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The Stew: Kevin Pollack, We Nearly Missed, Thank You Fans

March 21, 2024, 6:43 PM ET [6 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Godspeed, Kevin Pollock

Sad news: Slated to retire as an active official at the end of this season, veteran NHL referee Kevin Pollock recently sustained a knee injury that will require surgery. The injury will prematurely end Kevin's season and, thus, his active career.

As a result, Pollock will not have the opportunity to be honored in his final game, picking the location and his crew of officiating teammates. He won't get to be honored over the PA, nor will he have players from both teams come by to congratulate him for his career and wish him all the best moving forward.

Those things, mind you, are the icing on the cake. Kevin worked roughly 1,600 regular season games in the NHL, 219 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs (including two Stanley Cup Finals worked), an NHL All-Star Game assignment, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, and three of the NHL outdoor games (2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton), 2016 Winter Classic in Boston, and the 2018 Stadium Series game in Annapolis.

Time flies! At the start of his career, I actually worked for two weeks with Kevin as his escort and guide during his first two weeks reffing.

Congratulations to Kevin Pollock for a fine career on the ice. All the best in the future from me and everyone else with whom you worked over your career.

We Nearly Missed

I have always enjoyed the comedy of the late, great George Carlin. As someone who has lived the majority of my life out of a suitcase -- and whose wife was a flight attendant -- I've always particularly enjoyed Carlin's routine about airline announcements and euphemistic terminology.

Some of it is gallows humor. But you have to be able laugh at things that'd otherwise terrify you.

A snippet: "Here's one the industry just made up: Near miss. When two planes almost collide, they call it a 'near miss'. It's a near hit! A collision is a near miss. BOOM! 'They nearly missed.' "Yes, but not quite!'"

That brings me to someone who has come up in past blogs all too often in past years: Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson. We nearly made it through an entire season where I didn't have to write a blog calling him out for doing something dangerous, reckless and showing total disregard for other players' safety.

We nearly missed.... but not quite.

Wilson has been offered an in-person hearing for this incredibly reckless high stick swing into Noah Gregor's face. I don't care that Wilson felt instant remorse and immediately asked Gregor if he was OK.

I also don't care to hear the "it was an accident" defense. Once again, for the folks in the back: A player is responsible at all times for his stick. This wasn't a follow-through on a shot. It was a totally reckless swing of the stick, and there's a consequence.

The consequence: In the heat of a stretch drive where his Washington Capitals team is still battling uphill to get into the playoffs, Wilson cost himself five -- or more -- games. He's a multi-occasion repeat offender for dangerous and reckless actions. He ran out of justifications and benefits of the doubt years ago.

Thank You, Fans

Last but certainly not least, a personal thank you goes out to all the wonderful hockey fans who DMed me a happy birthday wish here at HockeyBuzz, messaged me on Twitter (X, or whatever you call it), or posted a note to my Facebook.

I turn 71 today.... or age 69 by the late John McCauley's calculations.... but I don't feel a day over, I don't know, It depends on the day and the weather.
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