Corrigan Melts Down, Earns Suspension

Seattle SmallSeattle Sailors coach Stewart Corrigan is quickly gaining a reputation around the SHL for his volatile temper.  That temper boiled over in a memorable way on Thursday as Corrigan exploded at a referee, earning himself an ejection and a forthcoming suspension.

“I was too young to see Mount St. Helens erupt,” said Sailors RW “King George” Lane.  “But now I know what it was like.”

Corrigan’s short fuse wasn’t a complete shock.  As a junior-league coach, he earned the nickname “Popeye” due to the way his eyes would bulge during frequent rants at referees.  But this was the first time the coach had gone “full Code Red” (to use his term) during an SHL game.

Stewart Corrigan
Stewart Corrigan

During the first period of Seattle’s game against the Dakota Rapids, the referees called several controversial penalties against the Sailors.  A call Corrigan thought was a clear tripping penalty against Dakota instead became a diving penalty against Seattle.  Less than 5 minutes later, Sailors D Joey “Pig Iron” Morris was whistled for a borderline high-sticking call.  Corrigan argued both calls to no avail, and grew steadily angrier as the period went on, barking at the referees as they skated by.

“You could kind of see him changing color,” said Sailors C Cliff Derringer.  “By the end of the period, he sort of looked like a tomato in a suit.”

Finally, with less than two minutes left in the period, head referee Ted Kowalski called a delay of game penalty on Sailors RW Yann Eberlein after he shot the puck over the glass, even though Eberlein and the Sailors vigorously insisted that the puck had tipped off a Dakota stick before going out.

This was too much for Corrigan to bear, and he yelled at Kowalski to come over to the Seattle bench.  Kowalski either didn’t hear Corrigan or ignored him.  The coach then stood on the bench and yelled louder.  Receiving no response, he began banging his hands against the boards to attract Kowalski’s attention.  Kowalski still didn’t come over.  Finally, Corrigan grabbed a roll of athletic tape and fired it at Kowalski, hitting the official in the helmet.

Kowalski whirled around, and Corrigan shouted, “Yeah, you can hear me now, you fat Polack [expletive]!”

Kowalski immediately ejected Corrigan from the game, and skated away as the coach continued screaming at him.  Corrigan grabbed an armful of sticks and threw them on the ice.  It took two players and assistant coach Mark Morganhurst to restrain Corrigan.  The crowd at Century 21 Arena gave Corrigan a standing ovation as he was dragged off down the tunnel, still shouting and cursing.

The league held a hearing on Saturday morning and announced that Corrigan would be suspended for two games and fined $5,000 for his actions.  “There is no excuse for coaches or players to attack a referee physically,” said SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell.  “Mr. Corrigan’s actions were dangerous and irresponsible.  Also, his ethnic insult was entirely inappropriate.”

At a press conference following the announcement of the discipline, Corrigan admitted that he had gone over the line.  “I’ve always had the Irish temper,” said the coach.  “Usually it takes a good bit of liquor to bring it out, but games can do it too.  Although I didn’t agree with the referee’s calls, that doesn’t give me license to throw things at him.”  Still, Corrigan couldn’t help but let a hint of pride creep in: “I will say I was pretty impressed with my aim.  He was, what, 30 feet away?  At least?  For me to bean a moving target from that kind of distance, I mean, that’s pretty solid.”

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SHL Offseason Trade Summary

The following trades took place in the offseason before Season 2:

Seattle SmallHamilton SmallThe expansion Seattle Sailors made a splash and landed some veteran talent to guide them in their inaugural campaign.  The Sailors acquired C Cliff Derringer, RW “King George” Lane, and D Hylton Windham from the Hamilton Pistols in exchange for first-round and third-round picks and F Elmo Jacobson.  In Derringer, the Sailors land a solid scorer (21 goals and 35 points last season) who is expected to anchor their top line.  Lane, meanwhile, is a capable passer (23 assists in 2015) who may be placed on the top line to feed Derringer and top draft pick Vince Mango.  Windham appeared in limited action for Hamilton last season, scoring 4 points in 22 games, but is best known for being the first native of the Bahamas to play professional hockey.  The Pistols are rebuilding under new coach Keith Shields, and the picks (which were used to draft D Clayton “Crusher” Risch and LW Norris “Beaver” Young) will help position the team for the future.  The 24-year-old Jacobson spent last season with Saskatchewan, for whom he scored 9 points.

Quebec SmallNew York smallThe other expansion team, the Quebec Tigres, made several moves after the expansion draft. First, they dealt RW Kenny Patterson and D Teddy Morrison to the New York Night in exchange for LW Pascal Royal.  The Tigres have made a point of acquiring as many Quebec natives as possible, and Royal certainly qualifies.  He will also provide the Tigres with a dose of badly-needed offense, having put up 15 goals and 40 points in New York.  Patterson is being reunited with his former club, as Quebec plucked him from New York in the expansion draft.  The winger scored 13 goals and 37 points for the Night last year.  Morrison was a gritty defender who spent last season with Washington, putting up 12 points in 56 games.

Quebec SmallSaskatchewan SmallThe Tigres also strengthened their blue line by acquiring Viktor Babykin, a rugged stay-home defenseman, from the Saskatchewan Shockers, along with F Alois Rodney in exchange for rookie D Brody “Bruiser” McCallan.  Babykin is known as one of the SHL’s meanest players, a man who never hesitates to drop the gloves and was one of the league leaders in penalty minutes last year.  His pugnacious personality also created some friction in the Shockers locker room, however.  The 21-year-old McCallan, the Tigres’ third-round draft pick, spent last season in the Quebec junior league, where he put up 12 points.  Rodney, who was the last player selected in the draft,  put up 6 points in limited action in the Swiss league last season.

Quebec SmallHamilton SmallIn their final deal, the Tigres picked up another left winger, Stellan Fisker, from the Hamilton Pistols.  Fisker put up 17 goals and 30 points for Hamilton last season.  The Pistols sent Fisker and the just-acquired Jacobson to Quebec in exchange for a pair of rookies, LW Magnus Gunnarson and the aforementioned Rodney, and a second-round pick in next year’s draft.  Gunnarson, who was selected in the second round by Quebec, scored 15 goals last season for Lake Erie State.

Hershey SmallAnchorage SmallThe Hershey Bliss and the Anchorage Igloos struck a major deal on draft night, with the Bliss sending G Riley Lattimore to the Igloos in exchange for RW Sven Danielsen.  Lattimore began last season as Hershey’s starting goalie, but struggled and wound up losing playing time to backup Milo Stafford.  Lattimore finished the season with a 12-18-1 record with a 3.70 GAA, as the Bliss stumbled to a disappointing third-place finish in the East.  He became expendable after Hershey picked netminder Buzz Carson in the second round of the draft.  Lattimore will serve as a backup in Anchorage, who lost their former second-string goalie, Ron Mason, to Seattle in the expansion draft.  Danielsen, meanwhile, spent last season on the second line for the champion Igloos, netting 11 goals and 28 points.  He lost his spot on the Anchorage depth chart to Remi Montrechere, as the Igloos found themselves with forward depth to spare.

Dakota SmallHamilton SmallIn a minor swap of defenders, the Dakota Rapids shipped Jose Martinez and rookie Fyodor Agrozonov to the Hamilton Pistols for Pierre Chappelle.  Chapelle was a solid two-way defenseman for the Pistols last season, putting up 10 points.  Martinez was an offensive-minded defender who struggled somewhat in Dakota, posting 7 points in 52 games.  Agrozonov is a 22-year-old who played the last two seasons in the KHL.