Ref Roundup: Playoff Refs, Respect, Retirements

It’s playoff time, and that means 14 teams have seen their respective seasons come to an end.  The same is true for a large number of on-ice officials. Of the 43 referees and 36 linesmen who’ve worked in the NHL this season, only 20 of each make the cut for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Retired referee Kerry Fraser joined TSN 690’s Off the Cuff to talk about the selection process for the playoff crews:

Each game is supervised. [The officials] are given, by a supervisor in attendance, a grade. They’re graded on certain categories. For referees it’s judgement, skating ability, and consistency in making calls. They also have an element called comportment, which is how they communicate and interact with the other officials as well as the players, specifically those they’re trying to control.

Kerry Fraser
Kerry Fraser (Josh Smith/THW)

Games are watched every night by the Hockey Operations department. They’re listening to the broadcasts and hearing the commentators say ‘that was a bad call’ or ‘not a good call’. They have a hand in doing the grading and even in the selection process of officials with the Officiating department. It’s not just about [NHL Director of Officiating] Stephen Walkom making the choices. It’s input from everybody.

Fraser – who said Wes McCauley and Kelly Sutherland are his favorite referees – also talked about the fatigue that seems to have set in for the NHL’s injury-plagued officials this season.

These guys all had to work overtime this year. They looked awful tired toward the end of the season. I sat at a game the other night with Rob Shick, who was doing some supervising for the league in Florida, and he echoed the same sentiment. I saw a couple of guys work a game in Philadelphia. They weren’t moving their feet; they looked exhausted. They had a big gap that they weren’t closing from one zone to the next and [Shick] attributed that to the fatigue factor. These guys have been working overtime, double-duty, with injuries and going coast to coast. Hopefully with these three days off [before the start of the playoffs], everybody’s supercharged and ready to rock and roll.

Ref Roundup:

  • The referees and linesmen for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs include two playoff first-timers (Scouting the Refs
  • Two notable names will be left off the playoff roster, as a pair of veteran NHL officials have hung up their stripes.
    • Referee Paul Devorksi has retired after nearly 1,600 regular season games (
    • Linesman Jean Morin’s 24 years, 8 Stanley Cup Finals, and 2 Olympics (
  • Goal-post cameras have been installed in each arena for the playoffs. (Scouting the Refs
  • Vancouver Island parents required to take ‘Respect in Sport’ course and sign agreement to be able to watch their kids play hockey (CBC
  • Don’t ever be this guy. Winnipeg Jets fan brings referee-effigy to game. Perhaps he should also sign up for that ‘Resect in Sport’ course… (Canoe
  • Bantam game ends in brawl after coach and both assistants ejected from game after complaining about officiating (Western Star)

For more on NHL referees and linesmen, visit