursuant to the Commissioner's authority under Section 6.3(j)(1)(a) of the NHL Constitution.
That's what appeared to happen from all of the video footage that was shown on TV last night. But, I just watched a TSN video and they made it sound like Tortorella was being suspended mainly because he squirted water at the heckler first. Will this hurt the Rangers chances tomorrow? In my opinion the Rangers need to win this game or they are in major trouble going back to Washington for a 7th game!
Got an e-mail today from a reader who said he was in the stands near that situation. According to the reader (and, remember, none of this is confirmed, verified, etc.), the whole thing was started by a Capitals fan who was cursing at Tortorella through the glass, including personal stuff about Tortorella's family. Tortorella, according to the e-mail, asked security to watch the heckler but, during a stoppage, the fan got some liquid on Tortorella through a separation in the glass. That's when Tortorella lost it and squirted liquid back and later threw a water bottle into the stands.
Again, that version is not confirmed but it does make some sense based on the video we saw last night.