Quite rightly, the National Hockey League has decided that, before any teams hold training camp, players will gather in small groups at their team training facilities to get back into on-ice training as well as their regular gym routines. Officials will have to undergo a similar process, because very few people have rink access during the Covid-19 pandemic stoppage.
What does an officials' training camp look like? Let me briefly run you through what we did when I've been an officiating director.
If you aren’t in shape, your skating suffers. Iif you can’t skate with vigor, your positioning suffers. If you are not physically strong enough to take a bump and push off, you risk injury. If your core strength is challenged with an overhanging or flabby stomach:
A) you will likely develop back issues if you don’t already have them, and
B) you will look like a fat person on the ice and that’s not the image we want.
We paid for their talent for officiating the game, their travel, their commitment. They have to do their part to be ready to do the job.
At camp, we put the candidates through skating tests: three minutes, circle to circle with a minimum of ten laps. They also go fourth lengths of the ice backwards, from a dead stop, v-stop at the goal line, turn and come back. Times should be 40 to 50 seconds.
As part of fitness testing, there were one-minute pushup and one-minute situp tests. We look for a minimum of 30 bonafide pushups and situps apiece.
If everyone could do this job, we would have more people trying out. It takes someone special and a special kind of athlete to officiate hockey.
A 2018 inductee into 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 websites, YaWannaGo.com and Officiating by Stewart.