NEW YORK — The league suspended Rangers coach John Tortorella for today's playoff game against the Capitals because he squirted a fan with water and threw a water bottle into the stands, striking a spectator in Washington on Friday.
Tortorella, the prickly former Lightning coach who replaced fired Tom Renney in February, will miss a game in which his team can clinch the first-round series. The Rangers lead 3-2.
The league said it was a difficult decision but Tortorella's actions in a 4-0 loss in Game 5 warranted a serious punishment. "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," league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said Saturday.
The Rangers said in a statement, "We disagree with the suspension and will have no further comment."
Tortorella, 50, got into a verbal confrontation with a fan behind the bench in the third period. A video replay showed the coach heaving a water bottle into the crowd. He then grabbed a stick and waved it in the fan's direction. The league said its investigation revealed that Tortorella squirted a fan with water before he was doused with a beverage.
Rangers assistant Jim Schoenfeld will replace Tortorella today.