Tortorella won't discuss incident

Updated: April 28, 2009, 2:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Rangers coach John Tortorella threw a plastic drinking bottle over the glass and into the stands during a confrontation with a fan in the third period of New York's 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday night, according to multiple media reports.

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Tortorella and a man standing behind the Rangers' bench were seen yelling at each other with about 13½ minutes left in the game. After Tortorella heaved the green plastic bottle, he grabbed Aaron Voros' hockey stick and held it high, waving it in the fan's direction before assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld stepped in to calm him.

A TV replay of the episode did not show whether anything was thrown at Tortorella, but there were reports a cup of liquid was tossed over the bench at him, and he was seen using a towel to wipe off his suit.

League disciplinarian Colin Campbell had no comment when reached by ESPN.com on Saturday.

When asked by ESPN.com if the team would be issuing a statement regarding Tortorella, a Rangers spokesman e-mailed: "No."

Capitals' season ticket-holder Claudette Chandonia told The Washington Post the bottle Tortorella threw hit her in the head.

"He was losing and he was frustrated, I guess," Chandonia said, according to the report. "I couldn't believe it. I looked up, and he was throwing the water bottle -- and then it hit me right here, right in the head, and it bounced off me."

Fans in the seats around Chandonia confirmed the bottle-throwing and said Tortorella also squirted water through two panes of glass before throwing the bottle, according to the report.

"Good job by our fans. Our fans are one more player for us. They do what they have to do for us," Capitals star Alex Ovechkin said Saturday morning at the team's practice. "They scream and they're loud. Maybe it was too much to [throw] beer or water or whatever. But sometimes that happens. And maybe that's going to happen tomorrow against us, too. You never know."

[+] EnlargeJohn Tortorella
Len Redkoles/Getty ImagesRangers coach John Tortorella, at center, got into it with fans behind the bench during the Capitals' Game 5 win.

During his postgame news conference, the coach was asked what happened between him and the spectator.

"Ask me a question about the game. That has nothing to do with today," Tortorella replied.

Asked whether he threw a bottle, Tortorella said: "Ask me a question about the game, please."

At that point, a Rangers employee said the news conference would end if there were another question on that topic.

Verizon Center facilities president Gary Handleman said no fans were ejected, and the guard closest to the incident said no fans threw anything into the bench, according to the Post.

"Nothing was that unusual," said Alex Boyle of Baltimore, who sat in the same row as Chandonia, according to the report. "Obviously, some people were heckling. But no one was banging on the glass. The usher was right there, and when people were banging on the glass earlier in the game, he said, 'You can't do that.'

"And then I looked up, and he was shaking up a bottle, and he threw it."

Rangers players wouldn't discuss their fiery coach's faceoff with the fan in detail.

"When I looked over, Torts was turned and facing the crowd," Marc Staal said. "He might have gotten squirted or something. I'm not really sure."

The Rangers surged to a 12-7-2 regular season finish and into the playoffs after Tortorella, who led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup, took over for the fired Tom Renney on Feb. 23.

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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