We have developed this web site with the hockey fan in mind. Whether you play, coach, referee,
or simply watch the game as a proud parent or fan, you should
find this site both informative and thought provoking. We
would appreciate your comments and suggestions so that the
site can meet your needs. ENJOY THE GAME....
Thank you to all of our readers who
have submitted comments on our feature
stories. As you go through some of the
comments you will find a wide range of
opinions that will be sure to generate
Our Readers Identify The Challenges
Which Must Be Addressed In The World Of Minor Hockey and provide excellent
Let the kids have fun
Teach creativity - not systems
More ice time needed
Encourage referees to stay
Eliminate body contact
Training of coaches
The game is too expensive to play
Or Is It Simply The Way Of The Future?????
Do you have any wild ideas on how
to improve the game of hockey? You know the kind.
The ones that you keep to yourself in case your
friends lock you up in the funny farm. Well, we've
decided to create a special section of After The
Whistle specifically for those outrageous, off the
wall suggestions that most hockey experts would
laugh at and say would never work...or would they?
There was a time not so long ago when it was considered
outrageous to even think that a human being could walk on the moon. Today,
most people look for much more difficult challenges than just a simple
moon walk. As you read some of the items that follow, instead of just
laughing out loud, remember those people who thought it was impossible to
walk on the moon. Perhaps the ideas and suggestions will soon be common
place among minor hockey....
For More Outrageous
Don't Just Shake Your Head And Walk Away! Say Something!
it the hockey program or just some kid’s parents that
make the system so bad? We keep hearing from so many
sources that Canada’s Hockey Program needs so much
work and we need to change this, and get rid of that. I
agree it needs some tweaking but first of all let me tell you about some solutions I’ve
heard of or read.
Kevin Donnelly, Referee-In-Chief For NOHA Districts 2 & 8 Has
Work Cut Out For Him In His First Full Season At The Helm
Kevin Donnelly, Referee In Chief of Districts 2 & 8 of the
Northern Ontario Hockey League, is about to enter the 'sacred
referee's room' to talk to some of his officials prior to an important
AAA Midget game at the Big Nickel Tournament .
Pat Smola – He Wears The Stripes
On And Off The Ice
Fans of the Ontario Hockey League know this man very
well on the ice, as he has been one of the top referees across
Canada in the Canadian Hockey League for the past decade.Patrick Smola is a highly respected hockey referee because
of his presence on the ice.The
players and coaches respect Pat for his fairness and know that
they can approach him to discuss a problem or concern.Pat is also very highly respected by his fellow officials, as
he is always willing to help his peers improve their skills both
on and off the ice.
Brunette - Whether You Are A Player
Or A Referee, You Have To Love The Game To Be Good
"The best way for a referee to earn
respect from the players is to show respect for the players and
demonstrate in real, observable ways that you care about being there as
much as the players," Andrew observed. "We have to see that you
love the game and have a professional approach to your responsibilities."
Dave Newell Provides Valuable Leadership And Advice In His Role As
"Coach" of National Hockey League Officials. Hockey
fans who were around in the 70’s and 80’s will certainly recognize the
gentleman standing in the middle in the accompanying photo. Dave
Newell, who hails from Copper Cliff, Ontario, is currently the Assistant
Director of Officiating for the NHL, and is one of the men responsible for
finding new prospects for the big leagues as well as providing direction
and advice to those who have already made the grade. Andy Van Hellemond,
Director of Officiating, and Newell, make a great team, dedicated to
maintaining the highest of standards when it comes to referees and
linesmen in the N.H.L. Newell was taking some time
out this summer to give a few pointers to Marty Kirwan, Publisher and
Editor-In-Chief of After The Whistle, and himself a promising young
official in the Ontario Hockey League. More
Gary Coupal - The Life of a Role Player Gary Coupal
was born on September 16, 1974. He grew up in
the little town of Capreol, just north of Sudbury, Ontario. Like any other
Canadian boy, Gary played hockey from the time he could hold a stick and
stand on skates. He played all of his minor hockey at the ‘AA’ level,
toiling the blue line for the Capreol Hawks."I had a lot of fun in minor hockey," recalled
"I was a big defense man and I was pretty good. I was considered a
leader on the team.
The road to the NHL took a strange route when Gary Coupal was forced to
play the role of tough guy. Life suspensions from three leagues resulted.
No one knows how far Coupal could have gone. Full
My Husband coached our son's novice house team this year. He smiled
the first time they all stepped on the ice as half fell taking their
first stride. You see, over half have never played before. Well
fortunately he had a wonderful bunch of kids that never gave up They
played most of the year never winning a game. However the scores
became closer and closer towards the end of the season. During our
march break ,the league had a tournament where each team played
three games. Keep in mind there is no championship games or anything
like that. Just three games for the fun of it. As usually they lost
the first two games. The third game made the whole year seem worth
it. They won!! After the final game both teams were presented with
medals. Our team was also presented with the fair play banner for
the tournament. They took that banner and carried it around the ice
like it was the Stanley cup. Later that week I took my son and
another team-mate to the rink for an open skate. I overheard them
talking to another little boy who happen to be the goalie from the
team they won against . My son and his friend told him he did a good
job at the game to which the little guy replied, " Yeah but we
lost the championship game to you guys!" It was then that I
realized that they all thought the fair play banner was for winning
the tournament. The team ended the year forgetting that they lost
all games but one , instead they ended it thinking they were
"Howie Deaker" Has Hockey In
And A Dad Who Loves To Spend Time As The Rink Man
I just wanted to share my families hockey experience this year. I am a 36 year old
Canadian woman. I have been raised with hockey all my life. Having two brothers that played. I was the official rink
I have an 8 year old son who eats and sleeps the game. We (him) are having a great season. He plays
novice house-league in Georgina, Ont. Last year he played Select and played the goalie position.
The coach we had last year shortened the bench and their were alot of frustrated kids and parents.
This year my husband Marcel is the Head Coach and two other very dedicated men are on the
bench as well. The kids are having a great time. My son is shining very brightly. I've nicknamed him
"Howie Deaker". After each game the coaching staff presents an award to the"Player of the Game".
It isn't always the kid who scores the most points but who puts forth the most effort. My son spent
aprox. 4 hours on the ice yesterday. You see when my husband is not helping troubled children at
work or coaching his Novice Maple Leafs he's the " Rink Man". Two days after we moved into our
new home my hubbie was getting this years rink ready. I guess hockey is in all of our blood.
Thanks, Darla Wegman
FOR FUN OR TO WIN
Editorial by Penny Benjamin – Leduc, Alberta
I wrote this and submitted to the local paper,
whether they will publish it or not is yet to be seen. I feel
that it happens in a lot of minor sports, though, my son is in
hockey, it is scary because I can see what we are instilling
in our children, I fear, like rink rage, it will only get
worse. So many people sit back with complaints about how a
league or organization is run, something that was meant for
the children is being run by adults without though for those
children. It saddens me that no one speaks out. How do we
expect our children to learn the fun of the game and the
purpose of the sport if no one stands up and fights for the
For Fun Or To Win? That is the question.
When is comes to sports, what should it be? Ask any parent and
the answer is sure to be winning. Ask any child outside of a
parent’s hearing and they’ll say being with my friends. To
a child it is not so much whether they win or lose as long as
they get to be with their friends. For the chosen few who
excel and eat sleep and breath the sport, there are Rep
teams to be had.
What is a Rep team? A rep team is a team made of the best in
that division, age or categories? Right? After all the team is
designed for the soul purpose of Representing their town or
city in that sport. To those of us who know the meaning of
representation, we understand this, but to those, usually the
executive members of whichever league your on, it means honor
thy neighbor, for if you are a friend or if you have the money
or whatever the executive comities deem worthy then you have a
chance of making the team. But wait! You as a parent are not
playing. Are you?
For those children whom the sport in which they are in is not
the “be all end all”, or for parents that do not meet the
above criteria, there is another place to go. This is a place,
or so I have been told where the sport is just a sport, a way
for children to get out have fun, learn something new in a
social environment. That is as it should be. I totally agree.
league sports, like any level of sports, are for the children,
without the added stress of having to worry about being the
It should be a good mix, children and parents out to promotes
having fun, learning new aspects of a game, increasing your
abilities, it is what it is all about? Right? It should be?
Yet, unfortunately it is not. With each passing year house
league sports are becoming more and more political. Why is
that? Children do not know politics? Do we as parent not have
enough problems with politicians that we need to practice and
hone our own skills? Makes you wonder doesn’t it? It should.
Just what are we teaching our children? What are we saying
about right and wrong when the lies we often tell come back to
children? Whatever happened to the most famous quote ‘it
does not matter whether you win or loose it is how you played
the game’ or how about this one ‘winning isn’t important
as long as you had fun’.
Too many times, with those times growing greater and greater
in number as the years go by, wanna be parents, who no longer
remember what it was like to be child, push their children to
a level in which they can not possibly compete, and when said
child can not make the all important Rep team and are
consigned, in that parent’s eyes, as the bowls of hell, that
parent often insinuates himself into the executive ranks,
somewhat like a plague over running the earth, they creep in
and bring politics to the lower ranks. Thereby stamping out
the fun altogether.
My son has been on winning teams, and he has been on loosing
teams, and amazingly enough, quite often it has been within
the same season. At the end of game topic is not who won or
lost but which friend can spend the night.
Personally I think it has come to a time when the adults of
minor sports such hockey take a step back and realize “It is
for the children, and like or not you were supposed to have
grown up long ago. Sit back relax, and let the kids be
Penny Benjamin – Leduc, Alberta
A Simpler Time
A story sent to us by Penny Benjamin
I said in the above editorial, times are a changing.
wasn't so long ago, my now strictly Goal Tending son, started to play the
game. He knew from the moment he put on skates he wanted to be a
goal tender. Starting in Tom Thumb, a player rotates all positions;
this was no different for him. The thing that was different is that
more often then not even on one of those so seldom break-aways,
he refused to shoot. The only goals he scored were complete flukes
and from my point of view hilarious. Don't get me wrong, I love my
son and knew the effort in which it to score the ultimate goal, yet the
look on his face when the puck actually crossed the line was one of
complete and utter surprise. I think in the first year may have
scored two goals. No one minded. No one cared.
second year of hockey brought a sense of leadership; he was now a second
year Tom Thumb player. In Tom Thumb one is only allowed to score
three goals, a rule I that teaches teamwork. One boy, a friend of my
sons, was forever on the scoring line. He was beyond his years, even
then, he had hockey sense. My son had not scored any goals that
year, when we found ourselves in a tournament game against the hosts in a
the end of the game Shawn had already received his three goals, and each
time he started off down the ice on a break away he'd call out to Clay.
Clay had no hope of keeping up with one such as Shawn, while the parents
in the stands could not figure out what was going on, the boys played the
game. Shawn skated to the opposing end with the puck and stopped
directly in front of the goaltender. He then yelled, loud enough for
even the parents in the stands to hear "Clayton", as Clay took
his time making his way to the end of the ice, the play totally stopped.
No one moved. The odd member of our own team would try to skate up
and take a shot at the puck, he was met with "No, this one's for
came up, took his time, lined up, and shot. Everyone stood by
watching as in slow motion the puck crossed the line. It is the
happiest memory my son has of the game. It is one that will stay
with him throughout adulthood...it was a simpler time.
Night On Manitoulin Island Meant A Lot To All Participants Including The
When 9-year old Savanna Labelle went out to center
ice to drop the puck for the official opening face-off on
September 12, 2003, at the Little Current Howland Recreation
Centre on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, she was signaling
the beginning of a new era in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey
League. It was the opening game of the season for two new clubs in
the league and you could sense the excitement in the air well
before game time.
Our 8 year old plays in-house hockey
and has for almost five years. We've thought about travel hockey but
the parents scare us. He loves it so much I wouldn't want to expose
him to something like that and make him loose his love of the game.
I sent this letter on to the other parents on our in-house team.
It's a sad commentary on what parents do to their kids, supposedly
in their best interest.
Size or Skill? What Will Win Out?
Does physical size take precedence over skills and
skating ability when entering the peewee level? I know every coach
would love to have the best of both worlds, but what if 2 players
were competing for the same spot on a team. The smaller player is
far more skilled than the larger player, but the larger player
handles the body checking with much more aggression. Which player
do you think would or should get picked?
House League Players Be Restricted From Playing For Neighbouring
Rep players have had to deal with geographical restrictions forever. If a
player wishes to transfer to a team in another jurisdiction, he is
required to get a release from his home organization. In some cases, the
home organization refuses to grant the release and parents have been
forced to either move to another city or threaten legal action. Now the
question is being put to House League Associations, especially in small
rural communities where declining registrations are impacting on the
number of hours of ice time they are allotted for practices and
games. For the
full story >>>>>
Do You Do When You Are The Only One In The Rink Who Saw
late in the game between the White’s and the Blues - two traditional
rivals who always seem to be up for each other when they play. The winner
of this game will advance to the next round of the playoffs. The loser
will be eliminated.
It was Blue’s home game, and since the
White club was from a distant community, they had come with very few fans.
On the other hand, the arena was packed with fans for the Blue team.
The game has been kind of a chippy affair,
with a lot of penalties being called.
The White team has been playing with
discipline and has avoided the retaliation penalties which have plagued
the Blue club. It was one of those games where the Blue players were going
out of their way to commit obvious penalties. The referee had no choice
but to call penalties against the Blue players because of the type of
infractions being committed. Yet, every time the referee was forced to
call a penalty, the coach of the Blue team reacted in a way which just
seemed to add fuel to the fans who joined in and expressed outrage at what
they thought was a "biased" manner in which the referee was
calling the game. The more penalties were called against the Blue players,
the more they went out of their way to do things which would force the
referee to call more penalties against them.
In this case, the Blue team was far more
skilled than the White team and would likely have had no difficulty
winning the game if they had stayed out of the penalty box.
With four power play goals already scored
by the White team, they now held a two goal lead. It’s early in the
third period, and the referee is concerned about keeping a tight rein on
the play. He doesn’t want it to get out of hand, but he also realizes
the importance of the contest. Another goal by the White team might put
the game out of reach, but the referee couldn’t be faulted for this
situation - he was calling a great game. Up until now, the fans have been
pretty vocal, obviously caught up in the emotions of the game. Every call
made by the referee or linesmen that goes against the Blue team is greeted
with a boisterous response from the crowd. This is one of those games that
supervisors call "difficult".
The Blue’s star player, Jamie, has just
taken a pass and carries the puck into the White zone, being chased by
Darcy. Jamie has no chance of getting to the net since the other White
defenseman is in good position and the rest of the Blue team is behind the
play, making a line change. Darcy, seeing that he was beat, places his
stick half-heartedly up under the arm of Jamie, as shown in the photo.
Jamie slows down and begins to lose control of the puck.
The people around you are all fans of the
Blue team. As soon as they saw the "hook" and realized that
Jamie was going to lose the puck, they immediately rose to their feet,
demanding a penalty call. You saw the play exactly as shown in the photo.
YOU MAKE THE CALL...
if you agree with the referee's decision....
do you do early in the game to send a strong signal to
the players and fans?
Everyone in the arena has been waiting for
this game all year long. The Blue’s against the White’s for the league
Whenever these two clubs meet, sparks fly. The intense
rivalry between the nieghbouring communities goes back over many, many
years. In fact, many of the parents of the children on the ice played
against each other when they were in minor hockey.
Darcy, one of the White team's defensemen, carries the puck
out of his end zone on the first rush of the game. Blue’s Chris comes
skating alongside him, and rides Darcy into the boards.
YOU MAKE THE CALL...
if you agree with the referee's decision....
The following articles
are written to address some of the more misunderstood infractions
which occur during a hockey game.
Delayed Off-Sides: Reminder #1 It Is The Skate - Not Just Any Other Part Of The Body!
Often you see players diving back over the
line to prevent an offside. If they dive head-first towards the line, it’s
not enough that their hand touches the line. They are still off-side until
any part of the skate (including the boot or blade) is on the blue-line.
In the above picture, Chris (diving back
on ice) is trying to clear his attacking zone before his teammate Darcy
carries the puck completely across the blueline. This example would be
called an OFF-SIDE because Chris’s skates (at least one of the skates)
was not touching the blueline as Darcy carried the puck into the attacking
Delayed Off-Sides: Reminder #2 The Skate Must Be "Touching" The Ice
When it is mentioned that the player needs
one skate at least on the blue line, it is meant that the player must have
any part of his skate, boot or blade on the ice in order for it to
be legal. If a player has his skate in the air above the blue line then
this is considered off-side (if his other skate is located inside the
attacking zone) because the player needs to have his skate in physical
contact with the ice to be legally on-side.
From time to time it may appear to fans in
the stands that a player is on-side. In actual fact, the linesman may
notice that the front skate is over the blue-line and the back skate is
still on the ice on the other side of the blue-line. But when the player
lifts his back skate off the ice, he is now off-side if the puck has not
yet gone over the blue line. It only has to be off the ice by a fraction
of an inch to put a person off-side and the linesman is in a perfect
position to see this.
In this picture Chris (white player on
right) has one skate inside the attacking zone and one skate above the
blue line (in the air). While Chris is in this position his teammate Darcy
carries the puck over the blue line. This would be called an OFF-SIDE due
to the fact that at least one of Chris’ skates were not in physical
contact with the blue line (or in the neutral zone) at the moment the puck
completely crossed over the blue line into the attacking zone.
Slew Footing: Potential For Serious
Rule 85 (b):
"A Minor penalty or, at the discretion
of the Referee, a Major penalty and a Game Misconduct penalty shall be
assessed any player who uses his feet to knock an opponents skates out
from under him with a kicking or leg dragging motion from behind
("slew footing")." (Canadian Hockey Referee’s Case
Book/Rule Combination, 2001, pg. 221)
Slew Footing has become a common infraction
throughout Minor Hockey leagues across the country. Slew footing can be a
very useful move and at the same time a very dangerous move. Slew footing
allows smaller or weaker players to get a larger, stronger player off
balance or off the puck at the very least.
This move is very dangerous because of the
way that a player who gets slew footed lands on his back or his head. When
a player slew foots another player, this player being slew footed usually
lands on his back/tailbone or his head and it can result is severe pain to
the back and concussions to the head.
The way that a first time fan to the game
of hockey can signify a slew foot is by looking at the way a player lands
after being checked. First of all, the player throwing the body check is
not hitting the person from the front, but from the side and more to the
back of the player. The player being checked will usually have his feet up
in the air when his back/tailbone or his head hits the ice as this player
is forced to fall backwards from the illegal body check.
The signal for slew footing is the ‘Tripping’
signal and a slew foot will also be announced over the public address
system as a ‘Tripping’ penalty.
The speed that the player’s upper body
goes to the ice is increased and the player has even less chance of
protecting himself, increasing the chance of a head injury to occur. These
types of slew foots usually don’t go unpenalized because they are more
obvious than a player just clipping the back of another player’s leg. If
the Referee is in the right position to see the infraction, he will
usually see the player throwing the check, throw himself a little off
balance making it even more obvious.
On top of this type of slew foot, there
have been occasions where the player throwing the slew foot has also
thrown the player into the boards, increasing the opportunity for an
injury. When Roberts is in the air, Fisher may have now push Roberts into
the boards as Roberts is only two feet away from the boards. The
possibility of Roberts now hitting the side of his head against the board
and the back of his head on the ice, makes it even worse and usually the
player is penalized appropriately if the Referee was able to witness the
Slew footing is a dangerous move and a
cowardly move on top of that. It has put players out of commission for
days, weeks, and even months with concussions, bruised tailbones and
broken elbows and wrists from the player trying to brace himself as he
falls. There is no room for this type of move in the game of hockey, and
this is why if a Referee is able to see the infraction and determine that
it was not an accident, the player guilty of throwing the check is usually
This photo shows a "Slew Foot" but the
white player is not only using his leg. He is also using his arm/elbow to
push the blue player’s upperbody in the opposite direction of where his
feet are about to go. This sends the player to the ice at a greater speed
and increases the chance of an injury.
This photo shows what is the most common end result
of a "Slew Foot". The blue player’s feet will be flung up into
the air (sometimes above his own head) and either the back of his head or
his upper back will contact the ice first. The concussions due to
"Slew Foots" result mostly from the back of the player’s head
hitting the ice.
Head Checking - A Simple
Rule - A Tough Call
Deliberate checks to the head are not only
the cause of many major injuries in hockey today, but they are also the
cause of much of the violence that occurs on the ice. When a teammate
receives a vicious check to the head, players become infuriated and often
go out of their way to seek revenge. These actions thus cause a great deal
of strife for the referee and tend to bring out the worst in parents and
This is a little quiz for all of the "hockey experts" who sit
in the stands "helping out" the referees with timely advice
whenever an opponent comes close to their children on the ice. It is also
for the "certified" coaches who think they know more about the
rules than the officials and are quick to put on a demonstration for the
fans when they disagree with a call. Finally, it is for all of the
innocent minor hockey players who are always getting penalties for no
reason at all.
Just for a moment, imagine that you could muster up enough raw courage
to put on your skates, pull on a striped jersey and allow yourself to
spend an hour and a half as a target of abuse for dozens of
"responsible adults" who can’t wait for an opportunity to
verbally assault you every time they disagree with one of your decisions.
Under those conditions, what call would you have made in each of the two
photos that accompany this article?
Think about it for a minute.
We had two members of the 2001-2002 Valley East Rebels Tim Horton Minor
Atoms take part in this demonstration. The player on the left is Kirk
Vendramin, while his team mate receiving the punishment is Kyle Kaven.
The first photo is obviously an elbowing infraction and would clearly
result in a 2-minute penalty, right?.
The second photo appears to be
nothing more than a normal check into the boards since Kirk was using his
Both of the actions of Kirk Vendramin will most likely result in a
2-minute minor plus a 10 minute misconduct!
If you have a memorable game or moment that you would like
to share with our readers, please send the story to us and we will post it
along with the following. We would especially like to receive stories from referees that
demonstrate the "human side" of the game.Contact
You...Columbo? By: Marty Kirwan, Sudbury, Ontario
I was refereeing a game in the Northern Ontario
Junior A Hockey League in Rayside Balfour during the 2001-2002
season. The visiting club was from Sudbury and you could cut the
tension with a knife. It was what we call a "difficult"
game to referee - just about any game at that level is difficult
since you could be calling penalties every time any two players
come within reach of each other. For the full
Skate Is A Skate By: Warren Kirwan, Sudbury, Ontario I was lining a game in the Northern Ontario
Junior A Hockey League during the 2002-2003 season. It was a
normal game and everything was going along well until I got hit in
the skate blade with a clearing shot at the blue line. Something
felt funny as I took the next few strides. When I stopped and
looked down, I noticed that my skate blade had been broken in half
by the shot. Now what? We carry a lot of things in our referee
bag, but a spare set of skates is not one of those things you
usually take with you. For the full
Stand Up to a Fellow Parent? By: NW Ontario Hockey Coach
The league believes that putting these parents through a
"Speak Out" will help, and I agree somewhat, but there are
problems with that approach. For one, our league requires that
anyone coaching needs to take the Speak Out, but does not
promote it at all for parents who do not enter onto the ice surface. For the full story>>>>>
work hard and have a great attitude you will be rewarded! by Kelly Melanson
Greetings! I am a level three CHA referee in the branch of HNO
(Hockey Northwestern Ontario) for 7 years now. Recently the OFSAA
"AAA/AAAA" Boys High School provincial championships were
held in Fort Frances Ontario. I was invited to do lines at the games
over the course of three days. If we were "good enough" we
were asked to continue on into the quarter finals. For the full story>>>>
Every referee experiences what we call a
"defining moment" in his career. It usually is
recognized as a turning point when you realize, either at the time,
or years after, that established you as an official. It gives you a sense that you belong on the
ice and were born to referee.
Often it is something that goes
unnoticed until someone else points it out to you several years later.
It is then that you think back and realize that it was a turning point
in your career that did actually have a significant impact on the
direction in which you followed. There are some referees who may never
be able to pinpoint a "defining moment", but they may have a
"defining season". It gives you a sense that you belong
on the ice and were born to referee. It also gives you the drive and
ambition to continue to referee well into your life.
This is an invitation to all of our readers to share their defining
moments with us. If you can identify that moment or season, please contact
us and send the story along so that we can share it with our
visitors. We also encourage parents or friends of referees to submit
their own renditions on behalf of their son, daughter or friend. Quite
often it is difficult for an official to put his/her defining moment
into words. Robert Kirwan, Publisher, After The Whistle
Coach, One of Us Is Nuts...And I've Decided It's You!
A defining moment for Kevin Murdock, Pickering, Ontario
My name is
and I am currently a Level IV official registered with the Ontario
Minor Hockey Association (OMHA).I currently live and officiate in Pickering, Ontario.
I am also a CHOP Supervisor of Officials, a
job that I very much enjoy.I
enjoy working with and developing our younger officials.
I had been officiating for about three years
for a local “Select” league and had recently obtained my Level
III when I moved to
.Upon moving to Pickering
I joined the OMHA and started to referee for the “A, AA &
was my first experience at that calibre of hockey.
Anyway, I was the referee for a Juvenile game
and the two linesmen I had working with me were people I had just
met for the first time.
From the opening face-off the coach for the
team was all over me.Constantly
yelling and gesturing at almost every call (or non-call).No matter what I did he wasn’t happy.
As the game went along and the coach
continued his antics I was constantly having a private
conversation with myself wondering what I must be doing wrong that
this coach is so angry.
I was questioning myself and my decisions.I hadn’t warned the coach nor given him a penalty for his
antics at any point because I couldn’t shake the possibility
that he might be right. He’d obviously seen more AAA hockey than
I had and maybe he knew what he was talking about.
Was he right?Was he
just testing me?I
was undecided.I knew
I couldn’t ask either of my linesmen since I’d just met both
of them and they’d never seen me work so I couldn’t really
rely on them.It
would have been much easier if I’d had someone working with me
who I was comfortable with.Someone
who’d seen me work and could tell me whether or not I was
missing things.But I
didn’t. My two
linesmen were as new to me as the coach.For all I knew they would tell me the coach was right.
So, there I was, all alone with no one to
help me figure this out.
Well, here’s my defining moment.I was standing in the
end zone during the 3rd period doing the line change
procedure and I had my arm in the air for the home team to change,
making eye contact with the coach. Sure
enough, he was yelling and complaining about something and it was
at that point I thought to myself, “Ok, coach, you’ve
convinced me.One of
us is nuts.I don’t
know which of us it is, but until I find someone whose opinion I
can rely on, I’ve decided it’s you”.
If, at that moment, I’d decided that the coach was right and I
was the one that was nuts I would never have lasted as a referee.
CHOP Supervisor OMHA - Pickering/Ajax
For The Love
of The Game - When The Times Get Rough
A Defining Moment for Paul, Winnipeg, MB
I was lining a Midget AA game that was very intense and chippy.
Those are the types we all love to do. Anyhow, we had gassed 3
players, 2 coaches, and a whole section of fans from the game
for less than civil conduct.
We (the officials) had done a solid game and the third period
just ended. Myself and the other linesman were filtering players
off the ice and it just happens to be the same place where EVERY
fan likes to stand after the game. My partner followed the
players to their dressing rooms and I was left alone waiting for
him to make sure that no one bothered him on the way back up.
Well I soon found myself in the middle of very upset group of
parents who all wanted to tell me their opinions on our job
tonight. I could not believe how mad these folks were and the
things they were saying to me...getting right in my face trying
to physically intimidate me. I'm a small guy, but I'm not going
to be scared of them seeing as how I had been a bouncer before
and right now I work at our city drunk tank so I have
a few extra layers of skin when it comes to irate people.
But for some reason what they were saying got to me and
really hurt me inside...seeing so many people and all they
wanted to do was tell me how bad I did at the one thing I
work the hardest at. I felt my emotional stronghold let go and
all I said to them was 'You know what? You guys forgot that I
had feelings and that I'm a person too. That I come out here not
for the money, but to do a job so your kids can play hockey'.
Most of them shut up and walked away, maybe realizing my point,
but none the less I still felt like crap. I even took a few
minutes outside our dressing room after contemplating whether
reffing was worth it or not.
I went home and talked with my dad, who is also a ref,
because I needed someone to relate to. I found Dick Irvins book
'Tough Calls' and for the next week I read it front to back and
realized that the 30 or so refs in there had gone through the
same type of thing. I really think that it gave me the
drive I needed to try and succeed in the business, just knowing
that I can relate to others, which is why I like reading your
I have since made calls to my referee-in-chief, asking him
what I need to move ahead and also spent a lot of time watching
other officials (and reading things like Dave Newell's article
The other day I got an e-mail from my RIC asking if I
wanted to attended a testing session to do the western Canadian
junior B championships. Doesn't sound like much to some but
I am really excited to even get the opportunity to move up!
I guess I never would have known if I had hung up
the skates, eh?
Tough Call For A 16-Year Old
A Defining Moment for Marty Kirwan, Sudbury,
My wife and I were attending a conference in Toronto when
Marty's defining moment occurred. I wish I could have been
there, but when I heard the story, there was no doubt in my mind
that Marty was born to referee.
The annual house league tournament was going on in our home town
of Valley East. It was always a big deal with the upstairs hall
open for food and refreshments all weekend. It was also
filled with intense competition with many out-of-town teams.
Marty was scheduled to referee two games in a row one
afternoon. During the first game he had the opportunity during
stoppages in play to see the people standing in the observation
windows looking onto the rink from the dining hall. He knew the
local coaches and noticed that for the entire game, the coaches
who were scheduled for the next game were standing at one of the
windows, clearly drinking beer. He would have thought nothing of
it except that they were there for the entire game and he also
noticed that the number of bottles were accumulating in front of
He finished the first game without incident.
When he skated out on the ice during the warm-up for the next
game, Marty knew what he had to do. He went up to the home
team's bench and called the coaches over. He then told them that
he couldn't allow them to stay on the bench since he knew they
had been drinking. A heated discussion followed. Marty pointed
out that he couldn't ignore the fact that they were drinking
since they were doing it in the window in full view of him. He
couldn't pretend that he wasn't aware of what they were doing
since he saw them drinking. He also pointed out that he couldn't
put the players at risk.
Needless to say, this didn't go over well at all. The entire
coaching staff was ejected prior to the game and the coach was
told to find at least two others to get behind the bench or the
game would be forfeited. There were plenty of loud comments
directed towards this young lad on the ice as well as threats of
appeal and further action against him. But Marty held his ground
- knowing that he had taken the necessary action to protect the
players and to accept his responsibility as a referee.
Here was a 16-year old boy refusing to allow an entire
coaching staff of men who were old enough to be his father - and
acquaintances of his father as well - but Marty refused to
jeopardize his reputation or the integrity of the game. This
wasn't a power play, because Marty is a normal guy who also
likes to enjoy himself, but he had to make a difficult decision
and he made it knowing that it would create a lot of
His decision was fully backed up by the Referee-in-Chief,
As I watch Marty's career as an on-ice official progress, I
often think back to how I felt as a father when I was told how
my son had handled himself with poise and professionalism in
that very difficult situation. I knew then that he had what it
takes to be a big-league official. That, to me, was Marty's
defining moment as a referee.
A Professional Attitude
And A Love Of What You Do
A Defining Period for Warren Kirwan, Sudbury,
At the beginning of the 1996 or 1997 hockey
season, Warren, who was one of three brothers who were gaining a
reputation for being among the most promising young officials in
the Sudbury District, was criticized by his supervisor after
doing his first game of the season at the bantam or midget
level. Whichever level it was, it was the first time that he had
refereed a game at that level. The topic of the discussion isn't
important, but Warren is a person who will accept criticism if
he feels it is warranted, but will defend his position to the
death if he feels he is right. In this case, he thought he was
right and obviously didn't respond in a manner which was thought
highly of by the supervisor.
The supervisor was also the one who did the scheduling of games.
Warren refereed in this home community of Valley East. The
supervisor was responsible for scheduling games in the District
at the AA level and beyond. Warren continued to be assigned his
usual number of games in Valley East, but he didn't get any more
assignments in the District. Warren continued to attend the
monthly meetings held one Sunday morning each month. He
continued to attend the meeting and was the only one leaving
without an assignment sheet. His younger brother was assigned
games, but he wasn't. There was no reason given for the lack of
This went on for two seasons. Warren continued to be recognized
for his skill as a referee in Valley East. As his father, I was
bothered by the lack of games because I knew that in order to
advance as a referee it was important to do games at the
progressive level, and there were many around who felt that
Warren had what it took to go far in the career.
As I look back, I have to say that I admire the
manner in which Warren handled himself. He did his assigned
games in a very professional manner and received excellent
reports from his local supervisors. You could tell that he was
disappointed in not being given the opportunity to referee at
the progressive level. Most people would have quit and taken up
some other pastime. But Warren persevered and maintained his
Something happened at the beginning of the 3rd
season that I look back on and feel a deep sense of pride as a
father. Warren was given games to do at the progressive level.
Furthermore, whenever the supervisor was stuck for a referee, or
in need of someone to do games at an unpopular time, Warren was
the one he called. The dependable, professional approach that
Warren had maintained during the "down time" clearly
established him as one a person who was willing to accept
responsibility. But more importantly, Warren accepted this
changed relationship without a single ounce of resentment in his
blood. Today, Warren does over 200 games a year at all levels
and is about to assume referee duties in the Northern Ontario
Junior A Hockey League, the highest league around next to the
O.H.L. He eventually became an executive member of the Local
Referee Association and served as President for a year.
The two seasons during which Warren faced the
adversity of watching officials with far less skill being
advanced to the progressive level established him as much more
than a hockey referee. When others would have quit, he
maintained his poise and continued doing what he felt in his
heart was important to him.
To me, the way he handled those two seasons have
become Warren's defining moment and clearly indicate to everyone
that he will be an important part of hockey for a long, long
Just Wish They'd Go Home
A Defining Moment for Mark Tulloch of Barrie, Ontario
I started officiating as a
15 year old in 1979. I
“retired” as a full level 3 in Richmond Hill15 years later.My defining moment came from a game that really didn’t
seem out of the ordinary.
The Richmond Hillminor bantam “B” team was playing an
unnamed opponent in a regular season match up.The two teams were mismatched in size and talent.The taller Richmond Hillplayers were body checking (cleanly) their
smaller counterparts consistently throughout the game and beating
them on the scoreboard
But these kids never gave
up.They got up after
every hit and skated their hearts out in get back into the play. Late
in the third period a group of “mothers” from the opponent’s
side of the rink decided that I was a big reason for the lopsided
game and began to hurl insults.
They were very vulgar and
very, very loud.As
usual I ignored them and stayed focused on the game at hand.
A face-off was about to
take place near this group of unhappy campers in an end zone
Now these kids are 13
years old and not much fazes them.
The center iceman from the
unnamed team lifts up his face and looks at me with tears
streaming down and says, “I wish they’d go home.”
For a quick second I
held on to that puck probably for too long and found myself
misting up. I wanted
to eject all those responsible for creating that memory for that
Unfortunately, some adults
don’t understand the repercussions of their actions.
In those 15 years of
officiating I had the opportunity of being assessed by NHLsupervisors, met many incredible people,
referee with a future and now current NHLreferee, be involved in some incredible games
in a sport that I truly love. But
I could write a book on how so many adults have ruined Canada’s national sport for so many children.
These Articles Were Written For Officials,
Parents, Coaches, Players & Fans of The Game of Hockey
First of all, as the editors of this we
site, we would like to commend any person, young or old, for taking on the
challenge of being a hockey official. The job can be thankless from time
to time as there will always be some fan who does not agree with what you
called…..and he/she will let you know about it.
But it is also a very
rewarding job knowing that without you, hockey would not exist. The best
part of the job, or any job for that matter, is that when the game is done
and you skate off that ice, you have a feeling of satisfaction knowing
that you did your best and tried your hardest, and that is all that
As an up and coming hockey official there
are some vital things that you must do to ensure that you will be a
confident, knowledgeable official on and off the ice.
We hope the articles and tips we provide below will help you reach your
true potential as a hockey official, at whatever level you aspire.
Quick Tips For
Officials 1. Your appearance is everything
2. Looking confident is critical.
3. Experience is the best teacher
4. Read your rule book whenever you can
5. Taking off the heat after a quick whistle around the net.
No matter how many years you have been an on-ice
official, or how many games you have done, a good referee is always
interested in becoming a better official. As long as you are
interested learning how to improve, you can consider yourself a true
We hope you enjoy the topics we have gathered in this
section. If you would like to submit your own suggestions, please contact
us and we will be glad to post the article. Referees have a lot to
learn from each other. We also hope that players, coaches and fans will
also read these articles to see the type of training and concerns that
After The Whistle
SHOWS & VIDEOS
of Organizing Committee of The NOHA SUMMIT - CHAPTER ONE Is Featured
On Special Talk Radio Show After Very Successful Event
Kirwan, host of The Learning Clinic Radio Show, which is broadcast
live from Laurentian University on CKLU 96.7 FM, hosted a special
After The Whistle show on August 22, 2011 with Joe McColeman,
President of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League, which
facilitates play at the Rep level for Districts 2 and 8 of the NOHA,
namely for teams operating out of the Greater Sudbury Area.
Joe provided a very detailed overview of
the league structure, including some background historical
perspectives on how we have arrived at the state of hockey heading
into the 2011-2012 season.
The Nickel District Minor Hockey League
strives to provide boys and girls up to the end of midget, with
competition that is fair, fun, inclusive and healthy at all levels.
Joe is especially pleased to see that while "development"
of players is a high priority among various associations, coaches
and parents have been able to ensure that their children enjoy their
entire hockey experience, including on- and off-ice activities and
The 2011-2012 season will be a turning
point for the NDHL since the new Nickel City Hockey Association has attempted
to merge all outlying communities into one association for rep level
hockey. This should provide for more even competition between all
teams in each division and will ensure that our stronger teams are
definitely competitive when playing in tournaments this year.
You can listen to the full radio show by
following the links below. You can also "watch" the show
which was video recorded in its entirety if you prefer to watch on
TO THE ENTIRE RADIO SHOW
Robert Kirwan, host of The Learning Clinic Radio Show, which is broadcast
live from Laurentian University on CKLU 96.7 FM, hosted a special
After The Whistle show on August 22, 2011 with Joe McColeman,
President of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League, which
facilitates play at the Rep level for Districts 2 and 8 of the
NOHA, namely for teams operating out of the Greater Sudbury
SERIES OF THE RADIO BROADCAST
The radio show with Joe McColeman of the NDMHL that was done
above was also recorded on video and posted on Youtube.
If you would prefer to "watch" the radio
interview, you can do so by clicking on the following
You Wanted To Know About The New Nickel City Hockey
Association With President, Gus Lescault & Robert
Kirwan on CKLU 96.7 FM
Robert Kirwan, host of The
Learning Clinic Radio Show, featured Gus Lescault, President
of the new Nickel City Hockey Association during the August
15, 2011 program. Gus explained in detail everything a person
would want to know about the new association
SERIES OF THE RADIO BROADCAST
The radio show with Gus Lescault that was done
above was also recorded on video and posted on Youtube.
If you would prefer to "watch" the radio
interview, you can do so by clicking on the following
We value all comments from our readers. If there is
something about the game of hockey hat you would like to express your
opinion on, feel free to use this forum. Hockey is an emotional sport and
all hockey fans have opinions. Let's hear what you have to say and give
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