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Thom Loverro: Rangers' angry coach John Tortorella comes to town to face Capitals

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The Rangers come to town Thursday for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference first round series against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, and that means the return of Mr. Warmth, the hockey coach who looks at a bottle of Aquafina and sees a weapon -- the Angry Man, John Tortorella.

The Angry Man has been back to Verizon numerous times since he went after Capitals fans in the 2009 playoffs at Verizon, squirting fans with water and throwing a bottle into the crowd after being harassed by Capitals fans.

There haven't been any water attacks since -- he was suspended for the next game -- but the Angry Man still puts on a show, usually in his postgame press conferences, and you can count on it heightening on the playoff stage.

There is nothing quite as entertaining as the contempt Tortorella shows for the media.

This isn't Bill Belichick monotone kind of contempt. This is attack mode, such as after a loss to Buffalo earlier this season, when he mocked the media, started asking his own questions and then answered questions by saying he wasn't going to answer them.

Sometimes the Angry Man spreads the love to opposing teams, like last year after a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, when he called Sidney Crosby a "whiny star" who played for "the most arrogant organization in sports." (Of course, that will endear him to Capitals fans).

And sometimes the opposing coach is the target of his wrath, such as last year after a brawl between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils led to a screaming and cursing war between Tortorella and New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer at Madison Square Garden.

"I guess in John's world, you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can't do the same here," DeBoer told reporters after the game. "He's either got short-term memory loss or he's a hypocrite."

I wonder what kind of bouquets the Angry Man will have for Adam Oates, who was on that Devils coaching staff.

When the Angry Man was coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, he went off on Philadelphia Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock after a post-practice media season during their Eastern Conference finals series.

"He should shut his yap," The Angry Man said about Hitchcock. "It's not about him. ... Park your ego and shove it in your pocket. It's wrong and it's chicken [expletive]."

Hitchcock responded, "It's smart. It's change the record, change the subject and get people pointed in a different direction."

Yes, there is a method to the madness.

Comcast SportsNet analyst Alan May, who once played for Tortorella, said on my show on ESPN980, "The Sports Fix," that it's all an act to put the pressure on him and take it off his players. May said the Angry Man is closer to a pussycat privately and a good communicator with his players.

A phony jerk? That makes me angry.

Examiner

columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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