NEW YORK - The New York Rangers will be without coach John Tortorella for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Washington Capitals.
Tortorella was suspended for one game Saturday night for squirting a fan with water and throwing a water bottle that struck another fan during Washington's 4-0 win in Game 5 Friday night. The first-year Rangers coach will sit out Sunday afternoon's game at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
"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 director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement.
A league investigation revealed that Tortorella retaliated after a fan doused him with a beverage six minutes into the third period. After throwing the bottle, Tortorella grabbed a hockey stick and gestured into the crowd before he was subdued.
"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," Campbell said.
The Rangers had little to say.
"We disagree with the suspension and will have no further comment," the team said in a statement.