LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) - An assistant coach for the Colorado Eagles professional hockey team has been benched for the rest of the season for the way he expressed his anger at the referees.
The coach was so mad he took off his clothes in the third period of the Eagles 5-1 win on Saturday.
Video posted on YouTube shows a referee pushing an Eagles player backward toward the Eagles bench as fighting continued on the ice. After about 50 seconds of pandemonium, the Eagles’ assistant coach, Greg Pankewicz, took off his jacket and threw it onto the ice, apparently angry at the ref.
“The automatic suspension of one game and a fine came from throwing items onto the ice,” Central Hockey League Director of Operations Bob Huffan said.
Huffan said Pankewicz earned a harsher 14-game penalty as the angry stripping continued. Pankewicz threw his shoes and eventually his shirt. He continued the tirade in just pants and socks.
“Many people, I’m sure, have seen the video and have seen the lengths that it went to on top of that, which is what was taken into account during the deliberation process of what further penalties should be given to Mr. Pankewicz,” Huffan told CBS4.
Pankewicz played professional hockey for 18 years, including six seasons with the Eagles, before hanging up his skates this season to coach.
The league commissioner issued a statement saying, “The Central Hockey League will not tolerate such behavior and found Mr. Pankewicz’s conduct to be completely unacceptable to our member clubs, the officiating staff and our fans.”
“He’s been suspended for the remainder of the regular season. What that equates to for the Eagles is they have 14 games remaining in the regular season. He’s more than able to coach in the playoffs,” Huffan said.
The Eagles spokesman said the team wouldn’t comment on the suspension.
The coach and the team were also fined, but the league won’t say how much.
The stripping was similar to a scene in the cult hockey movie Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman.