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Stretch Drive and Playoffs are Nerve-Racking for Officials, Too

February 26, 2015, 5:32 AM ET [2 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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When it comes to playoff hockey, officials are just like players. Every man in the stripes longs to be on the ice for the biggest games of the year and dreads the thought of an early summer vacation while others advance.

As a boss and assignor, it's not the easiest or most pleasant job to tell someone that the season is over. I don't like to do it, but it's part of the job. Eventually, only a crew of four can work the final game.

As we head into the stretch drives and postseasons in our various leagues, the emotion is close to the surface for all the players that put on skates. It's close to the surface for the trainers, coaches and fans. It's really close for the Officials. This is just a part of the game that I thought you should know about.

The KHL regular season ended yesterday, The ECAC Women start their playoffs Friday, The ECAC men are still playing in their last weekend to settle some of the ladder spots for playoff placement.

During my active officiating career, I worked championships in every league but the NHL. I may not have officiated a Stanley Cup Final but I officiate in the finals of the 1987 Canada Cup -- widely considered the best tournament ever played -- and also worked the 1991 Canada Cup. So I have seen the emotions from both sides of the fence. After 1989, I came to dread the end of the NHL regular season because I knew from the get-go my season was almost done.


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 an officiating and league discipline consultant for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and serves as director of hockey officiating for the ECAC.

The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials. Stewart also maintains a busy schedule as a public speaker, fund raiser and master-of-ceremonies for a host of private, corporate and public events. As a non-hockey venture, he is the owner of Lest We Forget.

In addition to his blogs for HockeyBuzz every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Stewart writes a hockey column every Wednesday for the Huffington Post.
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