Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Caps modify glass at arena
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals plugged the gaps in the glass to help separate the fans from John Tortorella. That didn't stop spectators from finding other ways to needle the New York Rangers coach.
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Two fans seated behind the visitors' bench held up printed signs featuring a six-pack of water bottles and the words "Torto's Ammo" at Tuesday night's Game 7 of the first-round series. Six fans in the section wore red ponchos, and another fan at the Verizon Center held up an umbrella emblazoned with the words: "4 U, Torts."
The signs and ponchos were fine, but the Capitals took substantial precautions to avoid a repeat of the nasty exchange that led Tortorella to be suspended for Game 6 of the series. Workers installed seven I-shaped, Plexiglas stanchions to fill the 1-inch spaces between the panes of glass behind the visitors' bench. The Capitals were also on alert for the possible need for extra security personnel in that area of the stands.
On Friday, the last time the teams met in Washington, Tortorella squirted water at fans and tossed a water bottle into the crowd during the third period of the Capitals' 4-0 Game 5 victory.
After the NHL announced that Tortorella would be suspended for Sunday's Game 6, the Rangers sent a letter to the league, asserting "gross negligence" by the Capitals in response to "egregious fan misconduct." The letter said spectators behind the visitors' bench used obscene language and spit on team personnel and that the arena's security personnel did not act on requests to intervene.
Team spokesman Kurt Kehl said the team has not decided whether the measures would remain in place for future games.