Tortorella apologizes for comments

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Rangers coach John Tortorella and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist talk about the Rangers 3-2 win over the Flyers. Videojournalists: Mario Gonzalez, Robert Cassidy (Jan. 2, 2012)

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The NHL said last night that Rangers coach John Tortorella has been fined for his comments following Monday's Winter Classic game against the Flyers. A league source said the fine was $30,000.

Tortorella had complained about several calls late in the Rangers' 3-2 victory, specifically the penalty shot awarded to the Flyers' Danny Briere with 19.6 seconds left (saved by Henrik Lundqvist), citing decisions by referees Dennis LaRue and Ian Walsh as "disgusting."

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

This is not the first time Tortorella has been disciplined by the league. In 2007, after a loss to Atlanta, Tortorella -- then coaching Tampa Bay -- was fined $10,000 by the NHL for comments he made critiquing the officials. He also was fined $1,000 for criticizing a referee in a Lightning-Flyers game in 2002.

Earlier in the day before the NHL took action against him, Tortorella apologized for his comments

"I was wrong," Tortorella said, describing the remarks as "tongue-in-cheek," when he wondered if the league and NBC might have conspired to create a dramatic overtime finish.

"I tainted the Classic with my mouth," Tortorella told reporters after the Rangers' practice session yesterday, "and I shouldn't have. So I apologize to everyone involved."

Yesterday, Tortorella admitted to frustration over the third-period calls but, he said, "Not for a second, no way, shape or form would I think anything like [a fix] goes on with our league, or ever will.

"Please, I want to get that straight. They were sarcastic comments by me at the wrong time. For me to question the integrity of the league, the integrity of NBC, the integrity of Denny and Ian, the Philadelphia Flyers, go right down through all the people involved, there's not a chance I'm thinking that way. I was wrong, and I apologize to everyone involved."

The coach and his players also were not selling any alibis about handling the danger of a letdown against Florida tonight at the Garden.

"Obviously, it's going to be a little different going back now to a normal season after all the hype with HBO and the Winter Classic," Lundqvist said. "It's a challenge to bounce back, but we're not going to have any excuses."

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