The 6 Biggest Coaching Meltdowns in NHL History
Hockey is a game of emotion.
Each night, 40 warriors take to the ice to battle, check, fight and scrum in order to earn two points and move a step closer to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Standing behind the bench is a man responsible for controlling these passionate athletes: the head coach. He must keep his fighters in check, his captain and alternates from getting out of line and his players' heads in the game.
He is the last line of defense against total insanity.
Unless, of course, his name is on this list.
Over the years, there have been a few coaches who simply lose it. Something about the game or the surroundings make them have huge lapses in judgment and become more irate than the men on the ice.
These are the six biggest meltdowns we've ever seen from NHL coaches.
We've seen coaches get mad and yell at opposing players. We've seen players get mad and throw punches at each other.
As players gathered near the benches, the irate Webster jawed with Doug Gilmour. Gilmour seemed to think he was entangled in a war of words. Webster had other ideas.
The Kings' coach threw a direct hit to Gilmour's jaw, sending the big forward to the ice. Amazingly, though tensions remained high, a brawl somehow did not ensue.
The playoffs bring out the best in players, but they can also bring out the worst in coaches.
In the 1988 Wales Conference Finals, Jim Schoenfeld's Devils were embarrassed by the Boston Bruins in the third game of the series, suffering a 6-1 loss. Schoenfeld seemed pretty certain that poor officiating somehow contributed to the five-goal gap and blocked referee Don Koharski's path off the ice at the end of the game.
In the ensuing verbal battle, Koharski stumbled and claimed that Schoenfeld pushed him. This caused an uproar in the tunnel, and the enraged coach was separated from the ref.
As Koharski was escorted down the hallway, Schoenfeld delivered his now-classic line: "Have another doughnut, you fat pig!"
Schoenfeld would be suspended later in the series.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Why pick a specific moment? Bruce Boudreau's entire tenure on HBO's 24/7 was a meltdown.
Boudreau was doing so much posturing for the camera that even Ilya Bryzgalov would tell him to come back down to Earth. Clearly trying to play things up, the f-word became Boudreau's crutch, and he used it liberally during any rant, speech or pleasant conversation with the team.
This uncensored video takes a little tally of Boudreau's bombs between periods in the midst of a losing skid for Washington. The phoniness of his delivery is more cringe-worthy than the words themselves.
I'm a huge proponent of foul language myself, but use it when it's appropriate, not as a means of spicing up your speech. Boudreau made himself look incredibly bad in the series, and it's a wonder that anyone in the Anaheim organization thought that he would be able to light a fire under the Ducks.
Of course, in Boudreau's defense, something about his bumbling potty-mouthed ranting seems to have worked.
Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette
With the game out of reach, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma put his tough guys on the ice against the likes of Danny Briere, leading to Joe Vitale getting a big hit on Briere. The unnecessary hit set Peter Laviolette off, and he began yelling at Dan Bylsma as fights broke out on the ice.
Laviolette climbed onto the edge of the bench, leaning on the glass. Pittsburgh assistant coach Tony Granato did the same while Bylsma screamed behind him.
We were all anticipating that this one would come to blows, but it didn't quite get there. Still, it set the stage for an epic first-round playoff series only a few weeks later.
The video shows only a flash of the incident, but Robbie Ftorek's chucking of a wooden bench onto the ice is one of the most unique meltdowns out there.
Ftorek was enraged during a regular-season game when the Devils played the Red Wings. Devil Jay Pandolfo took a hard hit in the offensive zone, leaving him down and bloodied. Not only did the refs not call a penalty, but because Detroit had possession of the puck, play carried on.
Captain Steve Yzerman would take the puck down the ice and score a goal with Pandolfo still gushing blood in the Detroit zone.
Ftorek was so enraged with the hit, continued play and end result that, after a verbal tirade, he illustrated his frustrations by picking up part of the bench and throwing it onto the ice.
When in doubt, throw something.
Tom Webster (Again)
We might as well finish this list the way we started it: with Tom Webster.
Before he punched Doug Gilmour in the face, Webster was picking fights with the men in stripes.
We've seen coaches on this list express their displeasure by cursing, name-calling, posturing and throwing benches onto the ice, but Webster managed to cross a line big time: He threw a stick at referee Kerry Fraser.
As you can see in the No. 1 entry in the video, Webster grabs a stick, rears back and launches it directly at an unsuspecting Fraser, who realizes what happens when the projectile lands at his feet.
To the surprise of nobody anywhere, Webster was slapped with a record 12-game suspension and a $10,000 fine.