John Tortorella returns to the scene of his Game Five crime on Tuesday night when the Rangers and Capitals hook up in what should be a feisty Game Seven. It should be feisty because all Game Sevens are feisty, but there will be an added burst of feist because of what went down between Tortorella and the Caps fans on Friday night.
By now, you know all the particulars and probably read the letter the Rangers sent the league office complaining about the lack of security at the Verizon Center. That letter, with its complaints about foul and inappropriate language, is a bit laughable coming from a team whose fans aren't known for being particularly warm toward the opposition, but that doesn't mean that there weren't problems with security.
The letter specifically cites one fan, a gray-haired, bearded fellow, as inciting Tortorella's water bottle shenanigans. Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog caught up with the fan, Ron from Nevada, and heard his side of the story. He attests to the vituperative nature of many of the fans around the Rangers bench, though he says he wasn't partaking until later when he cozied up to a crack in the glass behind the bench and shared some thoughts with the coach.
"I leaned in to the little crack [in the glass], and I didn't yell and scream, I just said it very calmly," Ron told me. "I leaned into the crack and I said, 'Nice job coach, your guys put up 15 shots and your [slang term for cats] couldn't even put in a goal.' And then he just went crazy."
From his days in the Cap Centre, Ron said he was accustomed to coaches spritzing rowdy fans with water bottles, and when Tortorella turned, that's what he anticipated. But he said Tortorella crossed a line by soaking him with water.
"If it had been just a little squirt I would have just laughed it off, but he just went crazy and darn near emptied that bottle on me," Ron said. "After he emptied that bottle on me I just threw that beer. Well, it was half a beer....And it just went crazy from there."
Who knew there was such a fine line for water squirting among those who expect to get squirted with water. It's important to know these unwritten rules of heckling.
Ron thinks Tortorella should have been suspended for more than one game, but the same is true of whoever runs the security operation at the Verizon Center. Watch the video, via Puck Daddy, of the proceedings post-beer toss and see how many security personnel are coming to escort Ron from the building. You'll have to watch closely, though, because they're invisible until well after the damage is done.
Tortorella was totally out of line when he threw the water bottle and deserved his suspension. The sad thing about the whole situation is that nobody was right, nobody acted like an adult and the situation could have been a lot worse. Hopefully steps were taken to make things smoother for Game Seven, because the tenor of the game ensures that everyone's going to be close to the line from the opening faceoff.