Don Koharski (born December 2, 1955, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada) is a retired professional ice hockey referee in the National Hockey League. He currently resides in Tampa, Florida, with his wife, together with whom he has two sons. Since the 1994–95 NHL season, he has worn uniform number 12, and, since the 1987–88 NHL season, he has been wearing a helmet while refereeing NHL games.
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, eleven 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. 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.
On March 24, 2009, it was announced that Koharski will 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.
1988 Stanley Cup incidentEdit
Koharski is perhaps best known for an incident that occurred following a 1988 playoff game between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils. New Jersey coach Jim Schoenfeld was infuriated with Koharski’s performance and waited for him in the hallway near the officials’ dressing room. Koharski fell, but believed Schoenfeld had pushed him. Koharski yelled several times after Schoenfeld "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-TV 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 with 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 long pants (at the time, green pants with red-and-white stripes), along with white helmets and yellow practice jerseys over their street clothes.