If there’s one thing Seattle Sailors coach Stewart “Popeye” Corrigan has become known for in his season-plus on the bench, it’s his explosive temper. On multiple occasions, Corrigan has boiled over at referees or opposing players, earning himself fines and suspensions in the process. The coach was at it again this week, getting himself ejected from a game after chucking his bench on the ice.
The eruption occurred in the 2nd period of Seattle’s game against the Michigan Gray Wolves. Already trailing 3-0, Corrigan and the Sailors became upset at a perceived imbalance in the calls. Seattle had just succeeded in killing off a 5-on-3 deficit when, with a little more than 2 minutes left in the period, LW Rod “Money” Argent was whistled for cross-checking. It was the sixth penalty called on the Sailors, against only one whistled on the Wolves.
The penalty on Argent sent Corrigan over the edge. “Coach felt like Michigan was already strong enough, and it wasn’t fair that they were getting the calls too,” said Sailors D Benny Lambert. “He started turning redder and redder.”
Corrigan directed a stream of obscenities at head referee Laurent Villiers, who largely ignored him. But when Wolves C Wesley Knight potted a power play goal 9 seconds later to make it 4-0, the Seattle couldn’t take it any more. He grabbed hold of one end of the wooden bench (causing several Sailors to scatter) and lifted it in the air before flinging it on the ice. He followed that up with three or four sticks, at which point Villiers ejected him from the game.
The SHL imposed a one-game suspension on top of the ejection. “The safety of our players and officials is paramount,” said SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell. “Flinging projectiles on the ice is unacceptable, as someone could easily have been hurt. This is not an acceptable way for a coach to express his frustrations, as Coach Corrigan well knows, given the number of discussions we have had about his behavior. It might be time for the coach to consider anger management counseling.”
The Seattle coach professed to be mystified by the suspension. “I mean, it’s not like I threw the bench or the sticks at anybody,” said Corrigan. “I made a point of hurling them at open ice. What’s wrong with bringing a little color and excitement to a blowout? And besides, I made my point.” Corrigan noted that the remaining four penalties in the game were all whistled on the Wolves. “I don’t think that was a coincidence.”