WASHINGTON, DC -- After witnessing a putrid performance from his New York Rangers in a 4-0 loss at the Washington Capitals, Rangers Coach John Tortorella arrived at the podium in the Verizon Center press room with a short fuse.
"No questions?" he said after a few seconds. "Then ask the damn things. I'm not going to stand up here and look at you."
On his decision to scratch maligned Rangers winger Sean Avery for Game 5, and then witnessing the kind of undisciplined and detrimental play that sent Avery into street clothes for the night: "I'm not going to explain it in this forum. It's my decision."
But the most uncomfortable moment came when Tortorella was asked about an incident with some Capitals fans behind the Rangers bench during the game -- an incident captured by TSN cameras (video).
What the cameras didn't capture involved a beer being allegedly dumped on Tortorella. But what's certain, based on video from the arena, is that Tortorella threw a water bottle over the glass from the Rangers' bench into the stands. Here is video shot inside of Verizon Center showing Tortorella hurling a water bottle at fans:
A reporter asked Tortorella about the incident with the fans. Tortorella responded: "Ask me a question about the game."
The reporter continued, asking for elaboration: "Did you throw a water bottle?"
Tortorella: "Ask me a question about the game."
At that point, the Rangers media relations handler threatened to end the press conference if another question addressed the fan incident. It was an understandable bit of caution, considering a stick-toting Tortorella had been captured on national television and any comments about a case potentially reviewed by the NHL were better left unsaid.
Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau was unaware that the incident had occurred, and wondered what the delay was about. Did Boudreau ever have something like that happen to him during his minor league days? "I can't even remember. But I was in 'Slap Shot,'" he said.
Game 6 between the teams is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in New York. Hopefully Boudreau won't need an umbrella.