Corrigan Loses It Again

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.

Stewart “Popeye” Corrigan

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.”

Interview of the Week: Mutt Metheny

This week’s interview is with Seattle Sailors D Murphy “Mutt” Metheny.

SHL Digest: We’re here today with one of the SHL’s more colorful characters, Murphy “Mutt” Metheny.  Thanks for speaking to us today, Murphy.

Murphy “Mutt” Metheny

Murphy “Mutt” Metheny: Nobody’s called me “Murphy” since I was in diapers.  Call me Mutt.

SHLD: Okay, Mutt.  Where did you pick up that nickname?

MMM: Well, my mama says it’s because when I wanted something, I was like a dog with a bone, and I wouldn’t stop ’til I got it.  My daddy says it’s ’cause I was a real ugly baby.  They’re probably both right.

SHLD: Where are you from, Mutt?

MMM: I’m from Pickle Thicket, Arkansas.

SHLD: Pickle Thicket?

MMM: Yessir.  When I say that, everybody thinks I made it up.  But it’s a real place.  About a half hour from Little Rock.  Not that you’d find it on a map; it’s a little flyspeck of a place.

SHLD: Pretty small, huh?

MMM: There were about 300 people there when I was a kid, and it’s probably gone downhill since then.  There’s one stoplight, one gas station, three churches, and a half-dozen bars.  If you aren’t a drinking man, you can go down to the creek and watch the moss grow.  That’s about all there is for entertainment.

SHLD: You’re the only professional hockdey player ever to come out of Arkansas.

MMM: That’s right, but it’s also kind of a cheat.  We moved to Minnesota when I was about six.

SHLD: That must have been a culture shock.

MMM: More for them than for me.  Those Minnesotans didn’t know what to make of a big ol’ goofy kid who sounded like Forrest Gump.  But eventually I found out about hockey.  They made me a defenseman, probably ’cause they figured I was already dumb and ugly enough that a few concussions and missing teeth wouldn’t hurt me none.

SHLD: We’ve heard that you’re a collector.  What do you collect?

MMM: Keychains.  I’ve got over 10,000 of ’em.

SHLD: Wow!  How did you get started collecting those?

MMM: Well, my daddy was a long-haul trucker, and he’d be away from home for weeks at a time.  But every time he’d come home, he’d bring me keychains from all the places he’d been through.  When I grew up, I picked up the same habit.  Every time I’d pass through a new town, I’d get me a keychain or two.

SHLD: And from there, you built up to thousands?

MMM: Well, once word got around that I was a collector, people started sending ’em to me from all over.  I’ve got keychains from every state, every Canadian province, and a bunch of foreign places too.

SHLD: Do you have them displayed at home?

MMM: I had to.  My wife got sick of me filling up the garage with tubs and tubs of the things, so she told me I needed to do something with ’em or they were going straight in the trash next time I went on the road.  So I had a friend who’s a woodcarver make me a big wooden map of the USA, and I stuck the keychains from each state up on the map.

SHLD: That sounds cool!  Does your wife like it?

MMM: I dunno,  I think she might wish I’d just left ’em in the tubs.

SHLD: Do you have a favorite keychain?

MMM: Yup.  It’s a purple one from Miami, and it’s got a palm tree and a marlin and a sunset on it.  My daddy brought it back from a long haul he took in the dead of winter.  After that, every time I got cabin fever from the cold in Minnesota and I missed my daddy, I’d take that one out and imagine being out there on the beach with him.  It kept me from going crazy, or crazier than I already was.

SHLD: So, your Sailors have had a tough run after a surprisingly good start.  Do you think you can get it turned around?

MMM: Probably not.  I mean, we suck, so I figure we’ll probably keep sucking.

SHLD: Fair enough.  Thanks for one of the more interesting interviews we’ve ever had.

MMM: The pleasure’s mine.  Send me more keychains!

SHL 2017 Season Preview – West

Michigan Gray Wolves

The defending SHL champions return largely intact for the 2017 season.  They lost only one significant contributor in D Patrick Banks, who went to Washington in free agency (rookie Brooks Zabielski takes over Banks’ spot in the third pairing).  But the loss of Banks should be offset by the arrival of LW Todd Douglas, bumping struggling Travis Gauss to the bench.  While their offense – particularly LW Vladimir Beruschko – showed some signs of age last season, the Wolves’ dominant defense and the peerless goaltending of Dirk “The Bear” Lundquist remain as strong as ever.  And it seems unlikely that coach Ron Wright will let the team rest on its laurels.  So what could slow them down?  The West is a tough division; Anchorage and Dakota should put up strong challenges.  But the biggest risk this team faces is injury, particularly to Lundquist.  If their star netminder goes down for any extended period, is rookie Brooks Copeland up to the job?  The Wolves hope they won’t have to find out.


Anchorage Igloos

The Igloos have made no secret of their desire to get back to the form that won them the 2015 SHL title.  Have they made the progress they needed?  It’s possible.  The biggest new addition is LW Ben Summers, a 10-goal scorer with New York last season.  He replaced Misha Petronov, whom the Igloos let go after a disappointing season.  But Anchorage’s fortunes are likely to hinge on the performance of their youngsters and their stars.  The Igloos are moving LW Les Collins, who had a breakout 35-point season in 2016, up the second line; they’re depending on him continuing to blossom as a scorer.  Their third defensive pairing is also new, combining rookie Tony Citrone with Sebastian Pomfret, who looked solid in limited action last year.  If those three have strong seasons, Anchorage should do well.  But their title chances likely rest on the shoulder of sniper Jake Frost.  Last season, Frost put up 45 goals, which would be a fine year for most players but an off year by Frost’s standards.  Since he is the key to Anchorage’s offense, a return to his typical output would make the Igloos dangerous.  If he has another off season, they’re likely to come up short again.


Dakota Jackalopes

For 2017, the Jackalopes have a new name (they changed from the Rapids) and a number of new faces.  After a couple disappointing seasons falling well short of contention, Dakota’s hoping that combination will be enough to help them catch up with the Western powers.  They did more to improve themselves than any other contender, adding C Mike Rivera via trade and D Rusty Anderson in free agency.  They also acquired D Scott Hexton from Hershey to make their defense that much stouter.  While the Jackalopes will always be an offense-first club, they’re arguably stronger on both sides of the puck than they’ve ever been.  If they were in the weaker East, Dakota would be at least a co-favorite to win the division.  This is the West, though.  If there’s an area where the Jackalopes may come up short, it’s between the pipes.  They’re relying on a pair of young goalies, Buzz Carson and Christien Adamsson.  Carson, the likely starter, had an impressive rookie season in 2016, and clearly improved as the season went on.  But nobody considers Carson to be in the same class as Michigan’s Lundquist or Anchorage’s Ty Worthington.  If Dakota finishes out of the money yet again, they may wind up ruing the day the front office ran Jesse Clarkson out of town.  But if Carson can take another step forward, the Jackalopes’ high-octane offense would make them a dangerous team.


Saskatchewan Shockers

Last season was a tale of two halves for the Shockers.  In the first 30 games, the fine goaltending of Zeke Zagurski and the scoring punch of rookie winger Troy Chamberlain had Saskatchewan hovering around the .500 mark and attracting notice as a young team on the rise.  The second half saw a dramatic fall from grace, as the Shockers lost 11 of their final 13 games and 23 of their last 30, and the team suffered a string of embarrassing personnel incidents that suggested a franchise coming apart at the seams.  The team improved in the offseason, drafting C Elliott Rafferty and trading for veteran G Oliver Richardson to back up Zagurski.  But the Shockers clearly lag far behind the contenders, with a subpar offense and a mediocre defense.  As a result, there are far more questions than answers headed into 2017.  Is coach Myron Beasley’s job in jeopardy if the Shockers stumble out of the gate, or fade in the second half again?  Can the front office get its act together and run the team in a more professional manner?  Can the team’s slow but steady building plan ever lift Saskatchewan into contention?  Should they consider dealing Zagurski and other veterans and go for a hard rebuild?  Can the team last in Saskatoon, or will owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz be forced to relocate?  Will the team ever abandon its bizarre yellow-and-seafoam color scheme?  Can this team ever be a real contender, or will they forever be a poorly-run, mistake-prone joke?  It’s hard to know what the future holds for this truly strange team, but it’s safe to expect that there won’t be a ton of wins this season.


Seattle Sailors

The Sailors had a rough inaugural season, looking weak on both ends of the ice.  Their star rookie, RW Vince Mango, turning in a disappointing campaign, scoring only 33 goals and lacking the explosive shot that made him such a highly-regarded prospect.  The Sailors are likely to finish last again, so the 2017 season is all about showing signs of growth.  The team defied expectations to draft LW Rod “Money” Argent with the top pick in the draft; Seattle hopes that he’ll add some scoring punch to the top line and force opposing defenses to stop overloading on Mango.  The Sailors will be eager to see progress from Mango, Argent, and D Benny Lambert.  In a surprising signing, they added D Timothy “Cyclone” Winston to bolster their leaky blueline corps; the defense is still nowhere near Michigan’s level, but it should be better.  Last season, goalie Rocky Goldmire struggled and looked shell-shocked at times; a stronger defense should help him get more comfortable in the crease.  If Seattle’s going to become a contender down the road, they’ll need to see their young core come together and take a step forward.  They’ll also need to decide if volatile coach Stewart “Popeye” Corrigan has the temperament to be a leader of men.  Sailors fans should try not to fixate on the win-loss record this season; instead they should watch to see if they have a solid foundation for the future.

SHL Offseason Trade Summary

The following trades took place in the offseason before Season 3:

The Quebec Tigres made a huge deal at the top of the draft after their planned choice went awry.  The Tigres had planned to take scoring winger Rod “Money” Argent with the #2 pick, addressing their major shortcomings on offense.  But after the Seattle Sailors surprisingly drafted Argent with the first pick, Quebec found themselves with no obvious choice.  So they traded down, dealing the #2 pick to the Hamilton Pistols in exchange for the #5 pick, a second-round pick, and D Dmitri Kalashnikov. Hamilton sought the #2 pick in order to grab G Lasse Koskinen, who immediately became the team’s top netminder.  While Quebec did not wind up with an impact player of Argent’s caliber, they traded quality for quantity.  With the #5 pick, they plucked RW Rupert MacDiarmid, who put up 15 goals and 39 points in juniors last year.  In Kalashnikov, the Tigres added an elite and ferocious defender, whose 109 penalty minutes were the second-most in the SHL last season.  The Tigres used the second-round selection to nab D Hal Pugliese, who took Penn Tech to the NCAA tournament three times in his collegiate career.

The Dakota Jackalopes also dealt a first-round pick, sending the #6 selection to the New York Night along with C Phil Miller in exchange for C Mike Rivera.  The trade represents a bold gamble for both teams.  For Dakota, adding Rivera augments their high-flying offense, as the Jackalopes attempt to catch up with their division rivals in Michigan and Anchorage.  Last season, Rivera banged home 23 goals and collected 39 points with New York. He is expected to anchor Dakota’s second line this year.  For New York, the trade reflects new coach Nick Foster’s desire to build a more balanced club.  Although Rivera was a strong contributor on offense, he is widely considered a defensive liability.  Miller, who put up 18 goals and 30 points between Saskatchewan and Dakota in ’16, is regarded as more of a two-way player.  With the sixth pick, the Night grabbed goaltending prospect Sherman Carter, who recorded a 2.27 GAA and a .930 save percentage in juniors last season.  In addition to drafting Carter, New York signed the top free-agent netminder, Jesse Clarkson, to complete an overhaul of one of their weakest positions.

After the draft, the Night made a pair of deals aimed at improving their third line.  First, they swapped G Oliver Richardson to the Saskatchewan Shockers for the rights to G Hector Orinoco, then sent Orinoco’s rights along with F Dill Howlter to Hamilton for winger Andrei Volodin.  Richardson, who posted a 6-10-0 mark with a 4.37 GAA for New York last season, became expendable after the Night drafted Carter and signed Clarkson.  He represents an upgrade for the Shockers, who have struggled to find a solid backup for Zeke Zagurski since the league’s inception.  Orinoco played last season in the German league, where he record a 17-11-2 record with a 3.06 GAA.  He will likely spend the season in the minors for Hamilton, barring an injury.  The 25-year-old Volodin should bring a little extra scoring punch to New York’s third line.  He scored 18 goals and 34 points for Hamilton in the 2016 season.  The 20-year-old Howlter failed to record a point in 9 games for New York last season.

The Washington Galaxy sent longtime backup goalie Gus Parrish to the Seattle Sailors in exchange for F Yann Eberlein.  The deal was a bit disappointing for the fans, as Parrish was a beloved figure in Washington, adored for his boyish enthusiasm and flair for colorful quotes.  Last season, Parrish went 7-6-0 with a 3.21 GAA as the Galaxy defended their Eastern Division title.  But after Washington signed free agent Ron Mason in the offseason, Parrish found himself without a job.  Eberlein struggled in limited action with the Sailors last year, recording 2 goals and 7 points in 34 games.  Washington hopes that the 25-year-old Swiss forward can provide a solid presence off the bench.  The Galaxy suffered from poor third-line and bench production last season, as rookies Henry Van Alpin, Barry Sullivan, and Oliver Wallington all turned in disappointing campaigns.

The Jackalopes and the Hershey Bliss made a minor deal just before the start of the season, swapping bottom-pairing defensemen.  Dakota sent Pierre Chappelle to Hershey in exchange for Scott Hexton.  The Jackalopes were looking to strengthen their blueline corps a bit, and Hexton (3 goals, 12 points last season) grades out as an above-average defender.  On the other hand, the Bliss were looking to enhance their offensive production beyond their loaded top line.  Chappelle (5 goals, 20 points last year) provides an upgraded scoring threat relative to Hexton.  The 28-year-old Montreal native is on his third team in as many seasons; Dakota picked him up from Hamilton during last offseason.

Seattle D Finds Himself Unlikely Hero

Seattle SmallIt’s been a long season for the Seattle Sailors.  The team has struggled on both ends of the ice, and is on pace to finish with the lowest season win total in SHL history.  Practically the only time they make headlines is when their hot-tempered coach goes on a rampage.

Dean Humphrey

It’s also been a long season for Sailors D Dean Humphrey.  The lanky blueliner, nicknamed “Crazy Legs” for both his excellent speed and somewhat awkward-looking skating style, has spent the season on Seattle’s third line, where he has yet to record a goal (though he has 11 assists).  His most memorable moment this season came when he tripped over his own stick on a breakaway and fell down, costing the Sailors a shot at a goal.

Given the Sailors’ sad record and Humphrey’s unremarkable performance, the defenseman was surprised when he started seeing oversized renderings of his own head dotting the stands at Century 21 Arena in midseason.  And he was even more surprised when he started seeing a banner in the upper deck reading “Dean Humphrey Fan Club.”

“I mean, I’ve never done anything to deserve a fan club, really,” said Humphrey.  “And I didn’t think I really had any fans outside of my own family.”

At first, Humphrey assumed the sign must be a joke.  But upon further investigation, he discovered that he does indeed have a fan club — one that numbers over 100 members.  As unlikely as it seems, he is the first and to date only Sailors player with his own fan club.

The Dean Humphrey fan club was the brainchild of Kyle Winstrop, a college student and part-time barista from Bellevue.  He was inspired to create the club on the night the Humphrey tripped over his own stick.  “Me and my friends were in the dorm watching the game when that happened,” said Winstrop.  “And we all broke out laughing.  Like, this guy gets paid to do this, and he trips on his own stick?  He’s my hero!  We formed the Fan Club that night.”

While he admits that the Fan Club started as a joke, Winstrop said that his attitude shifted to genuine adoration over the course of the season.  “Crazy Legs is an amazing dude, man,” said Winstrop.  “If you saw him on the street, no way he looks like an athlete.  But he goes out there and plays anyway, and he doesn’t give a damn what you think.  We in the Fan Club admire that kind of attitude.  Watching him play and seeing him in interviews, you can tell he’s a freak at heart.  And Seattle is a town full of freaks, so he fits right in.”

Last Tuesday, the Fan Club showed up en masse to see their hero play against Michigan.  Humphrey met with them before the game, signing autographs and shooting the breeze with them for over half an hour.

“They’re a cool group of guys,” said Humphrey.  “We talked a lot about music and gaming and life in general, not just hockey.  It was a lot of fun to meet them.  It kind of proved that this whole thing is real, not just a big prank.”

Winstrop was similarly delighted by the meeting.  “We actually got to meet the man himself,” said the Fan Club president.  “And he was just as awesome as I imagined.  I can die happy now.”