Rangers Coach John Tortorella expressed regret Wednesday for his comments after the N.H.L. Winter Classic. Tortorella had suggested the game’s on-ice officials may have conspired with the league and NBC with a goal of sending the game to overtime or a shootout. After the Rangers practiced Wednesday afternoon, Tortorella began his news briefing by asking for some time to clear the air. “I tainted the Classic with my mouth,” Tortorella said. “It was wrong with my sarcasm and frustration, and I apologize to everyone involved.”
The apology did not come in time to avoid a fine from the N.H.L. in the amount of $30,000, according to a league official. “There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the league, its officials or its broadcast partners,” the N.H.L. senior vice president Colin Campbell said in a statement. “People can disagree with calls by officials on the ice, but even in instances of the utmost frustration, there is no justification for speaking as inappropriately and irresponsibly as Mr. Tortorella did.”
After the Rangers’ victory at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Tortorella was asked about some questionable calls by the referees Dennis LaRue and Ian Walsh in the final minutes of regulation when his team held a 3-2 lead. “I’m not sure if NBC got together with the refs and wanted to turn this into an overtime game,” Tortorella said Monday. “For two good referees, I thought that game was reffed horribly.” He also called the officiating “disgusting.” Tortorella said that he had apologized to several league executives, and that he would like to apologize to the referees, LaRue and Walsh, in person.