Wed Feb 23 04:39pm EST
When it comes to assistant hockey coaches gone wild, it's hard to top a dude who strips half-naked and throws his clothes at the officiating crew during a minor league game.
But darn it if Worcester Sharks assistant coach David Cunniff didn't try with this flying pen of frustration.
The scene: Friday night in Albany, where the San Jose Sharks' AHL affiliate saw the New Jersey Devils' affiliate rally from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4. The Albany Devils scored the game-winner on a power play that was called with 12.9 seconds left in regulation, which is usually when the refs put their whistles away.
Unless, of course, one of the linesman is smacked in the head with a projectile from the visiting bench. Mark McGuire of the Times Union explains:
The penalty [was assessed] for an assistant coach, Worcester's David Cunniff, nailing a linesman in the head with an object thrown from the bench, furious with a call that moved a face-off outside of the offensive zone. (The rule had to do with defensemen entering the offensive zone beyond the outer edge of the face-off circle after play is stopped and there is a scum.)
Indeed, the Sharks weren't happy with the officiating. But what did Cunniff throw? McGuire theorized it could have been anything from a can of chew to an ice pack, until he did some CSI work on the bench after the game:
But afterward, in the corner of the visiting bench, the conclusive evidence sat not far from the empty can of chew: A pen, black like a helmet -- and shattered in three pieces. Those were the shards seen flying from Patry's helmet. The evidence had been plucked off the ice and discarded by a Sharks player after Cunniff had been escorted off the bench. Backhanded in a fit of fury, a pen finding a target that far away? That's incredible. Incredibly stupid, but incredible.
Indeed. Also incredible: That Cunniff is a former Albany player for the River Rats (now the Charlotte Checkers); a team that his father, the late former Devils head coach John Cunniff, used to coach.
Even more incredible: Despite throwing a pen at a linesman's head, the AHL told the Times Union on Wednesday that David Cunniff will be fined but not suspended for the incident. As McGuire (who took the image you see above) wrote: "Cunniff threw an object at an official, and has to consider himself lucky to get off without a suspension."