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NHL suspends New York Rangers coach John Tortorella, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, one game for playoff incident with Washington Capitals fans

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.

NHL suspends New York Rangers coach John Tortorella, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, one game for playoff incident with Washington Capitals fans 04/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2009 11:58pm]

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