April 26, 2009 / 3:05 AM / 8 years ago

Tortorella suspended for throwing water bottle at fan

<p>New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella watches the closing seconds of their game against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey series in Washington April 24, 2009.Molly Riley</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Rangers coach John Tortorella will miss Game Six of his team's playoff series against the Washington Capitals after picking up a one-game ban for throwing a water bottle at a fan, the NHL said on Saturday.

"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.

"We do not take this action lightly.

"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."

The suspension is blow to the Rangers, who hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final but have struggled to finish off the Capitals, who avoided elimination with a 4-0 victory in Game Five on Friday.

During that game at the Verizon Center in Washington, Tortorella became involved with fans behind the New York bench, squirting one with water before reaching over the protective glass and hurling the water-bottle at another spectator.

Writing by Steve Keating in Detroit; Editing by John O'Brien. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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