Rare is the hockey fan who doesn’t get a kick out of watching a coach lose it on the referee from the bench. (As long as no one gets hurt, of course.) Even the most composed hockey lover has at least felt like spazzing out on a man in black-and-white stripes on occasion. Or maybe nightly. Heck, maybe some of you have chucked a foreign object on the ice in disgust.
But few will outdo Toledo Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci’s fit on Saturday night (watch below) in an East Coast Hockey League match, as reported on by the Toledo Blade. Midway through the third period of the Walleye’s 4-1 playoff-hope-crushing loss to the Wheeling Nailers, Toledo’s Joey Ryan and Wheeling’s Ryan Schnell engaged in a fight.
Vitucci believed Schnell should’ve been dealt an instigator penalty on the play; Schnell wasn’t given the extra minutes.
Cue the coach’s meltdown.
Apart from hurling cuss-happy venom towards official Joe Sullivan, Vitucci – an ECHL Hall of Fame goaltender – hurled three plastic Gatorade bottles, one of his players’ sticks, and a clipboard before stomping off.
The packed Toledo crowd joined in the contagious disgust, and a hailstorm of fan-chucked debris, including beer, popcorn and a couple of octopi (Toledo is an affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings), fell onto the ice.
Vitucci was handed a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, ejected from the game, fined a reported “couple hundred dollars” and suspended for his theatrics.
“It’s boiling over for everybody right now,” Walleye defenseman Matt Krug told the Blade. “We know [Vitucci] has our backs. That fires us up. He is fighting for calls for us and he doesn’t want us to get taken advantage of. Obviously you could tell after that moment we came out more physical and we were flying. Unfortunately it was a bit too late.”