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Tortorella Roasted for Removing Unsavoury Avery from Vanilla Rangers

Martin AverySenior Writer IApril 25, 2009

WASHINGTON - APRIL 24:   Head Coach John Tortorella of the New York Rangers battles with some of the fans of the Washington Capitals during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 24, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington,  DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella was roasted for removing an unsavoury Avery from the Vanilla Rangers in Game 6 of the first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals. He was also showered with beer.

Tortorella made two mistakes during Game 6 of the first round NHL playoff series against the Washington Capitals: 1. He got caught with too many men on the ice and 2. none of them were Sean Avery.

By removing unsavoury Avery from the Rangers mix, Tortorella turned the team into vanilla, again. Tortorella proved the Rangers don't need Sean Avery; they need two Sean Averys.

Avery was benched, or suspended one game, by Tortorella for taking bad or unnecessary penalties. Does that mean Tortorella will bench himself for Game 6?

Avery took several penalties in the series against Washington but they resulted in just one goal by the Capitals and did not make the difference in any of the games.

Removing Avery made the Rangers a different team and they lost a game in which the Capitals had no trouble scoring four goals.

Tortorella wanted to give Avery a strong message that undisciplined play could cost the Rangers a goal or even a game.

Benching Avery led to the Capitals scoring four unanswered goals and losing a game when they could have clinched a series. It may lead to them losing the series.

Tampering with the mysterious team chemistry of the Rangers showed that if you remove the catalyst, you turn them into vanilla. The Rangers were called "vanilla" before Avery rejoined the team but not after.

The Rangers added four ingredients in March to end their longest slump in decades and turn the team around just in time to make the playoffs.

If anyone was wondering which of those ingredients was needed most, they got the answer last night when New York lost to Washington 4-0.

The Rangers with Avery and Tortorella were called 'Averella' and seen as a two-headed monster. Chopping of one of the monster's heads took the anger out of the Rangers, leaving them the Rs, as in lose-R-s.

Sports reporters, columnists, and pundits were quick to remind Tortorella that the Rangers are a lot better without Avery and the team needs him back for Game 6 in the series in New York.

Bob McKenzie, writing for TSN.ca, said, "Avery's record is unbelievable. I don't pretend to understand it but this season, the Rangers are a .500 hockey team without Avery and a .660 team with him. That's the difference between a non-playoff team and a playoff team."

Avery's critics say he has a devil on his shoulder and the Rangers are a .666 team with him in the lineup.

"In Game 6, the Rangers were flat without Avery. Is there a connection?" McKenzie asked. The headline for his article provided a clue to the answer, proclaiming "Virtual Guarantee Avery Will Be Back In Game 6".

Mark Hermann, writing in Newsday, nailed it even more precisely: "Tortorella will take some heat for benching Sean Avery, mostly because it sure didn't work out," he predicted accurately. The Capitals had a revival, beating the Rangers, 4-0," he noted. "If the Rangers turn a near lock into a devastating series loss, the call will look horrendous in retrospect."

Reuters reported, "New York winger Sean Avery was conspicuous by his absence from the team line-up."

The New York Times was less timid, noting, "The Rangers managed only 20 shots on goal and generated little of the offensive-zone pressure that marked their performances in the first five games of the series.

"For all of Avery's undisciplined and often vicious penalties, he also applied ferocious fore-checking pressure."

Jeff Z. Klein, writing in the New York Times, said "The Rangers were flat" because they did not dress Sean Avery.

Damien Cox, writing in the Toronto Star, described Avery as Superman: "Sean Avery, dressed in a grey suit and black, Clark Kent-like spectacles, steamed through the corridor like a man late for a train.

Not faster than a speeding train, mind you, for even if Avery had wanted to play Superman last night, well, he wasn't even allowed to get into the proverbial phone booth."

(The Washington Capitals arena is often called 'the phone booth'.)

Rangers coach John Tortorella got into an altercation with a fan sitting behind the team’s bench in the third period, CBC Sports.ca reported. Tortorella threw a water bottle into the seats and grabbed one of his player’s sticks during the melee.

At some point during the incident, there was liquid spilled on the coach, and he had to wipe it off his suit jacket with a towel. Cox called it a "beer shower."

USA Today described the incident this way: "New York Rangers coach John Tortorella was seen on camera throwing a water bottle into the crowd during Friday's playoff game at Verizon Center.

"Down 4-0 late in the third period, Tortorella was seen throwing the green Gatorade bottle over the boards that separate the bench from the fans. Tortorella then grabbed one of his player's sticks before he was calmed by assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld."

You can see that part of the game on Toronto Sports Media at http://torontosportsmedia.com/sports-and-toronto/capitals-fan-give-rangers-coach/.

Somewhere, Rangers former coach Tom Renney was laughing or saying, "There but for the grace of God ...."

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