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Love of the Game: It's About Outcome, Not Income

June 18, 2019, 10:20 AM ET [1 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulStewart22

Hockey is a business. We all know that. However, when you strap on the skates, you must have in your mind and in your heart the same passion that you first felt those many years ago when you first started skating and pursuing playing the game. Between the buzzers, if money is your primary motivator, you should not be out there because you are out there for the wrong reasons.

if you are, as a referee, diminishing the import of any game at any level, only seeking "The Big game" or the "Big Paycheck" then you are not the person I want reffing for me, nor should any assignor worth his salt want you. Every game is important so referee this game, NHL or Mite, like it was your last assignment because it just might be.

If, as a player, you are only out there to pad your stats to make yourself bigger dollars or to grab the headlines and satiate your parent's wishes or your agent or advisor, then you will never understand why Gordie or Gretz or Jags or even why a role player like I was kept skating those circles, doing those laps, shooting those pucks, hitting that heavy bag, doing those pushups, driving all over Hell's half acre.

In like manner, yes, I realize than winning is the other "bottom line" in our sport along with finance. But there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

As a coach, if the best interest you have is to win....and only win...with no thought to what level you are at, there's a problem. If you fail to recognize that you should always be teaching and developing players by encouraging, disciplining, striving to help your players become their best to the best of their ability then you are the wrong person behind the bench.

Even at the highest levels, if you don't understand that sometimes it is better to lose the battle with an eye on winning the war and you coach with the lone focus on winning tonight, well, you won't have longevity or respect in the long haul.

The prime directive for the Officials in the NHL and every other league is to get the calls right, by any means necessary. That means moving your feet and position yourself so that you have the best sight lines. Regardless of where an official moves, his partners must adjust and flow to take up position so that he can see and be of support in case someone gets blocked or loses a sightline. Just as with the teams that play the game, some teams on the officiating side function more like a well-oiled machine than others.

When you play or coach, there is a major emphasis on puck support. For officials, the hard-and-fast-objective for is that they try to make sure that nothing gets missed. In both cases, working together as a team is critical and communication of both the verbal and non-verbal kinds are vital. Try to do it as an individual and you will fail.


A Class of 2018 inductee to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Visit Paul's official website, YaWannaGo.com
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