Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yellow Sunday

On May 6, 1988 the New Jersey Devils hosted the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Wales Conference Finals. The first period passed without any scoring, but plenty of penalties were called by Don  Koharski, two minors on both New Jersey as Boston as well as a pair of fighting majors until the 19:30 mark, when Keith Crowder of Boston was given a roughing penalty and Kirk Muller of New Jersey was whistled for holding while his teammate Pat Verbeek drew four minutes for roughing for retaliating for being hit in the face by Crowder, which gave the Bruins an extended power play.

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Don Koharski

With Verbeek in the penalty box as the second period started, Boston came out flying, as Ken Linseman put Boston up by a goal at 1:05. Rookie Bob Joyce added a second goal for the Bruins 58 seconds later still on the power play at 2:03 and then Lyndon Byers continued the onslaught with the third Bruins goal just 15 seconds later for a sudden 3-0 lead for Boston with defenseman Ray Bourque assisting on all three goals.

The fists began to fly at 4:04 with each team receiving a minor, a major and a misconduct. Verbeek was then given a tripping penalty at 8:43 with the Bruins widening their lead to 4-0 just 9 seconds after the penalty expired. Verbeek then earned his fourth minor of the game when he and Allen Pederson of Boston were given matching minors at 11:38.

Before they could return, another pair of fighting majors were handed out at 12:20 followed by the Devils first power play coming at 13:00 when Linseman was sent off for elbowing. Brendan Shanahan took advantage of the opportunity and got the Devils on the board with the man advantage at 14:58, only to have Linseman restore the four goal Bruins lead when he netted the 5th Bruins goal of the period at 17:05. The period would not end without Gord Kluzak taking a high sticking penalty at 19:59 with one player from each side also receiving a misconduct penalty.

At 13:05 of the third period, Tom McCarthy of Boston added an additional goal for the Bruins, who also took a trio of minors at 10:54, 14:14 and 17:27 that the Devils could not turn into any additional goals. Things turned ugly late in the game as the "message sending" began at 19:24 with the Devils receiving a minor, a major and a misconduct to the Bruins misconduct and fighting major. To add insult to injury, the Devils went two men down 13 seconds later when Ken Danyeko was called for holding.

Losing by five goals was all too much for the Devils head coach Jim Schoenfeld, who ran after Koharski as he was making his way down the corridor. Schoenfeld made contact with Koharski, who was still wearing his skates, when he stepped in front of Koharski to slow his rapid attempt to retreat to the official's dressing room. Koharski immediately lost his balance and stumbled to his right, bracing himself against the wall.

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Schoenfeld confronts Koharski as he comes off the ice

With his balance regained, the two engaged in a shouting match in front of TV cameras, which caught the profanities and insults as they flew. Koharski, feeling he had been pushed over, told Schoenfeld "You pushed me! Your'e done!", while Schoenfeld accused Koharski of falling on purpose and claiming he didn't touch him. He then proceeded to yell at Koharski "You're full of (crap)! You're crazy! You're crazy! You fell, you fat pig!" and as Koharski hurried to his dressing room, Schoenfeld yelled after him "Have another doughnut! Have another doughnut!" which was replayed on ESPN many times to a national audience.

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Schoenfeld during his tirade

Following the incident on a Friday night, Schoenfeld was not suspended for Game 4 until 12:30 in the afternoon Sunday by Brian O'Neill of the NHL for the game scheduled to be played that evening, Mother's Day, on this date in 1988. Lou Lamorello of the Devils knew a sympathetic judge and, with his assistance, got in touch with the New Jersey Superior Court Judge on call, Judge James F. Madden, who  issued a restraining order (at his apartment!)  just 40 minutes before the game on the basis that Schoenfeld did not receive a proper hearing from the NHL, which allowed Schoenfeld to coach Game 4 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

This development did not go over very well with the officiating crew, referee Dave Newell and linsemen Gord Broseker and Ray Scampanello and backup referee Denis Morel, who refused to take to the ice for the game in protest. The game was then delayed by an hour while three local officials were located and pressed into service - during the Wales Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

The replacement linesmen were outfitted with yellow practice jerseys, rather than the traditional black and white striped uniforms, and all three replacement officials wore green Devils sweat pants with red and white stripes down the legs! With the new officials in place and "dressed", the game was finally able to get underway in front of a sold out crowd and a national TV audience over an hour late.

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The replacement linesmen taking to the ice
in their yellow practice jerseys

The Devils would win the game 3-1 with New Jersey scoring two goals in less than a minute during the midway point of the first period. The game, dubbed "Yellow Sunday" thanks to the practice jerseys worn by two of  the stand-in officials, saw the replacement referee show the teams he was in charge early, calling the Devils goaltender Sean Burke for Delay of Game just 55 seconds into the contest.

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The replacement referee McInnis and one of his yellow-clad linesmen

After calling four minors on the Devils and three on Boston during the first period, the Bruins received 9 minors, a fighting major and a misconduct, while New Jersey got 8 minors, a fighting major and a misconduct, all in the second period. Things settled down in the third period, with the replacement officials adding five minors, 2 for Boston and 3 for the Devils.

Schoenfeld then was given his proper hearing and subsequently suspended for Game 5 in Boston, which resulted in the return of the normal NHL officials and their usual black and white striped shirts.

Today's featured jersey is a yellow practice jersey as worn by the replacement linesmen, when stand-in referee Paul McInnis (a 52-year-old goal judge and rink manager), linesmen Jim Sullivan (a retired 50-year-old police officer) and Vin Godleski (a 51-year-old salesman) worked the all-important Devils game against the Bruins on this date in 1988 when the scheduled NHL officials refused to work the game in protest.

Referee McInnis would wear a pair of Aaron Broten's skates and Godelski's striped referee's shirt he had stored in his car. The reasons McInnis was the referee that night, despite Godleski having the proper striped shirt, was because Godleski hadn't skated in a month and had run five miles earlier that day!

Boston would go on to win the series by winning Game 7 at home.

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Today's video section are highlights of both Game 3 and the controversial incident following the game as well as the "Yellow Sunday" Game 4.

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