I live in Surrey, B.C., and I'm not exactly rich enough to afford Canucks tickets, so most of the hockey I see live is at Abbotsford Heat (AHL) games. It's a good brand of hockey, and there's always potential for some entertaining moments. Unfortunately, I wasn't there in person for what's quite possibly the highlight of the Heat's tenure in Abbotsford so far, head coach Jim Playfair (the former head coach of the Calgary Flames, Abbotsford's parent team) melting down after referee Jamie Koharski (son of former NHL ref Don Koharski, who's of course famous for being involved in another legendary meltdown) tossed Heat winger J.D. Watt. Here's the video; skip ahead to 2:30 for the start of the play, or 3:20 for the start of the fireworks.
This is pretty impressive. Playfair yells at the ref, breaks a stick, takes off his jacket and then breaks another stick before leaving, probably enough to get this up into the pantheon of the top coaching rants of all time. However, hockey alone offers some stiff competition. Here's some of the other all-time greats:
Jim Schoenfeld on Don Koharski: This is the incident mentioned above, from the 1988 playoffs. "You fell, you fat pig! Have another doughnut!"
John Tortorella ejected for hitting a fan with a water bottle: Funnily enough, this one led to a one-game suspension for Tortorella and resulted in Schoenfeld taking over the team.
Don Cherry's Bruins called for too many men in Game Seven: This is one of the great coaching blunders of all time, and still came to mind 30 years after the fact when a similar error (also against Montreal) lost this year's Grey Cup for Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, his reaction is rather muted. The famous arm-waving introduction to Coach's Corner is from earlier in this game, though.
So, what say you? Where does Playfair's meltdown rank? In pure significance, it's probably below these three, as it happened in the AHL regular season instead of the NHL playoffs. We also don't have any memorable quotes from it (yet). Still, for sheer physical spectacle, this one comes out on top in my mind. Overall, I'd probably slot it behind Schoenfeld and Tortorella, but ahead of Cherry thanks to his muted reaction to the call. Leave your thoughts in the comments or get at me on Twitter!
Update: Completely forgot about Robbie Ftorek's bench-tossing, which Sean Leahy included in his Puck Daddy post along with a couple of minor-league meltdowns I hadn't seen before. This is pretty good; maybe even good enough to take top spot.