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Rangers coach Tortorella fined by NHL for critical comments after Winter Classic

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Rangers coach John Tortorella was fined US$30,000 by the NHL for critical comments of the league and the officials in New York's Winter Classic victory over Philadelphia.

Just hours after Tortorella publicly apologized for his remarks, the NHL came down hard on the combustible coach Wednesday night. and the NBC Sports Network first reported the amount of the fine.

"There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League, its officials or its broadcast partners," said Colin Campbell, the NHL vice-president of hockey operations. "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."

Tortorella questioned several calls that were made and not made by referees Ian Walsh and Dennis LaRue late in the 3-2 victory Monday, including a penalty shot that was awarded to Philadelphia with 19.6 seconds left in regulation. Henrik Lundqvist stopped Danny Briere on the attempt, and the Rangers hung on.

Tortorella suggested that NBC, which televised the game, and the NHL might have been in collusion to get the game tied.

"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said Monday. "For two good refs, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I'm not sure what happened there.

"Maybe they wanted to get into overtime. I'm not sure if they had meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. I don't want to ... because they are good guys. I just thought it was, in that third period, it was disgusting."

Tortorella backtracked Wednesday, when the Rangers got back to practice following an off day. He said he spoke to Campbell on Tuesday and apologized to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

He added that he didn't call Walsh and LaRue to apologize because he feels those apologies should be made in person.

"Using the word 'disgusting,' I don't think was the proper way to go about it as far as talking about Dennis and Ian so I was wrong there," Tortorella said. "My tongue-in-cheek comments regarding NBC, the league, the refs as far as what's come about here. People thinking was it fixed? Are you trying to get it to overtime? Or that type of thinking, that was not even in my mind. They were sarcastic comments by me at the wrong time.

"It's frustration on my part as far as the referees were concerned and how it was done at the end of the game. So please, I want to get that straight. Not for second, no way, time, shape or form, did I think anything like that goes on with our league, or ever will. For me to question the integrity of the league, the integrity of NBC, the integrity of Dennis and Ian, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers, go right down through all the people here, there's not a chance I'm thinking that way."


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