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How Officials Get Evaluated: A Sample Evaluation

July 6, 2016, 11:56 AM ET [2 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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One of the most frequent -- and misplaced -- complaints that hockey fans make is that there's "no accountability" for officials. The truth is that, in every season and in every significant league from the NHL on downward, there is a system in place to evaluate, reward, fine/suspend or retire officials. Additionally, officials are subject to continual review and supervisor observations throughout the season.

Several HockeyBuzz readers asked me what's involved in a written assessment of an official. Below is an actual assessment I wrote on the work of an official I observed in person, with all identifying names, locales and the date removed. As you will see, I am very straightforward in my assessments.

Official Evaluated: John Doe Date: Whenever
Assignment: Referee
Location: Arena A Score: Home team won by a bunch
Home Team: The Guys in Dark Uniforms Away Team: The Other Guys

Evaluation Rating System
Excellent (5) = Outstanding for that category, excellent performance, stellar officiating
Good (4) = Slight room for improvement, well above average, very few issues, reliable officiating
Fair (3) = Minor cause for concern, moderate deficiencies in this area, passable officiating
Poor (2) = Encountered significant problems, clear shortcomings, undependable officiating
Inadequate (1) = Overwhelmed, unacceptable performance, no confidence in this officiating

General Comments and Notes: I have seen Referee Doe at least 5 times this season. Skating backwards and forwards but especially backwards is a concern. Conditioning is another concern. He knows it and he has been told after every game. Get moving and get to the net.

Category: Appearance (Uniform, Attitude, Presence/Poise)
Evaluation Rating: 4
Comments: He looks professional in his uniform. As for his attitude, he does not seem to respond to coaching and suggestions. It's his career. My advice: get moving and get skating.

Category: Skating (Forward, Backward, Hustle)
Evaluation Rating: 2.5
Comments: Often gets in the way: Skates to the half-boards and stands there. Called several penalties as R2 from well behind the blue line. Does not understand that skates are for skating. Referee Doe is not moving in the form needed for this level. Got knocked down in corner, and it was his fault.

Category: Positioning (Goal Line, Blue Line, Reaction to Play, Stoppages)
Evaluation Rating: 2.5
Comments: A byproduct of not skating is poor positioning. I honestly recommend that Referee Doe get skating and improve his positioning significantly if he is to stay at this level. He's not helping himself. Do get someone to work with you on your technique.

Category: Signals (Execution, Assessment Procedures)
Evaluation Rating: 5
Comments: Not the issue.

Category: Judgment (Rule Knowledge, Rule Application, Consistency, Decisiveness, Game Control)
Evaluation Rating: 2.5
Comments: Positioning sells calls. A goaltender interference call was made from over 100 feet out..from that far, yes, there was contact, but the low referee, 20 feet away didn't call it. It was a call that could have been let go and trust the near man to make the call and he wouldn't hang you. Not a strong call.

Category: Awareness (Rink Conditions, During Play and Stoppages, Teamwork/ Communication)
Evaluation Rating: 4.5
Comments: No real issue with this aspect.

Category: Communication (with Officials, Players, and Coaches)
Evaluation Rating: 4.5
Comments: Not an issue. He's a likable guy.

Category: Working the Net
Evaluation Rating: 2
Comments: He's told to get to the net and he stands in the corners. Why?

Category: Penalty Calls
Evaluation Rating: 2
Comments: Not many in the game. Not a real issue except for the goalie interference.

Category: Conditioning
Evaluation Rating: 2.5
Comments: Referee Doe is not in as good condition as his brother officials who work the same games....needs to tighten up his stomach and get some power for backwards skating which is his real deficiency. Core strength is missing.


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 serves as director of hockey officiating for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
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