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 Walk a Mile in these Skates...
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Posted - 12/11/2003 :  14:26:59  Show Profile
Contributed by: Raphael Borenstein

After more then 10 years behind the bench coaching every level from youth hockey to college and junior hockey, I think I might have said a few things that maybe I shouldn’t have said to some of the referees along the way. Of course I didn’t come to this realization until I donned the stripes and skated a few miles in their skates.

It was amazing to me, that after playing for almost 25 years and spending all those games behind the bench, that I could get a fresh and very different perspective on the game. Believe me when I tell you this; the game moves faster for the referee than anyone else involved. The ref is responsible for watching all 12 players on the ice, what they are doing around the puck, and more importantly away from it. He/she also has to keep track of the biscuit at all times, making sure it is played legally, and most importantly, not to get tagged by it!

As a referee, you would like to see everything and make all the right calls, but you are only human. You can miss a high stick or a trip, just by glancing in a different direction for a half second. On top of all your responsibilities, you are skating up and down the ice with the flow of the play, trying to be in the best position to make your calls and not get in the way of the game. The single most important call a ref can make is not a penalty… is calling a goal. People get over penalties, but there is no mercy for screwing up the call on a goal!

I think I can speak for virtually all refs when I say that we don’t care who wins or loses, (contrary to the beliefs of the coaches, parents, and players) we just want to call a fair game. Between getting the sweater numbers for goals and assists, or figuring out who threw the punches in an 8 player scrum, there are very few dull moments during the game for a referee.

Now in my third year of officiating, I sometimes think back on some of the situations where I went off the handle as a coach, and told the referee my “opinion” on several issues I felt he needed to know. I guarantee that a few of them were justified, but I imagine a lot of them…..well, let’s just say that maybe he had a different look at it. I have said things like, “Quit staring at the puck, you’re missing a good game” or “Don’t be afraid to make the right call…I won’t faint!” One time I yelled across the ice, “When you do your resume, start it with the WORSE CALL EVER!!”

If I was at the local rink and ran into any of these referees would I apologize? No, probably not, but at least I know how they feel!

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