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A Milestone But Not a Capstone

December 14, 2018, 11:57 AM ET [1 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulstewart22

I just got back from Nashville. Before I move on to today's blog topic, please indulge me while I give one more heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make Wednesday night one of the most special nights of my life.

My family and I could not possibly have been treated any better, and Nashville was an amazing host city. I also want to express my deep appreciation for hockey fans worldwide as well as in "Smashville" for your own passion for the sport. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.

In the weeks leading up to my U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, I told many folks in gratitude that the honor was the capstone of my career. As I noted in my induction speech (which you can watch below in its entirety, if you so desire), I was subsequently educated to the fact that I was using the wrong word.

A capstone, in archaeology, is the large stone that forms a roof over the chamber of a megalithic tomb. While I, "Stew Cat", may be in my 9th life, I still have things I want to have a hand in doing within the game. Besides, as I wrote earlier this week, it's the Dorchester way that, if told you get zero, you fight for one. If granted one, you fight with all you've got for a second. So if I've been allotted nine lives like the proverbial cat, well, I'll try for 10.

Sports Illustrated's NHL page and other sites have featured a story about me this week that I have made it a goal moving forward to do whatever I can do in order to help deserving female officials, such as Katie Guay and Dina Allen, make it to the National Hockey League. While I am proud to play whatever small part I can, I want to make one thing clear first and also add some context to the topic.

First: Neither I nor anyone in the NHL will deserve primary credit when -- not if but when -- there are female officials in the NHL ranks. They will have earned it themselves, through their own skill, dedication and hard work. Being a good official is not Y-chromosome specific.

Secondly: While I most certainly want to see qualified women be given a fair opportunity to break into the NHL, that is part of a bigger-picture goal. Officiating is a noble profession that, done properly, serves the good of the game first and foremost. Above all else, I want to see the good of the game served.

Yes, that includes qualified women having an opportunity to officiate (or coach or, for that matter, play) at the highest levels as the sport continues to evolve. But I also will continue to fight to bring light to the fact that there are many qualified American and European officials who still do not get the same level of opportunity -- nor patience with their development -- as "serious" candidates for the NHL as equivalent Canadian counterparts. Meanwhile, the officiating supervisor ranks in the NHL are still pretty exclusively Canadian.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm most certainly not anti-Canadian. My point is strictly that I don't care where someone was born and/or trained. Our game is global, especially nowadays, and we desperately need to recruit, coach, promote and retain as many good officials as we can possibly get. There is a very real recruiting and retention crisis. USA Hockey has been taking some much-needed steps in the right direction and the wheels are starting to turn in the NHL but we're still playing catch-up. That's just the truth.

Along the same lines, I want to see more former players (whether junior hockey, collegiate hockey, minor pro or NHL) become inspired to give officiating a try when they are done playing. Coaches, too. Give it a try. On a personal level, it is a good way to stay in the game and to remain part of a team (albeit "team stripes"). On a bigger level, though, it's a way to give back to the game and to serve a greater purpose. Remember: without officials on the ice, there is no game that night.

I am very proud to be the only American to both play and officiate in the NHL. I'm honored to have worked 1,010 regular season games in the NHL. I am passionate about my work with the ECAC and proud of how many of our crews work the biggest tournaments in NCAA hockey. However, these are not my capstones, nor is my inclusion in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame alongside my grandfather.

No, these are all special milestones to me. But I'm not done fighting yet.

************

The response to my autobiography, "Ya Wanna Go?" has been overwhelming and humbling. I actually need to order more inventory to fulfill new orders via my official website. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

In order to guarantee pre-Christmas delivery, for the time being, your best bet is to order via Amazon or the Barnes and Noble site (or whatever your third-party seller of preference is). I will still gladly accept new orders and autograph/inscription requests via the official website, and will ship as quickly as possible, but those who need holiday delivery on new orders should go through the third-party sites until we get our new batch of hardcover and softcover editions.

Also, now that the commotion of USHHOF preparation and events is over, I am working on finalizing book-related signing events around my schedule.



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. Today, Stewart is the director of hockey officiating for the ECAC.
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