Rangers Defend Coach, Want Caps Punished - NBC4 Washington

Rangers Defend Coach, Want Caps Punished

Team asks for "adequate security measures" in event of a Game 7



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    New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella battles with some of the Caps fans during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center in D.C.

    Is New York scared of coming to Washington? 

    In an e-mail to National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman, the Rangers ask that Bettman "consider appropriate discipline in light of Washington's gross negligence in ensuring the safety of the personnel on the Rangers' bench..."  The Rangers also ask for the League's intervention with adequate security measures in place to protect them "in the event there is a Game 7 in Washington."

    After their beloved coach John Tortorella was suspended Saturday for squirting water into the crowd and then tossing a green water bottle over the glass at Washington, the team came out with a short statement voicing their disagreement with the suspension, but "no further comment."

    They obviously had more to say.  

    In the e-mail, which was printed and then handed out in the press box at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers lay out the rest of their case: 

    "Neither the NHL nor either team has had the opportunity to conduct a full investigation or to interview all witnesses but the television coverage and the statements made by Rangers bench personnel make clear that Washington utterly failed in its security obligations to the Rangers, not to mention its own fans. The tension was evident from before the opening face-off. Throughout the game, several people seated immediately behind the visitors' bench took advantage of the looseness of the glass panels and the unusually wide gaps between the panels to assault the Rangers with some of the most obscene language imaginable. Because of the way the glass is installed, the patron sitting behind Coach Tortorella (the gray-haired, bearded man in the white T-Shirt) could literally scream into the coach's ear. According to Rangers trainer Jim Ramsay, one patron was screaming at the team, in graphic language, about whether Dan Girardi and Marc Staal have a sexual relationship. This was within earshot of several children seated nearby.

    ". . . Washington's failure to respond to what its personnel knew -- and were specifically warned -- was a potentially dangerous situation contributed significantly to this unfortunate incident. Accordingly, we respectfully request that you consider imposing appropriate discipline on Washington for its knowing failure to protect the Rangers and prevent the situation from deteriorating into an incident that reflects badly on all of us. In addition, we must immediately discuss how Washington is going to handle security for any Game 7. Neither the Rangers nor the well-behaved Capitals fans should be forced to endure the extraordinary level of fan misconduct that Washington failed to prevent in Game 5."

    In their message, the Rangers also suggest that the level of security at the Verizon Center is a bit lacking.

    Now we're not condoning bad behavior by fans at hockey games, but we always thought that New York was tougher than us.  

    After all, this is hockey.  Not exactly a softie sport.

    So buck up Rangers.  If you're lucky enough to play the Caps in a Game 7, we'll be here, ready and waiting with our water bottles.