BOSTON, MA -- “If you want to be liked, sell ice cream” - Steve Jobs
The role of the official is not an easy one. From the minute you first put that black and white shirt on, you’re being interviewed for your next job. Just like in life, how you perform on one level, affects how you move forward to the next.
In officiating, it's no different. Some of the coaches and players you start out officiating with at the mite and squirt level may be the same coaches and players that you end up officiating 10-15 years down the line at the junior and college in some cases professional levels.
You may not know it, but you are judged the minute you walk in the door. Are you on time? Is your uniform clean? How do you communicate with the coaches and players and - more importantly - have you set the level and the tone of the game with respect to player safety?
They say the only thing that is consistent in life is change. The game of ice hockey is no different. Most of the conversations I have with coaches deal with consistency.
“For example, last night's game was a great game. We only had two penalties. Tonight, we had 20, so the officials were inconsistent.”
The only thing that was inconsistent was the way the players are playing and the referees had to act accordingly.
The official is not there to be liked - he is there to make some tough decisions during the contest. The more the official adheres to the standard, the more credible he becomes.
However, from an officiating standpoint, when we look at consistency, we look at the standard that has been set and outlined in the book and we expect our officials to follow that standard. Officials must have the ability to control what they can control.
For example, a scrum at the net happens in the first three minutes and the players refuse to stop when you blow the whistle. The official can be consistent in controlling the situation by working towards a differential - assess the aggressor with a penalty, and let the teams know that when the whistle is blown, play is stopped, and we need to start the faceoff procedure and get the play moving again.
The official must have a great judgment of a hockey play that's gone bad versus a deliberate intent to punish somebody into the boards or an open ice hit. They have to assess the situation and penalize accordingly.
A blindside hit in open ice three years ago was still considered a good hit. Today, a blindside hit to the player in a venerable position is now a punishing checked and must be penalized in some cases the player must be removed from the surface.
The team receiving that penalty is not going to be very supportive in your decision when you’re removing that player from the game however the standard is set and in the long-term that team knows in the future that hit is unacceptable and that you have the courage to make that call for player safety.
The most important part of officiating is to make sure your standard is the same from game to game. The game in front of you may be played differently. However, your line in the sand for player safety cannot be moved up or down because of the style and tempo of the game, whether it's the first minute or heading into overtime.
Player safety is issue No. 1. Putting that as the rule will give you credibility and, above all, the people in charge of advancement will look at your consistency from one year to another, which will allow you to advance in the ranks.
Referees Crease LLC is an Ice Hockey Officiating Scheduling and Development Company that provides officials to leagues from youth hockey to Single A Professional Hockey.
We are currently looking for new officials for the start of the 2018-19 hockey season. No experience is needed. We are looking for ex-players who played at the high school through professional ranks.
We have already started the process. The USA Hockey seminars for certification are now online. Go to https://www.usahockey.com/officials. We also provide free follow-up classroom and ice sessions throughout the year.
A majority of the games and classroom sessions will be held in the Foxboro-Wilmington-Marlboro Massachusetts area, with several additional venues in the Connecticut, Eastern N.Y., Buffalo, N.Y. areas, and in the Atlantic District (New Jersey-Pennsylvania).
For those officials who are currently USA Registered or Members of National Ice Hockey Officials Association (NIHOA), who are interested in advancing to the junior and collegiate levels, we have have several tournaments starting in April each year at the midget and junior levels that will include secondary training on player safety, game management, and on-ice mechanics for all officiating systems.
After successful completion of the classes, you will be added to the staffs at the junior level to the United States Premier Hockey League and the Eastern Hockey League, which are the training leagues for the Atlantic Hockey Association. I will also add you to the staffs of College Hockey America, a Division 1 women’s league, and the following men’s leagues; the Division 2 Northeast 10 and at the Division 3 the New England Hockey Conference and the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference. Eugene Binda is the President of Referees Crease LLC assigning and developing ice hockey officials in the East since 1982. He can be reached at email@example.com.