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Report: Nathan Horton accused of throwing a water bottle at Lightning fans

May 26, 2011, 2:41 PM EDT

David Krejci, Nathan Horton AP

As endearing as it was to see the Tampa Bay Lightning win Game 6 with such a spirited effort, a lot of the good feelings were ruined by a dispiriting showing by fans. Lightning fans made a misguided show of affection by showering the St. Pete Times Forum ice with noise-making devices that were called “rally drums” but looked like some evil manipulation of tennis rackets. (Hopefully the Lightning brass will do away with that promotion if the Lightning make it to the Stanley Cup finals or the franchise could suffer further embarrassment.)

Apparently that already-ugly situation was even worse than it looked, at least if one report is correct. Mike Corcoran of Lightning Insider posted two videos that seemingly capture* Nathan Horton throwing a water bottle at Tampa Bay fans.

It’s unclear what the NHL would do if Horton did, indeed, throw a bottle at fans. While these situations are far from equal, it brings to mind a few situations in the past.

  • Rick Rypien received a six-game suspension for essentially grabbing a Minnesota Wild fan. Obviously, that offense was more serious than Horton’s alleged water bottle toss.
  • John Tortorella earned a one-game suspension for Game 6 of the New York Rangers’ 2009 series against the Washington Capitals for squirting a water bottle and throwing it at a Caps fan. Here is what Colin Campbell said about the incident at the time.

“While it is a difficult decision to suspend a coach at this point in a playoff series, it has been made clear to all of our players, coaches and other bench personnel that the National Hockey League cannot — and will not — tolerate any physical contact with fans,” league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said in a statement last night. “We do not take this action lightly.”

That stance could be referenced liberally if the Horton footage is given legitimate credence.

It seems like Horton’s situation is most similar to what happened with Tortorella, but there are some differences. Tortorella is a coach, so one could argue that he is held to a (slightly?) higher standard than a player. The footage of Torts having a problem with the fan was far more official than the patchwork video evidence as well. There also might be more concern about suspending a player versus suspending a coach, especially since that suspension would come during a game that would decide which team represents the East in the Stanley Cup finals instead of a first round match.

There’s no guarantee that the league will need to address this situation at all since the evidence might be deemed shaky, but we’ll let you know if something happens. It’s an ugly situation for both sides: players must keep their cool and fans need to at least have a modicum of respect for the opposing team.

If there’s one silver lining to this story, it’s the possible end of those dopey rally drums (or whatever they are called) in Tampa Bay. If this somehow leads to the demise of Thunderstix too, then Horton’s work might transition from an embarrassment to indirect public service.

* – I use the phrase “seemingly capture” because it’s difficult to make a lot of the action out in the grainy video.

  1. aschwartz2011 - May 26, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Let me first say I am a big Lightning fan.

    Let me second say that I do not think Horton should be suspended for this. A fine might be in order but this does not deserve a suspension.

    Reading this article does upset me though. Not about the incident but your terrible excuse for reporting. There is a video that shows a guy picking something up off the bench and throwing it at the fan. The video continues by showing the security guard grabbing a water bottle back from that fan. Another video shows the act of picking up the bottle from a different angle. You are a joke of a reporter, or a biased observer, if you try to deny the incident itself.

    If anything deserves league attention it should be Krejci’s late hit after the game was over. The leagues lack of action after game 1 was absurd. Now you have one of the same guys doing it again?

    But we all know nothing will come of this because big daddy Campbell has to protect his sons team.

  2. thebucfather - May 26, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    “Seemingly capture”????? Are you serious O’Brien???? While this video isn’t in HD, you can cleary make out the Bruins player grab the water bottle, spray the fan, then throw it at the fan. It’s clear as day!!!

    Why even cast doubt on the facts that this video shows? Why attempt to protect Horton?? Nice job at reporting guy…..pretty disgraceful, even if you don’t agree with what the Lightning fans did, you have to admit that video “clearly” shows a player spraying a fan with water then tossing it at him.

    But like the above comment says, there will be no penalty b/c Campbell will protect his sons team. Shame on the NHL and shame on you O’Brien. Bad form!

    • cannonblast14 - May 26, 2011 at 8:12 PM

      Campbell does not make decisions on anything that has to do with the Boston Bruins. There is no protection because he cannot do anything.

      • hystoracle - Jun 1, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        but he makes decisions on all the other teams and has his underling make decisions on the Bruins. At the least, you have two mind sets and view points applying the rules. Where’s the consistency in that? And why would you be harsh on the team your boss’ son plays for? Campbell is in a position he doesn’t need to be in. There needs to be someone in charge with no horse in the race who can be unbiased and rule on ALL the teams and their indiscretions. That will eliminate all these problems.

  3. worldofswank - May 26, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    The only who should be suspended is the marketing team of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Who thought it was safe idea to pass out sizeable plastic noisemakers? Before you dismiss this comment, think about a small child sitting in the lower level getting beaned by a racket from the upper deck.

  4. thebucfather - May 26, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    One more thing O’Brien….I was at the game and it seemed that all the people that were throwing their give aways on the ice were Boston fans that were around me!!!! Sure some lighting fans joined in, but once the final horn blew, the group of Boston fans in front of me launched their give aways on the ice. In my opinion it was the few hundread Boston fans in attendance who, much like their team, were sore ass losers so they threw stuff on the ice and threw water bottles at fans.

    The only mistake we made in Tampa is letting opposing fans have a “give away” item.

    • nolesshabitual - May 26, 2011 at 6:19 PM

      either you guys couldn’t turn out for a playoff elimination game or it wasn’t the Boston fans doing the throwing. there were 1000’s of those things on the ice. A team that’s been there before gives away posters or towels not potential missiles.

      • mrnimziki - May 26, 2011 at 7:20 PM

        A team that’s been there before? Where you even alive the last time you team was “there?”

      • mrnimziki - May 26, 2011 at 7:56 PM

        *Were/your ;-)

  5. worldofswank - May 26, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    and “thebucfather” – Campbell recuses himself from any disciplinary hearing involving the Bruins. If you think the Bruins get an unfair treatment, consider the NHL’s suspension of Paille (Campbell’s linemate) vs the handling of Cooke and other players. Downie’s hit on McQuaid warranted a consideration for a fine etc. (should have been a major in the game) and nothing happened – leaving one’s feet to board someone from behind without the puck is pretty egregious.

  6. worldofswank - May 26, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    right it was the Bruins fans throwing the giveaways at their own team? Cut it out you shufflebard playing homer.

  7. thebucfather - May 26, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    @worldofswank. The Bruins weren’t throwing stuff at their fans, they were throwing it on the ice b/c they are sore losers and vented their frustration.

    It’s two peas in a pod. The players throw waterbottles, the fans throw whatever they can get their hands on. Pretty much expected from scumbag Boston players/fans.

  8. derpdederpdederp - May 26, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    playoff hockey is intense and there is a lot of hostility directed towards you as the visiting team, more than most of us could deal with before we would snap like horton allegedly did

  9. grudenthediva - May 26, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Love how people try and cry about this when you can clearly see the things were thrown at all portions of the ice, not just at Boston fan.

    Yet after Game One, when bottles and cups were being hurled at the Lightning players, no one said a peep. Hypocrisy at its best, you chowder slurping beaners.

    • nolesshabitual - May 26, 2011 at 6:16 PM

      Really Carlos Mencia? “beaners?” wow, at least get your slurs right.

  10. bostonhasrealhockey - May 26, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    There is not a single person in new england that respects a single “fan” of any tampa sports teams. Its all a big joke, huge lightning fan give me a break im glad you finally started to watch hockey but please leave the hockey talk to people who have been watching the game longer than your sun tan team has been in the league. They have to give you idiots shirts and devices to make you sound and look like a real crowd but we all know that is a long shot, so please put down your pina colada put your flip flips back on and do the cha cha slide to a different sport.Horton should have pissed on them.

    • aschwartz2011 - May 26, 2011 at 4:20 PM

      Just because your team has been around longer doesn’t make you better fans. My father is from Boston and I grew up in Florida with a hockey stick in my hand.

      Every fricken team in the country gives out shirts and other give-aways. It is called publicity. I am sure that the noise-makers had a sponsors logo on them.

      Thank you for sending Vinik down from Boston to save us from OK…now go back to your hole…

  11. jpelle82 - May 26, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    the lightning should be penalized for their fans being retarded and disrespectful. horton should be too

    • aschwartz2011 - May 26, 2011 at 4:22 PM

      Have you ever been to a pro-sporting event in Tampa? The fans are so much more respectful than anywhere else I have ever been. Fenway fans weren’t horrible, but I had beer thrown on me at a Bruins game (they were playing Montreal and I was wearing a Tampa jersey) 2 years ago. I will say that Boston fans are better than Philadelphia fans, but to call out Tampa fans for being disrespectful is a joke.

      • jpelle82 - May 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        yeah throwing things at the opposing team after a win is real respectful.

  12. govtminion - May 26, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Both fan bases are doing a fine job here of making me glad that I don’t live in either city.

    • aschwartz2011 - May 26, 2011 at 5:25 PM

      New Yorker??

      • govtminion - May 26, 2011 at 8:05 PM

        Honestly? Diehard Bruins fan living in D.C.

  13. bostonhasrealhockey - May 26, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    I didnt say tampa “fans”were disrespectful i said we dont respect tampa and the reason they are so respectful because they dont care why they are there its a party to them they care nothing about the game or the history of it and to the other idiot they dont give us any thing in boston to be loud they know we dint need them and it DOES matter how long your team has existed , your whole team was built as a publicity stunt and still is one. Original six fans know the difference

    • aschwartz2011 - May 26, 2011 at 5:23 PM

      I was responding to jpelle82 regarding his claim that the Lightning fans were disrespectful.

      I am glad you have been around since the Original Six formed, what was it like watching Eddie Shore play back in the day. All of this “our team is older we are smarter routine is crap.” I am not going to lie, there are more fans in Boston than in Tampa, you are a bigger market, and you do have history. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t big fans in Tampa. I love the Lightning, and I would put my hockey knowledge against pretty much every Bruins fan my age.

      Oh, and if you don’t mind me asking, when was your last cup? 20 years before the Lightning were ever around. And you have what 2 since WWII? I would venture to guess that I have been alive for more Lightning Stanley Cups than 60% of the people at Bruins games.

      I love Boston, and I will probably end up living there at some point in my life. Unfortunately I probably wont be able to bring my kids to games because I have to worry about the scumbag “fans” in Boston. Throwing beer does not make you a good fan.

    • mrnimziki - May 26, 2011 at 5:40 PM

      @Bostonhasrealhockey, I understand you came through the Massachusetts public school system, but please at least make an effort to form sentences like an educated person.

      “There is not a single person in new england that respects a single “fan” of any tampa sports teams.”

      -Since when does anyone care about having the respect of New England residents about anything? Cute how you put fan in quotations, I see what you did there. Typical Boston fan argument however. Funny, I don’t remember Boston having a “fan base” until 2004. Should I get into the whole “Red Sox Nation” card you pay $10 a year for? Not only is your fan base filled with morons, but ownership knows it and can get you idiots to pay $10 a year for a card saying you’re a “true fan.” This of course didn’t happen until after 2004. Why is this? Simple, because they wouldn’t have made a dime before then.

      “im glad you finally started to watch hockey but please leave the hockey talk to people who have been watching the game longer than your sun tan team has been in the league.”

      -“Sun tan team”? God you’re dumb. I think you’re being a little disingenuous whe…sorry, sorry…I think you’re lying when you say that you’re glad we finally started to watch hockey. C’mon, be honest.

      “but please leave the hockey talk to people who have been watching the game longer than your sun tan team has been in the league. They have to give you idiots shirts and devices to make you sound and look like a real crowd but we all know that is a long shot, so please put down your pina colada put your flip flips back on and do the cha cha slide to a different sport.”

      -Someone’s upset about game 7. Just because you’ve had to sit around watching your team miss the Cup for the past 40+ years doesn’t make you better fans. Clearly, you’re more frustrated, which is understandable. Plus you have to wake up every morning knowing you live in Boston, and while I’ll never truly understand that frustration, I can sort of get why it must suck. As for the shirts and “devices” they give us “idiots,” it’s called a “promotional giveaway.” Most teams do it, and not just in hockey. Kind of like the shirts the Celtics handed out before getting their butts handed to them by the Heat in the playoffs this year. Or like the singing Christmas ornaments the Bruins gave out in December. So I guess that makes Bruins’ fans idiots too (not that the existence of promotional items was needed to prove that). And don’t hate on flip-flops and pina coladas just because life in Boston sucks. Just because we can attend a football/baseball/hockey game at any time in the year in shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops and you can’t isn’t something to get upset about. Finally, your cultural references are so dated. We don’t Cha-Cha Slide anymore, it’s the Dougie. Everywhere you go in Tampa people are doing the Dougie in their flip-flops with drink in hand.

      -“Horton should have pissed on them.”

      -This quote summarizes Boston fan, thank you.

      “they are there its a party to them they care nothing about the game or the history of it and to the other idiot they dont give us any thing in boston to be loud they know we dint need them and it DOES matter how long your team has existed , your whole team was built as a publicity stunt and still is one.

      -We don’t care nothing about the game? Really? How can you write that and then have the audacity to use the word idiot in the same run-on sentence? Sorry, sorry…back on topic. How was our team built on a publicity stunt? Please, show me where this is written. You remember Phil Esposito? With your vast knowledge of hockey, I’m sure you do. Anyway, back when the NHL wanted to expand he, Phil Esposito, brought a team to Tampa. Must suck knowing Phil Esposito is not only the person responsible to bringing hockey to Tampa, but he now roots for us as well.

      “Original six fans know the difference”

      -Original six…and nothing since.

      • nolesshabitual - May 26, 2011 at 6:41 PM

        No Boston fans before 2004? That shows your ignorance right there. Boston fans were die hards when Tampa only had a winless football team. Lets see you guys turn out your pirate ship in a blizzard. You were all irrelevant before 2003 with the bucs, Before that it was the Rowdies in 1975 in SOCCER as your only pro champ. All 4 Boston teams popped their championship cherry before Tampa’s first one, in fact we had 27 in the four major sports by 2003, but we are johnny-come-latelys. That Red Sox Nation card you mention? Real fans look down on that and the people who have it in the same way we deride Tampa fans “front running pink hats.”

      • mrnimziki - May 26, 2011 at 7:41 PM

        Die hards? Please. B is for Bandwagon. I’m pretty impressed by your mentioning the Rowdies though, not bad. As for the relevancy of the Bucs, we could discuss defense and Tampa-2 (which came prior to 2003), but we’ll save that for another day. If we’re just talking championships then you’re right, it took our football team 16 years less than your Patriots to win a Super Bowl. so congrats. Actually, I would hope all your teams would “pop their championship cherries” (classy) before us given that your youngest team (Patriots) was formed 20 years before our oldest (Bucs). I would get into that, but I think aschwartz2011’s post below does a fine job. By the way, according to the OFFICIAL Red Sox Nation card, only true fans have the card. Hmm….

  14. miketoasty - May 26, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    This was the worst showing of fans I have ever seen. I don’t care Lightning or Bruin why the hell would throw plastic give a way items onto the ice? If you watch said “Grainy video” you can see the fans throwing their items at the Bruin players. Then as their walking down the run way people are using those items in the players ears, I know what its like to have loud noise makers right by my head and I would have been pissed off as well.

    Poor showing by Horton, worse showing by a lot of people in attendance that night.

  15. aschwartz2011 - May 26, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    hey nolesshabitual… How many of those 27 were you alive for.

    I am going to guess it was 0 from the Sox, 2 at most from the Bruins, probably quite a few from the C’s (we don’t have a basketball team), and 1 from the Patriots (I assume you mean before the Bucs won in 2002-2003).

    Lets make the cut-off 1950 (we could even go 1940 and it would only add one ring) since that is probably the mid-point for most fans who can afford tickets nowadays. So you had 53 years x 2 teams (Bruins, Sox) and 33 years of football (not counting the AFL Patriots to make it even nicer for you) = 139 seasons and 3 Championships (with a 30 year drought in between them). In Tampa we had 27 years of football, 12 years of hockey, and 14 years of baseball. So that is 43 total years. Congrats, you have more than 3x the number of seasons and yes you did get 3 rings to our 1. But considering you have a 106 to 26 year advantage on baseball and hockey, I would expect more.

    You sound like the Dodgers fans who are celebrating the 55 World Series Championship.

  16. demons87 - May 26, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    The Tampa fans at the game were wrong, and Horton was wrong.

    Regardless, my question is where was the Forum security in all of this? Why were there fans in the area of the ramp to the visitors locker room? It is not uncommon in football to see security stand where the players enter and exit duing a contentious game to protect the players. Also common in football is fans losing their season tickets for throwing things on the field. After this and the Rick Rypien incident, maybe these are actions that need to be taken in hockey to protect the players.

    As full disclosure, I am a Bruins fan living in Tampa and know people from both fan bases that went to the game. None of the fans I talked to said it was Bruins fans throwing the items (although I am sure a few were) and since these fans were in the 8th row, they said they were trying to avoid being hit themselves.

    The Tampa fans I have talked with are embarrassed by this display and I believe some Tampa fans are using Horton’s retaliation as justification for the poor fans actions. I’ve been to a bunch of games Lightning games this year (including both Bruins games to cheer on my boys) and I haven’t experienced any trouble in Tampa or seen any other opposing teams fans have any trouble.

    I beleive that a lot of the fans at the game are not the regular fans, so don’t judge all of Tampa fans by this poor display.

  17. cannonblast14 - May 26, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    Why is a water bottle thrown getting in the way of a game seven between two good teams? Yes, Horton shouldnt have thrown the water bottle. Yes, Tampa should not have given out those huge clappers. Not smart.
    Lets pay attention to the great hockey game coming up between two talented teams.
    Moving on…

    • govtminion - May 27, 2011 at 8:49 AM

      Amen to that. Horton screwed up, Tampa fans screwed up, and whomever came up with those noisemaker things screwed up. Let’s talk Game 7… remember, hockey? Anyone?

  18. tbfootballer - May 27, 2011 at 6:26 AM

    I love how everyone starts using grammar and sentence structure to pad their ridiculous arguments on these forums. What does that have to do with anything? But…for the record, don’t diss the MA public school system. If MA was its own country, it would be among the best in the world in test scores.

    • aschwartz2011 - May 27, 2011 at 8:00 AM

      If MA were….

      To be honest, I have terrible grammar and spelling. But if you are going to make a claim like that I think it is fair to hold you to a higher standard.

  19. govtminion - May 27, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Time to bury the hatchet once and for all. Bruins fans, Lightning fans, one of our teams is going to the Finals following tonight, and one of them is going home. We may not agree on any of this Horton stuff, we may hate each other’s guts right now, but can we find some common ground?

    Flyers Suck.

    Can we at least all agree on that one? ;)

  20. rodmunch2k - May 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    I was at the game — the reason the fans started throwing stuff on the ice was after the game was over yet another Bruin took did another sucker punch to a Lightning player. Nothing was being thrown on the ice before then, after that a ton of paddles were being thrown at the Boston players. I was too close to the glass to get any good heat on my throw, I was upset about that.

    As for the Bruin player if he tossed his water bottle into the crowd, which I didn’t see, I really could care less. They got hit with a few hundred paddles, I think a couple of fans can get splashed with some water — I’m happy with that exchange.

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