Ever since Stewart Corrigan was fired from the Seattle Sailors’ coaching job at the end of the 2017 season, he has kept a low profile. Corrigan has not spoken to the press since his dismissal, nor has he been publicly considered for any openings since then. Given his history of volcanic and sometimes violent meltdowns behind the bench, many around the league hoped that Corrigan was seeking therapy for his anger issues.
The ex-Sailors coach resurfaced in Seattle for a game this week. What might have been a feel-good first step toward reconciliation instead ended in a bizarre display that, depending on who you believe, was either a disturbing public unraveling or a misunderstood joke.
Corrigan flew up from Santa Rosa, where he has made his home since his dismissal, to take in Thursday’s game against the Michigan Gray Wolves. “Even though I’m not with the team any more, I still feel a connection with them,” said Corrigan. “It’s kind of like a parent with adult kids. Even though they’re out of the house, you still want them to do well.” He indicated that he did not hold a grudge against the organization for his firing.
Before the puck dropped on Thursday, PA announcer Sean Winters announced Corrigan’s presence to the crowd, which responded with a smattering of applause. Corrigan, who had a microphone, shouted to the crowd: “Come on, Sailors fans, it’s time to get crazy! Let’s get loud!” He then began a “Let’s Go Sailors” chant, which the crowd returned.
Corrigan cupped his hand behind his ear and shouted, “You call that a chant? Come on, people!” The crowd began chanting somewhat louder, but it was still evidently not enough to satisfy the former coach.
“All right, people, I’ll make this simple,” Corrigan snapped. “Get up and cheer or I’ll kill you! And I have the means!” He then pulled a handgun out of the waistband of his pants and pointed it toward the sky. The camera quickly cut away from Corrigan, and security officers rushed to disarm him and escorted him out of the seating bowl.
Corrigan immediately claimed that he’d been joking. And upon examination, it turned out that his “gun” was a plastic toy. On the other hand, the security officers noted that Corrigan was visibly intoxicated and seemed agitated. They ushered him out of the arena and forbid him from returning.
“We sincerely apologize to any fans who may have been traumatized by Mr. Corrigan’s actions at today’s game,” said GM Taylor Teichman after the game, which the Sailors lost 3-2 in overtime. “We had no idea that he was planning anything like this, and we never would have let him speak if we had known. We’ve asked him not to come back to Century 21 Arena, and we hope that he gets the help he so clearly needs.”
Reached for comment afterward, Corrigan insisted that this was all a joke gone awry. “I’m well aware that I have a reputation as a dangerous hothead,” the former coach told reporters. “And I thought I would have a little fun with that reputation. I figured it would be obvious to everyone that it was a joke, but apparently not. Did they really think I was going to shoot up the place because the fans weren’t cheering loud enough? How crazy do they think I am?”
Corrigan did acknowledge that he’d been drinking before the game (“perhaps to excess”). And he said that in retrospect, he should have run the joke by the team first.
Asked to comment on the incident, current Sailors coach Harold Engellund said, “I don’t know what all that was about. But I can promise you that if I get fired, I’m not going to come back to the arena packing a gun. I’m not real big into guns. I prefer fishing.”