Fans Need to Send a Message
NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell issued a one-game suspension to Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella for squirting a fan with water and then throwing the water bottle at the fan. And, despite the rantings of hockey buttheads like Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy fame, the situation was mishandled, as usual, by Soupy.
Wyshynski would have you believe that the punishment fit the crime, and that’s what you would expect from the usual lame analysis from Wyshynski . The true statement is that the punishment fit the financial objectives of the NHL.
From the outset, let’s make it clear, I am a long-time Rangers fan but I am not a fan of Tortorella. I openly condemn his actions. While a HUGE fine to Tortorella and the Rangers was in order, hockey fans need to understand two things. First is that a suspension serves the business interests of the NHL. Second is why Soupy must accept blame for mismanaging yet another incident.
Let’s examine Soupy’s “as usual” screw-up first. Even if you put aside Campbell’s well-documented inclination to stick it to the Rangers every chance he gets, there is an issue in law called proximate cause. Proximate cause refers to the specific action that ultimately results in an outcome. Lay people may understand the principal better from a related term called mitigating circumstances, which is actually justification for somebody responding in an incorrect manner.
There are no mitigating circumstances in what Tortorella did. His exchange with the Washington fans was totally unprofessional, unacceptable and contrary to everything he preaches. However, the proximate cause of the situation was the lack of response by Capitals’ security to complaints from Rangers’ bench personnel about spitting, cursing and threatening behavior from the fans near the bench.