Don Koharski

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Don Koharski
Born (1955-12-02) December 2, 1955 (age 60)
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Occupation Former NHL referee

Don Koharski (born December 2, 1955) is a retired professional ice hockey referee in the National Hockey League. He currently resides in Tampa, Florida, with his wife, with whom he has two sons. Starting with the 1994–95 NHL season, he wore uniform number 12, and, since the 1987–88 NHL season, he wore a helmet while refereeing NHL games.

Officiating career[edit]

Koharski began his officiating career in the World Hockey Association in 1975, as a 19-year-old linesman. (He is the final player or official from the WHA to be involved in professional hockey in an on-ice capacity.) In 1976, he was signed by the American Hockey League while working with a local dairy farm, for which he was milking cows. He began his NHL career 1977, as a linesman, before moving to the referee role in 1980.

Entering the 2005–06 season, Koharski had officiated over 1,400 regular season games, 235 playoff games, thirteen Stanley Cup Finals, two All-Star Games, two Canada Cups, and the 2004 World Cup. He was the league's second-most senior official, behind only referee Kerry Fraser. [1] On April 8, 2006, Koharski reached the 1,500-regular-season-game milestone when he officiated a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. [2]

During the NHL player lockout of 2004–05, Koharski officiated a charity game between former players from the United Hockey League, as part of their All-Star Game festivities. [3]

On March 24, 2009, it was announced that Koharski would retire as an NHL referee at the end of the 2008–09 NHL season; however, he will stay on with the NHL in a supervisory or instructional position.[1]

In total, he officiated 1,719 regular season games and 248 playoff games.

1988 Stanley Cup incident[edit]

Koharski is perhaps best known for an incident that occurred following Game 3 of the 1988 Prince of Wales Conference Finals between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils at Brendan Byrne Arena. Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld was infuriated with Koharski's performance and waited for him in the hallway near the officials’ dressing room. During the course of the argument, which became increasingly heated, Koharski lost his balance and fell down. Believing that Schoenfeld pushed him down, Koharski yelled several times after he left saying "You're done", implying that he would be suspended over the incident, and said he hoped the incident was on tape. Schoenfeld responded by yelling in Koharski's direction, "Good, because you fell, you fat pig! Have another doughnut! Have another doughnut!" (A videotape of this incident recorded by WABC has become part of sports television lore ever since, usually when discussing coaches losing their tempers.)

The NHL responded by suspending Schoenfeld, but the Devils took legal action and were granted a court order staying the suspension. The National Hockey League Officials' Association stood by Koharski; its members said they would not take the ice in the next game between the Devils and the Bruins if Schoenfeld was allowed to coach. This resulted in the NHL being forced to use low-level replacement officials for the game, with the two linesmen wearing Devils-coloured Cooperall long pants (at the time, green pants with red-and-white stripes), along with white helmets and yellow practice jerseys over their street clothes.

The incident was parodied in the movie Wayne's World, in which Frederick Coffin played a police officer named "Officer Koharski."

According to Schoenfeld in an interview with Canadian sports network TSN in 2013, Koharski, who had been overweight at the time of the incident, eventually lost weight.


  1. ^ "Koharski retires after 32 years on ice". 11 April 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2009.