I don’t have any major claim to fame, but one of my most treasured moments as a hockey official was the opportunity to work tryout games in the very first Winnipeg Jets training camp back in 2011. Mark Schiefele, a now full-fledged superstar, was in his first training camp and looked like a boy among men. Nikolai Antropov was the biggest human being I’d ever seen on skates. And Dustin Byfuglien directed some pretty vulgar language my way when I blew a play dead for an off-side.1
It was one of the greatest sporting moments of my life.
Just listening to the great Wes McCauley in the linked video proves how hard you have to work to officiate in the NHL. The way the players talk to him, the way the players address him, and the way he delivers his interpretation of a call — they’re all with the utmost respect and courtesy. You can literally feel his passion for the game oozing out of his demeanour.
And of course, McCauley is quickly becoming known for a few on-ice antics of his own. I love seeing an official’s character beam out from time to time. McCauley has this down as an art-form.
This was the training camp where Byfuglien’s character really came into question. He reportedly spent most of his summer boating, fishing, and living the life of a well-paid superstar. He reported to camp a bit late and, reportedly, 20 lbs. over-weight. It didn’t seem to fizz him though — he ripped passes up and down the ice in that training camp game and made some rookies look like children on the ice. ↩