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
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.