We have developed this web site with the hockey fan in mind. Whether you play, coach, referee, or simply watch the game as a proud parent or fan, you should find this site both informative and thought provoking. We would appreciate your comments and suggestions so that the site can meet your needs. ENJOY THE GAME....

Robert Kirwan, Publisher, After The Whistle




Visit Our Full-Length On-Line Hockey Book





bullet "Why is there such a high drop-out rate among hockey players in Canada?"
bullet"When Being Hockey Crazy Meant No Time For Dinner"
bulletGary Coupal - The Life of a Role Player
bulletReferee Dave Newell Provides Valuable Leadership And Advice In His Role As "Coach" of National Hockey League Officials.
bulletAnd More >>>>>
Thank you to all of our readers who have submitted comments on our feature stories. As you go through some of the comments you will find a wide range of opinions that will be sure to generate some thought.


Our Readers Identify The Challenges Which Must Be Addressed In The World Of Minor Hockey and provide excellent suggestions.

bulletLet the kids have fun
bulletTeach creativity - not systems
bulletMore ice time needed
bulletEncourage referees to stay
bulletEliminate body contact
bulletTraining of coaches
bulletThe game is too expensive to play


Or Is It Simply The Way Of The Future?????

Do you have any wild ideas on how to improve the game of hockey? You know the kind. The ones that you keep to yourself in case your friends lock you up in the funny farm. Well, we've decided to create a special section of After The Whistle specifically for those outrageous, off the wall suggestions that most hockey experts would laugh at and say would never work...or would they? 
bulletWhat about schools that offer hockey as part of the curriculum?
bulletIt's time to have more scrimmages during practices? 
bulletWe must stop wasting so much ice time.
bulletHow about changing goalies on the fly?
bulletIf you don't have the puck, you shouldn't have to worry about being checked!
bulletHow about giving four minute penalties without making the team shorthanded?
bulletWhat about a penalty shot every 3rd penalty instead of sitting out in the box?
There was a time not so long ago when it was considered outrageous to even think that a human being could walk on the moon. Today, most people look for much more difficult challenges than just a simple moon walk. As you read some of the items that follow, instead of just laughing out loud, remember those people who thought it was impossible to walk on the moon. Perhaps the ideas and suggestions will soon be common place among minor hockey....

For More Outrageous Ideas.....


Don't Just Shake Your Head And Walk Away! Say Something!

Is it the hockey program or just some kid’s parents that make the system so bad? We keep hearing from so many sources that Canada’s Hockey Program needs so much work and we need to change this, and get rid of that. I agree it needs some tweaking but first of all let me tell you about some solutions I’ve heard of or read. 

Full story...

Kevin Donnelly, Referee-In-Chief For NOHA Districts 2 & 8 Has Work Cut Out For Him In His First Full Season At The Helm

Kevin Donnelly, Referee In Chief of Districts 2 & 8 of the Northern Ontario Hockey League, is about to enter the 'sacred referee's room' to talk to some of his officials prior to an important AAA Midget game at the Big Nickel Tournament . 

Full story...

Pat Smola – He Wears The Stripes On And Off The Ice
Fans of the Ontario Hockey League know this man very well on the ice, as he has been one of the top referees across Canada in the Canadian Hockey League for the past decade.  Patrick Smola is a highly respected hockey referee because of his presence on the ice.  The players and coaches respect Pat for his fairness and know that they can approach him to discuss a problem or concern.  Pat is also very highly respected by his fellow officials, as he is always willing to help his peers improve their skills both on and off the ice. 

Full story...

Andrew Brunette - Whether You Are A Player Or A Referee, You Have To Love The Game To Be Good

"The best way for a referee to earn respect from the players is to show respect for the players and demonstrate in real, observable ways that you care about being there as much as the players," Andrew observed. "We have to see that you love the game and have a professional approach to your responsibilities."

Full story...


Referee Dave Newell Provides Valuable Leadership And Advice In His Role As "Coach" of National Hockey League Officials.
 Hockey fans who were around in the 70’s and 80’s will certainly recognize the gentleman standing in the middle in the accompanying photo. Dave Newell, who hails from Copper Cliff, Ontario, is currently the Assistant Director of Officiating for the NHL, and is one of the men responsible for finding new prospects for the big leagues as well as providing direction and advice to those who have already made the grade. Andy Van Hellemond, Director of Officiating, and Newell, make a great team, dedicated to maintaining the highest of standards when it comes to referees and linesmen in the N.H.L. Newell was taking some time out this summer to give a few pointers to Marty Kirwan, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of After The Whistle, and himself a promising young official in the Ontario Hockey League. More

Gary Coupal - The Life of a Role Player
Gary Coupal was born on September 16, 1974. He  grew up in the little town of Capreol, just north of Sudbury, Ontario. Like any other Canadian boy, Gary played hockey from the time he could hold a stick and stand on skates. He played all of his minor hockey at the ‘AA’ level, toiling the blue line for the Capreol Hawks."I had a lot of fun in minor hockey," recalled Coupal. "I was a big defense man and I was pretty good. I was considered a leader on the team.
The road to the NHL took a strange route when Gary Coupal was forced to play the role of tough guy. Life suspensions from three leagues resulted. No one knows how far Coupal could have gone. Full story...


bulletWhy I Quit Hockey... Keep Your Priorities Straight
More Editorials By Other Writers Inside, Including...
bulletThe Root of All Problems In Minor Hockey Today? Coaches Are Too Well Trained! 
bullet All Hockey Needs Is One More Rule
bulletHockey Tournaments...Are They Doing More Harm Than Good?
bulletYoung Officials Need Someone To Look Up To
bulletAnd Many More...
Hockey Associations Upset At No Jail Sentence For Father Who Choked Coach – But What Have They Done To Address The Real Problem?

by Robert Kirwan
Publisher of After The Whistle
For the full story>>>>


Where There Is A Will There Is A Way

Read about how Referee, Dave Ouimet used his ingenuity to make sure that young hockey players were able to hear the inspirational words of Arnie Schryvers, as he told them about spinal cord injuries.
For the full story>>>>>

Coach Of The Year - What It Is All About....

Read the heartbreaking story about how a young boy's dream hockey season is ruined. We have to decide just what is important in minor hockey today?  

For the full story>>>>>

Goaltender With One Leg Is Inspiration To All....

Eric loves the game and will never use his leg as an excuse. With or without his leg, Eric is an inspiration to all who know him and plays the game the way it was intended. 

For the full story >>>>>

Champions Forever

My Husband coached our son's novice house team this year. He smiled the first time they all stepped on the ice as half fell taking their first stride. You see, over half have never played before. Well fortunately he had a wonderful bunch of kids that never gave up They played most of the year never winning a game. However the scores became closer and closer towards the end of the season. During our march break ,the league had a tournament where each team played three games. Keep in mind there is no championship games or anything like that. Just three games for the fun of it. As usually they lost the first two games. The third game made the whole year seem worth it. They won!! After the final game both teams were presented with medals. Our team was also presented with the fair play banner for the tournament. They took that banner and carried it around the ice like it was the Stanley cup. Later that week I took my son and another team-mate to the rink for an open skate. I overheard them talking to another little boy who happen to be the goalie from the team they won against . My son and his friend told him he did a good job at the game to which the little guy replied, " Yeah but we lost the championship game to you guys!" It was then that I realized that they all thought the fair play banner was for winning the tournament. The team ended the year forgetting that they lost all games but one , instead they ended it thinking they were champion!
D. Lavigne

"Howie Deaker" Has Hockey In His Blood
And A Dad Who Loves To Spend Time As The Rink Man

I just wanted to share my families hockey experience this year. I am a 36 year old Canadian woman. I have been raised with hockey all my life. Having two brothers that played. I was the official rink rat.
I have an 8 year old son who eats and sleeps the game. We (him) are having a great season. He plays novice house-league in Georgina, Ont. Last year he played Select and played the goalie position. The coach we had last year shortened the bench and their were alot of frustrated kids and parents. 

This year my husband Marcel is the Head Coach and two other very dedicated men are on the bench as well. The kids are having a great time. My son is shining very brightly. I've nicknamed him "Howie Deaker". After each game the coaching staff presents an award to the"Player of the Game". It isn't always the kid who scores the most points but who puts forth the most effort. My son spent  aprox. 4 hours on the ice yesterday. You see when my husband is not helping troubled children at  work or coaching his Novice Maple Leafs he's the " Rink Man". Two days after we moved into our new home my hubbie was getting this years rink ready. I guess hockey is in all of our blood.
Thanks, Darla Wegman

Editorial by Penny Benjamin – Leduc, Alberta

I wrote this and submitted to the local paper, whether they will publish it or not is yet to be seen. I feel that it happens in a lot of minor sports, though, my son is in hockey, it is scary because I can see what we are instilling in our children, I fear, like rink rage, it will only get worse. So many people sit back with complaints about how a league or organization is run, something that was meant for the children is being run by adults without though for those children. It saddens me that no one speaks out. How do we expect our children to learn the fun of the game and the purpose of the sport if no one stands up and fights for the kids?

For Fun Or To Win? That is the question.

When is comes to sports, what should it be? Ask any parent and the answer is sure to be winning. Ask any child outside of a parent’s hearing and they’ll say being with my friends. To a child it is not so much whether they win or lose as long as they get to be with their friends. For the chosen few who excel and eat sleep and breath the sport, there are Rep
teams to be had.

What is a Rep team? A rep team is a team made of the best in that division, age or categories? Right? After all the team is designed for the soul purpose of Representing their town or city in that sport. To those of us who know the meaning of representation, we understand this, but to those, usually the executive members of whichever league your on, it means honor thy neighbor, for if you are a friend or if you have the money or whatever the executive comities deem worthy then you have a chance of making the team. But wait! You as a parent are not playing. Are you?

For those children whom the sport in which they are in is not the “be all end all”, or for parents that do not meet the above criteria, there is another place to go. This is a place, or so I have been told where the sport is just a sport, a way for children to get out have fun, learn something new in a social environment. That is as it should be. I totally agree. House
league sports, like any level of sports, are for the children, without the added stress of having to worry about being the best.

It should be a good mix, children and parents out to promotes having fun, learning new aspects of a game, increasing your abilities, it is what it is all about? Right? It should be?

Yet, unfortunately it is not. With each passing year house league sports are becoming more and more political. Why is that? Children do not know politics? Do we as parent not have enough problems with politicians that we need to practice and hone our own skills? Makes you wonder doesn’t it? It should.

Just what are we teaching our children? What are we saying about right and wrong when the lies we often tell come back to children? Whatever happened to the most famous quote ‘it does not matter whether you win or loose it is how you played the game’ or how about this one ‘winning isn’t important as long as you had fun’.

Too many times, with those times growing greater and greater in number as the years go by, wanna be parents, who no longer remember what it was like to be child, push their children to a level in which they can not possibly compete, and when said child can not make the all important Rep team and are consigned, in that parent’s eyes, as the bowls of hell, that parent often insinuates himself into the executive ranks, somewhat like a plague over running the earth, they creep in and bring politics to the lower ranks. Thereby stamping out the fun altogether.

My son has been on winning teams, and he has been on loosing teams, and amazingly enough, quite often it has been within the same season. At the end of game topic is not who won or lost but which friend can spend the night.

Personally I think it has come to a time when the adults of minor sports such hockey take a step back and realize “It is for the children, and like or not you were supposed to have grown up long ago. Sit back relax, and let the kids be kids!”

Penny Benjamin – Leduc, Alberta

A Simpler Time
A story sent to us by Penny Benjamin
Leduc, Alberta


A Simpler Time


As I said in the above editorial, times are a changing.  


It wasn't so long ago, my now strictly Goal Tending son, started to play the game.  He knew from the moment he put on skates he wanted to be a goal tender.  Starting in Tom Thumb, a player rotates all positions; this was no different for him.  The thing that was different is that more often then not even on one of those so seldom break-aways, he refused to shoot.  The only goals he scored were complete flukes and from my point of view hilarious.  Don't get me wrong, I love my son and knew the effort in which it to score the ultimate goal, yet the look on his face when the puck actually crossed the line was one of complete and utter surprise.  I think in the first year may have scored two goals.  No one minded.  No one cared.


His second year of hockey brought a sense of leadership; he was now a second year Tom Thumb player.  In Tom Thumb one is only allowed to score three goals, a rule I that teaches teamwork.  One boy, a friend of my sons, was forever on the scoring line.  He was beyond his years, even then, he had hockey sense.  My son had not scored any goals that year, when we found ourselves in a tournament game against the hosts in a neighboring town.


Towards the end of the game Shawn had already received his three goals, and each time he started off down the ice on a break away he'd call out to Clay.  Clay had no hope of keeping up with one such as Shawn, while the parents in the stands could not figure out what was going on, the boys played the game.  Shawn skated to the opposing end with the puck and stopped directly in front of the goaltender.  He then yelled, loud enough for even the parents in the stands to hear "Clayton", as Clay took his time making his way to the end of the ice, the play totally stopped.  No one moved.  The odd member of our own team would try to skate up and take a shot at the puck, he was met with "No, this one's for Clay!"


Clayton came up, took his time, lined up, and shot.  Everyone stood by watching as in slow motion the puck crossed the line.  It is the happiest memory my son has of the game.  It is one that will stay with him throughout adulthood...it was a simpler time.




Historical Night On Manitoulin Island Meant A Lot To All Participants Including The Third Team
When 9-year old Savanna Labelle went out to center ice to drop the puck for the official opening face-off on September 12, 2003, at the Little Current Howland Recreation Centre on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, she was signaling the beginning of a new era in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. It was the opening game of the season for two new clubs in the league and you could sense the excitement in the air well before game time.
Full story >>>

House League or Rep? 
Where Will Your Child Play?

Our 8 year old plays in-house hockey and has for almost five years. We've thought about travel hockey but the parents scare us. He loves it so much I wouldn't want to expose him to something like that and make him loose his love of the game. I sent this letter on to the other parents on our in-house team. It's a sad commentary on what parents do to their kids, supposedly in their best interest.

Full Story>>>

fetisov and berube

Physical Size or Skill? What Will Win Out?
Does physical size take precedence over skills and skating ability when entering the peewee level? I know every coach would love to have the best of both worlds, but what if 2 players were competing for the same spot on a team. The smaller player is far more skilled than the larger player, but the larger player handles the body checking with much more aggression. Which player do you think would or should get picked?

  For the full story >>>>

Hockey Expansion Faces A Long Up Hill Battle In Southern California 
This article was written by  Sharon Keeney, a parent of a 10 year old goalie who plays as part of the California Waves Hockey Club in Anaheim. She identified some of the main issues facing minor hockey in that area of the continent.  For the full story>>>>

Should House League Players Be Restricted From Playing For Neighbouring Communities?
Rep players have had to deal with geographical restrictions forever. If a player wishes to transfer to a team in another jurisdiction, he is required to get a release from his home organization. In some cases, the home organization refuses to grant the release and parents have been forced to either move to another city or threaten legal action. Now the question is being put to House League Associations, especially in small rural communities where declining registrations are impacting on the number of  hours of ice time they are allotted for practices and games. For the full story >>>>>
High Turn-Over Of Officials Is Bad News For Minor Hockey
When it comes to minor hockey, there are only three professionals on the ice. That's right. There are only three people on the ice who are earning a living in a hockey career - they are the officials. For the full story>>>>
Rink Rage - Enough Is Enough! It's Time To Draw The Line
The line has been drawn! It appears as if all of the public service campaigns, fair play clinics, certification programs, posters, etc. are failing to curb the increasing incidence of violence. There is only one thing left to do!  For the full story>>>
Should A Coach Have The Right To Withdraw A Team For Safety Reasons?
Tim Gmeinweser, coach of the Knights of Columbus Sabres Bantams is being considered a hero by some, but is being condemned by others. The Sabres are based in Edmonton. During the Christmas Holidays he pulled his team off the ice because he was concerned for the safety of his players. What is your opinion on this situation? For the full story>>>>>

And There's Plenty More.....



What Do You Do When You Are The Only One In The Rink Who Saw The Infraction?

It’s late in the game between the White’s and the Blues - two traditional rivals who always seem to be up for each other when they play. The winner of this game will advance to the next round of the playoffs. The loser will be eliminated.

It was Blue’s home game, and since the White club was from a distant community, they had come with very few fans. On the other hand, the arena was packed with fans for the Blue team.

The game has been kind of a chippy affair, with a lot of penalties being called.

The White team has been playing with discipline and has avoided the retaliation penalties which have plagued the Blue club. It was one of those games where the Blue players were going out of their way to commit obvious penalties. The referee had no choice but to call penalties against the Blue players because of the type of infractions being committed. Yet, every time the referee was forced to call a penalty, the coach of the Blue team reacted in a way which just seemed to add fuel to the fans who joined in and expressed outrage at what they thought was a "biased" manner in which the referee was calling the game. The more penalties were called against the Blue players, the more they went out of their way to do things which would force the referee to call more penalties against them.

In this case, the Blue team was far more skilled than the White team and would likely have had no difficulty winning the game if they had stayed out of the penalty box.

With four power play goals already scored by the White team, they now held a two goal lead. It’s early in the third period, and the referee is concerned about keeping a tight rein on the play. He doesn’t want it to get out of hand, but he also realizes the importance of the contest. Another goal by the White team might put the game out of reach, but the referee couldn’t be faulted for this situation - he was calling a great game. Up until now, the fans have been pretty vocal, obviously caught up in the emotions of the game. Every call made by the referee or linesmen that goes against the Blue team is greeted with a boisterous response from the crowd. This is one of those games that supervisors call "difficult".

The Blue’s star player, Jamie, has just taken a pass and carries the puck into the White zone, being chased by Darcy. Jamie has no chance of getting to the net since the other White defenseman is in good position and the rest of the Blue team is behind the play, making a line change. Darcy, seeing that he was beat, places his stick half-heartedly up under the arm of Jamie, as shown in the photo. Jamie slows down and begins to lose control of the puck.

The people around you are all fans of the Blue team. As soon as they saw the "hook" and realized that Jamie was going to lose the puck, they immediately rose to their feet, demanding a penalty call. You saw the play exactly as shown in the photo.


See if you agree with the referee's decision....

What do you do early in the game to send a strong signal to the players and fans?

Everyone in the arena has been waiting for this game all year long. The Blue’s against the White’s for the league championship. 

Whenever these two clubs meet, sparks fly. The intense rivalry between the nieghbouring communities goes back over many, many years. In fact, many of the parents of the children on the ice played against each other when they were in minor hockey.

Darcy, one of the White team's defensemen, carries the puck out of his end zone on the first rush of the game.  Blue’s Chris comes skating alongside him, and rides Darcy into the boards.


See if you agree with the referee's decision....


The following articles are written to address some of the more misunderstood  infractions which occur during a hockey game.



Delayed Off-Sides: Reminder #1
It Is The Skate - Not Just Any Other Part Of The Body!

Often you see players diving back over the line to prevent an offside. If they dive head-first towards the line, it’s not enough that their hand touches the line. They are still off-side until any part of the skate (including the boot or blade) is on the blue-line.

In the above picture, Chris (diving back on ice) is trying to clear his attacking zone before his teammate Darcy carries the puck completely across the blueline. This example would be called an OFF-SIDE because Chris’s skates (at least one of the skates) was not touching the blueline as Darcy carried the puck into the attacking zone.

Delayed Off-Sides: Reminder #2
The Skate Must Be "Touching" The Ice

When it is mentioned that the player needs one skate at least on the blue line, it is meant that the player must have any part of his skate, boot or blade on the ice in order for it to be legal. If a player has his skate in the air above the blue line then this is considered off-side (if his other skate is located inside the attacking zone) because the player needs to have his skate in physical contact with the ice to be legally on-side.

From time to time it may appear to fans in the stands that a player is on-side. In actual fact, the linesman may notice that the front skate is over the blue-line and the back skate is still on the ice on the other side of the blue-line. But when the player lifts his back skate off the ice, he is now off-side if the puck has not yet gone over the blue line. It only has to be off the ice by a fraction of an inch to put a person off-side and the linesman is in a perfect position to see this.

In this picture Chris (white player on right) has one skate inside the attacking zone and one skate above the blue line (in the air). While Chris is in this position his teammate Darcy carries the puck over the blue line. This would be called an OFF-SIDE due to the fact that at least one of Chris’ skates were not in physical contact with the blue line (or in the neutral zone) at the moment the puck completely crossed over the blue line into the attacking zone.


Slew Footing: Potential For Serious Injury

Rule 85 (b):

"A Minor penalty or, at the discretion of the Referee, a Major penalty and a Game Misconduct penalty shall be assessed any player who uses his feet to knock an opponents skates out from under him with a kicking or leg dragging motion from behind ("slew footing")." (Canadian Hockey Referee’s Case Book/Rule Combination, 2001, pg. 221)

Slew Footing has become a common infraction throughout Minor Hockey leagues across the country. Slew footing can be a very useful move and at the same time a very dangerous move. Slew footing allows smaller or weaker players to get a larger, stronger player off balance or off the puck at the very least.

This move is very dangerous because of the way that a player who gets slew footed lands on his back or his head. When a player slew foots another player, this player being slew footed usually lands on his back/tailbone or his head and it can result is severe pain to the back and concussions to the head.

The way that a first time fan to the game of hockey can signify a slew foot is by looking at the way a player lands after being checked. First of all, the player throwing the body check is not hitting the person from the front, but from the side and more to the back of the player. The player being checked will usually have his feet up in the air when his back/tailbone or his head hits the ice as this player is forced to fall backwards from the illegal body check.

The signal for slew footing is the ‘Tripping’ signal and a slew foot will also be announced over the public address system as a ‘Tripping’ penalty.

The speed that the player’s upper body goes to the ice is increased and the player has even less chance of protecting himself, increasing the chance of a head injury to occur. These types of slew foots usually don’t go unpenalized because they are more obvious than a player just clipping the back of another player’s leg. If the Referee is in the right position to see the infraction, he will usually see the player throwing the check, throw himself a little off balance making it even more obvious.

On top of this type of slew foot, there have been occasions where the player throwing the slew foot has also thrown the player into the boards, increasing the opportunity for an injury. When Roberts is in the air, Fisher may have now push Roberts into the boards as Roberts is only two feet away from the boards. The possibility of Roberts now hitting the side of his head against the board and the back of his head on the ice, makes it even worse and usually the player is penalized appropriately if the Referee was able to witness the illegal check.

Slew footing is a dangerous move and a cowardly move on top of that. It has put players out of commission for days, weeks, and even months with concussions, bruised tailbones and broken elbows and wrists from the player trying to brace himself as he falls. There is no room for this type of move in the game of hockey, and this is why if a Referee is able to see the infraction and determine that it was not an accident, the player guilty of throwing the check is usually penalized.


This photo shows a "Slew Foot" but the white player is not only using his leg. He is also using his arm/elbow to push the blue player’s upperbody in the opposite direction of where his feet are about to go. This sends the player to the ice at a greater speed and increases the chance of an injury.


This photo shows what is the most common end result of a "Slew Foot". The blue player’s feet will be flung up into the air (sometimes above his own head) and either the back of his head or his upper back will contact the ice first. The concussions due to "Slew Foots" result mostly from the back of the player’s head hitting the ice.


Head Checking - A Simple Rule - A Tough Call

Deliberate checks to the head are not only the cause of many major injuries in hockey today, but they are also the cause of much of the violence that occurs on the ice. When a teammate receives a vicious check to the head, players become infuriated and often go out of their way to seek revenge. These actions thus cause a great deal of strife for the referee and tend to bring out the worst in parents and coaches.

This is a little quiz for all of the "hockey experts" who sit in the stands "helping out" the referees with timely advice whenever an opponent comes close to their children on the ice. It is also for the "certified" coaches who think they know more about the rules than the officials and are quick to put on a demonstration for the fans when they disagree with a call. Finally, it is for all of the innocent minor hockey players who are always getting penalties for no reason at all.

Just for a moment, imagine that you could muster up enough raw courage to put on your skates, pull on a striped jersey and allow yourself to spend an hour and a half as a target of abuse for dozens of "responsible adults" who can’t wait for an opportunity to verbally assault you every time they disagree with one of your decisions. Under those conditions, what call would you have made in each of the two photos that accompany this article?

Think about it for a minute.

We had two members of the 2001-2002 Valley East Rebels Tim Horton Minor Atoms take part in this demonstration. The player on the left is Kirk Vendramin, while his team mate receiving the punishment is Kyle Kaven.

The first photo is obviously an elbowing infraction and would clearly result in a 2-minute penalty, right?.
The second photo appears to be nothing more than a normal check into the boards since Kirk was using his shoulder, right?


Both of the actions of Kirk Vendramin will most likely result in a 2-minute minor plus a 10 minute misconduct!

bulletFor a more in-depth look at the rules of hockey, make sure you visit our online full-length feature book:
For The Sake Of The Game...Hockey Without The Silver Lining


If you have a memorable game or moment that you would like to share with our readers, please send the story to us and we will post it along with the following. We would especially like to receive stories from referees that demonstrate the "human side" of the game.Contact us here
Who Are You...Columbo?
By: Marty Kirwan, Sudbury, Ontario
I was refereeing a game in the Northern Ontario Junior A Hockey League in Rayside Balfour during the 2001-2002 season. The visiting club was from Sudbury and you could cut the tension with a knife. It was what we call a "difficult" game to referee - just about any game at that level is difficult since you could be calling penalties every time any two players come within reach of each other.
For the full story>>>>>
A Skate Is A Skate
By: Warren Kirwan, Sudbury, Ontario
I was lining a game in the Northern Ontario Junior A Hockey League during the 2002-2003 season. It was a normal game and everything was going along well until I got hit in the skate blade with a clearing shot at the blue line. Something felt funny as I took the next few strides. When I stopped and looked down, I noticed that my skate blade had been broken in half by the shot. Now what? We carry a lot of things in our referee bag, but a spare set of skates is not one of those things you usually take with you.
For the full story>>>>>
Will You Stand Up to a Fellow Parent?
By: NW Ontario Hockey Coach
The league believes that putting these parents through a "Speak Out" will help, and I agree somewhat, but there are problems with that approach.  For one, our league requires that anyone coaching needs to take the Speak Out, but does not promote it at all for parents who do not enter onto the ice surface.
For the full story>>>>>
If you work hard and have a great attitude you will be rewarded!
by Kelly Melanson
Greetings! I am a level three CHA referee in the branch of HNO (Hockey Northwestern Ontario) for 7 years now. Recently the OFSAA "AAA/AAAA" Boys High School provincial championships were held in Fort Frances Ontario. I was invited to do lines at the games over the course of three days. If we were "good enough" we were asked to continue on into the quarter finals.
For the full story>>>>

Every referee experiences what we call a "defining moment" in his career. It usually is recognized as a turning point when you realize, either at the time, or years after,  that established you as an official. It gives you a sense that you belong on the ice and were born to referee.

Often it is something that goes unnoticed until someone else points it out to you several years later. It is then that you think back and realize that it was a turning point in your career that did actually have a significant impact on the direction in which you followed. There are some referees who may never be able to pinpoint a "defining moment", but they may have a "defining season".  It gives you a sense that you belong on the ice and were born to referee. It also gives you the drive and ambition to continue to referee well into your life. 

This is an invitation to all of our readers to share their defining moments with us. If you can identify that moment or season, please contact us and send the story along so that we can share it with our visitors. We also encourage parents or friends of referees to submit their own renditions on behalf of their son, daughter or friend. Quite often it is difficult for an official to put his/her defining moment into words.
Robert Kirwan, Publisher, After The Whistle

Ok Coach, One of Us Is Nuts...And I've Decided It's You!
A defining moment for Kevin Murdock, Pickering, Ontario

My name is Kevin Murdock and I am currently a Level IV official registered with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA).  I currently live and officiate in Pickering, Ontario. 

I am also a CHOP Supervisor of Officials, a job that I very much enjoy.  I enjoy working with and developing our younger officials.  

I had been officiating for about three years in Toronto for a local “Select” league and had recently obtained my Level III when I moved to Pickering ON .  Upon moving to Pickering I joined the OMHA and started to referee for the “A, AA & AAA” levels.  This was my first experience at that calibre of hockey.  

Anyway, I was the referee for a Juvenile game and the two linesmen I had working with me were people I had just met for the first time.  

From the opening face-off the coach for the Pickering team was all over me.  Constantly yelling and gesturing at almost every call (or non-call).  No matter what I did he wasn’t happy. 

As the game went along and the coach continued his antics I was constantly having a private conversation with myself wondering what I must be doing wrong that this coach is so angry. 

I was questioning myself and my decisions.  I hadn’t warned the coach nor given him a penalty for his antics at any point because I couldn’t shake the possibility that he might be right. He’d obviously seen more AAA hockey than I had and maybe he knew what he was talking about.   

Was he right?  Was he just testing me?  I was undecided.  I knew I couldn’t ask either of my linesmen since I’d just met both of them and they’d never seen me work so I couldn’t really rely on them.  It would have been much easier if I’d had someone working with me who I was comfortable with.  Someone who’d seen me work and could tell me whether or not I was missing things.  But I didn’t.  My two linesmen were as new to me as the coach.  For all I knew they would tell me the coach was right.  

So, there I was, all alone with no one to help me figure this out.  

Well, here’s my defining moment.  I was standing in the Pickering end zone during the 3rd period doing the line change procedure and I had my arm in the air for the home team to change, making eye contact with the coach.   Sure enough, he was yelling and complaining about something and it was at that point I thought to myself, “Ok, coach, you’ve convinced me.  One of us is nuts.  I don’t know which of us it is, but until I find someone whose opinion I can rely on, I’ve decided it’s you”.   

If, at that moment, I’d decided that the coach was right and I was the one that was nuts I would never have lasted as a referee.   

Kevin Murdock
CHOP Supervisor OMHA -
Pickering /Ajax

For The Love of The Game - When The Times Get Rough
A Defining Moment for Paul, Winnipeg, MB

I was lining a Midget AA game that was very intense and chippy.  Those are the types we all love to do. Anyhow, we had gassed 3 players, 2 coaches, and a whole section of fans from the game for less than civil conduct. 

We (the officials) had done a solid game and the third period just ended. Myself and the other linesman were filtering players off the ice and it just happens to be the same place where EVERY fan likes to stand after the game. My partner followed the players to their dressing rooms and I was left alone waiting for him to make sure that no one bothered him on the way back up. 

Well I soon found myself in the middle of very upset group of  parents who all wanted to tell me their opinions on our job tonight. I could not believe how mad these folks were and the things they were saying to me...getting right in my face trying to physically intimidate me. I'm a small guy, but I'm not going to be scared of them seeing as how I had been a bouncer before and right now I work at our city drunk tank so I have a few extra layers of skin when it comes to irate people. 

But for some reason what they were saying got to me and really hurt me inside...seeing so many people and all they wanted to do was tell me how bad I did at the one thing I work the hardest at. I felt my emotional stronghold let go and all I said to them was 'You know what? You guys forgot that I had feelings and that I'm a person too. That I come out here not for the money, but to do a job so your kids can play hockey'. Most of them shut up and walked away, maybe realizing my point, but none the less I still felt like crap. I even took a few minutes outside our dressing room after contemplating whether reffing was worth it or not. 

I went home and talked with my dad, who is also a ref, because I needed someone to relate to. I found Dick Irvins book 'Tough Calls' and for the next week I read it front to back and realized that the 30 or so refs in there had gone through the same type of thing. I really think that it gave me the drive I needed to try and succeed in the business, just knowing that I can relate to others, which is why I like reading your website. 

I have since made calls to my referee-in-chief, asking him what I need to move ahead and also spent a lot of time watching other officials (and reading things like Dave Newell's article in ATW). 

The other day I got an e-mail from my RIC asking if I wanted to attended a testing session to do the western Canadian junior B championships. Doesn't sound like much to some but I am really excited to even get the opportunity to move up! 

I guess I never would have known if I had hung up the skates, eh?

A Tough Call For A 16-Year Old
A Defining Moment for Marty Kirwan, Sudbury, Ontario

My wife and I were attending a conference in Toronto when Marty's defining moment occurred. I wish I could have been there, but when I heard the story, there was no doubt in my mind that Marty was born to referee.

The annual house league tournament was going on in our home town of Valley East. It was always a big deal with the upstairs hall open for food and refreshments all weekend.  It was also filled with intense competition with many out-of-town teams.

Marty was scheduled to referee two games in a row one afternoon. During the first game he had the opportunity during stoppages in play to see the people standing in the observation windows looking onto the rink from the dining hall. He knew the local coaches and noticed that for the entire game, the coaches who were scheduled for the next game were standing at one of the windows, clearly drinking beer. He would have thought nothing of it except that they were there for the entire game and he also noticed that the number of bottles were accumulating in front of them.

He finished the first game without incident.

When he skated out on the ice during the warm-up for the next game, Marty knew what he had to do. He went up to the home team's bench and called the coaches over. He then told them that he couldn't allow them to stay on the bench since he knew they had been drinking. A heated discussion followed. Marty pointed out that he couldn't ignore the fact that they were drinking since they were doing it in the window in full view of him. He couldn't pretend that he wasn't aware of what they were doing since he saw them drinking. He also pointed out that he couldn't put the players at risk.

Needless to say, this didn't go over well at all. The entire coaching staff was ejected prior to the game and the coach was told to find at least two others to get behind the bench or the game would be forfeited. There were plenty of loud comments directed towards this young lad on the ice as well as threats of appeal and further action against him. But Marty held his ground - knowing that he had taken the necessary action to protect the players and to accept his responsibility as a referee.

Here was a 16-year old boy refusing to allow an entire coaching staff of men who were old enough to be his father - and acquaintances of his father as well - but Marty refused to jeopardize his reputation or the integrity of the game. This wasn't a power play, because Marty is a normal guy who also likes to enjoy himself, but he had to make a difficult decision and he made it knowing that it would create a lot of controversy.

His decision was fully backed up by the Referee-in-Chief, Barry Newell.

As I watch Marty's career as an on-ice official progress, I often think back to how I felt as a father when I was told how my son had handled himself with poise and professionalism in that very difficult situation. I knew then that he had what it takes to be a big-league official. That, to me, was Marty's defining moment as a referee.

A Professional Attitude And A Love Of What You Do
A Defining Period for Warren Kirwan, Sudbury, Ontario

At the beginning of the 1996 or 1997 hockey season, Warren, who was one of three brothers who were gaining a reputation for being among the most promising young officials in the Sudbury District, was criticized by his supervisor after doing his first game of the season at the bantam or midget level. Whichever level it was, it was the first time that he had refereed a game at that level. The topic of the discussion isn't important, but Warren is a person who will accept criticism if he feels it is warranted, but will defend his position to the death if he feels he is right. In this case, he thought he was right and obviously didn't respond in a manner which was thought highly of by the supervisor.

The supervisor was also the one who did the scheduling of games. Warren refereed in this home community of Valley East. The supervisor was responsible for scheduling games in the District at the AA level and beyond. Warren continued to be assigned his usual number of games in Valley East, but he didn't get any more assignments in the District. Warren continued to attend the monthly meetings held one Sunday morning each month. He continued to attend the meeting and was the only one leaving without an assignment sheet. His younger brother was assigned games, but he wasn't. There was no reason given for the lack of assignments.

This went on for two seasons. Warren continued to be recognized for his skill as a referee in Valley East. As his father, I was bothered by the lack of games because I knew that in order to advance as a referee it was important to do games at the progressive level, and there were many around who felt that Warren had what it took to go far in the career.

As I look back, I have to say that I admire the manner in which Warren handled himself. He did his assigned games in a very professional manner and received excellent reports from his local supervisors. You could tell that he was disappointed in not being given the opportunity to referee at the progressive level. Most people would have quit and taken up some other pastime. But Warren persevered and maintained his professionalism.

Something happened at the beginning of the 3rd season that I look back on and feel a deep sense of pride as a father. Warren was given games to do at the progressive level. Furthermore, whenever the supervisor was stuck for a referee, or in need of someone to do games at an unpopular time, Warren was the one he called. The dependable, professional approach that Warren had maintained during the "down time" clearly established him as one a person who was willing to accept responsibility. But more importantly, Warren accepted this changed relationship without a single ounce of resentment in his blood. Today, Warren does over 200 games a year at all levels and is about to assume referee duties in the Northern Ontario Junior A Hockey League, the highest league around next to the O.H.L. He eventually became an executive member of the Local Referee Association and served as President for a year.

The two seasons during which Warren faced the adversity of watching officials with far less skill being advanced to the progressive level established him as much more than a hockey referee. When others would have quit, he maintained his poise and continued doing what he felt in his heart was important to him.

To me, the way he handled those two seasons have become Warren's defining moment and clearly indicate to everyone that he will be an important part of hockey for a long, long time.

I Just Wish They'd Go Home
A Defining Moment for Mark Tulloch of Barrie, Ontario

I started officiating as a 15 year old in 1979.  I “retired” as a full level 3 in Richmond Hill 15 years later.  My defining moment came from a game that really didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  

The Richmond Hill minor bantam “B” team was playing an unnamed opponent in a regular season match up.  The two teams were mismatched in size and talent.  The taller Richmond Hill players were body checking (cleanly) their smaller counterparts consistently throughout the game and beating them on the scoreboard

But these kids never gave up.  They got up after every hit and skated their hearts out in get back into the play.  Late in the third period a group of “mothers” from the opponent’s side of the rink decided that I was a big reason for the lopsided game and began to hurl insults.

They were very vulgar and very, very loud.  As usual I ignored them and stayed focused on the game at hand.  

A face-off was about to take place near this group of unhappy campers in an end zone location.  

Now these kids are 13 years old and not much fazes them.  

The center iceman from the unnamed team lifts up his face and looks at me with tears streaming down and says, “I wish they’d go home.”  

For a quick second I couldn’t breathe.  I held on to that puck probably for too long and found myself misting up.  I wanted to eject all those responsible for creating that memory for that child.  

Unfortunately, some adults don’t understand the repercussions of their actions.  

In those 15 years of officiating I had the opportunity of being assessed by NHL supervisors, met many incredible people, referee with a future and now current NHL referee, be involved in some incredible games in a sport that I truly love.  But I could write a book on how so many adults have ruined Canada ’s national sport for so many children.  



Marty Kirwan

These Articles Were Written For Officials, Parents, Coaches, Players & Fans of The Game of Hockey

Warren Kirwan

First of all, as the editors of this we site, we would like to commend any person, young or old, for taking on the challenge of being a hockey official. The job can be thankless from time to time as there will always be some fan who does not agree with what you called…..and he/she will let you know about it.  

But it is also a very rewarding job knowing that without you, hockey would not exist. The best part of the job, or any job for that matter, is that when the game is done and you skate off that ice, you have a feeling of satisfaction knowing that you did your best and tried your hardest, and that is all that matters!

As an up and coming hockey official there are some vital things that you must do to ensure that you will be a confident, knowledgeable official on and off the ice.

We hope the articles and tips we provide below will help you reach your true potential as a hockey official, at whatever level you aspire.

bulletQuick Tips For Officials
1. Your appearance is everything
2. Looking confident is critical.
3. Experience is the best teacher
4. Read your rule book whenever you can
5. Taking off the heat after a quick whistle around the net.
bulletKnow Your Rules - Knowledge Is The Key To Success
bulletKnowledge + Experience = Confidence
Show That You Are Confident At All Times
bulletMake Sure You Are In Top Physical Condition
Don’t Run Out Of Energy
bulletEat Properly To Keep Up Your Energy
bulletKeep Your Eyes On The Puck
No matter how many years you have been an on-ice official, or how many games you have done, a good referee is always interested in becoming a better official. As long as you are interested learning how to improve, you can consider yourself a true referee

We hope you enjoy the topics we have gathered in this section. If you would like to submit your own suggestions, please contact us and we will be glad to post the article. Referees have a lot to learn from each other. We also hope that players, coaches and fans will also read these articles to see the type of training and concerns that referees have.

Robert Kirwan, Publisher: After The Whistle


Chair of Organizing Committee of The NOHA SUMMIT - CHAPTER ONE Is Featured On Special Talk Radio Show After Very Successful Event

Robert Kirwan, host of The Learning Clinic Radio Show, which is broadcast live from Laurentian University on CKLU 96.7 FM, hosted a special After The Whistle show on August 22, 2011 with Joe McColeman, President of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League, which facilitates play at the Rep level for Districts 2 and 8 of the NOHA, namely for teams operating out of the Greater Sudbury Area.

Joe provided a very detailed overview of the league structure, including some background historical perspectives on how we have arrived at the state of hockey heading into the 2011-2012 season.

The Nickel District Minor Hockey League strives to provide boys and girls up to the end of midget, with competition that is fair, fun, inclusive and healthy at all levels. Joe is especially pleased to see that while "development" of players is a high priority among various associations, coaches and parents have been able to ensure that their children enjoy their entire hockey experience, including on- and off-ice activities and events.

The 2011-2012 season will be a turning point for the NDHL since the new Nickel City Hockey Association has attempted to merge all outlying communities into one association for rep level hockey. This should provide for more even competition between all teams in each division and will ensure that our stronger teams are definitely competitive when playing in tournaments this year.

You can listen to the full radio show by following the links below. You can also "watch" the show which was video recorded in its entirety if you prefer to watch on demand.


Robert Kirwan, host of The Learning Clinic Radio Show, which is broadcast live from Laurentian University on CKLU 96.7 FM, hosted a special After The Whistle show on August 22, 2011 with Joe McColeman, President of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League, which facilitates play at the Rep level for Districts 2 and 8 of the NOHA, namely for teams operating out of the Greater Sudbury Area.



The radio show with Joe McColeman of the NDMHL that was done above was also recorded on video and posted on Youtube. If you would prefer to "watch" the radio interview, you can do so by clicking on the following links:



Everything You Wanted To Know About The New Nickel City Hockey Association With President, Gus Lescault & Robert Kirwan on CKLU 96.7 FM

Robert Kirwan, host of The Learning Clinic Radio Show, featured Gus Lescault, President of the new Nickel City Hockey Association during the August 15, 2011 program. Gus explained in detail everything a person would want to know about the new association



Visit the web site at: www.nickelcityhockey.ca 

The radio show with Gus Lescault that was done above was also recorded on video and posted on Youtube. If you would prefer to "watch" the radio interview, you can do so by clicking on the following links:

NCHA Radio Show PART 1
NCHA Radio Show PART 2
NCHA Radio Show PART 3
NCHA Radio Show PART 4
NCHA Radio Show PART 5
NCHA Radio Show PART 6


Special Guest:: Jim McLoughlin, Novice Convenor; Valley East Minor Hockey Association
Recorded Live on August 8, 2011


Jim McLoughlin
Novice Convenor, VEMHA




bulletMike Ladouceur, Executive Director of Sportlink Sudbury;
bulletAndrew Brunette, N.H.L. hockey professional, Chicago Blackhawks;
bulletJim McLoughlin, Founder of the Valley East Renegades Athletic Association
bulletSam Yawney, CPGA Club Pro and owner of four golf courses in Greater Sudbury
bulletVince Palladino, former professional golfer and provincial champion
bulletRichard and Cathy Langlois of the Valley East Soccer Club
bulletNOHA Summit - Chapter One
bulletGus Lescault, President of the Nickel City Hockey League 
bulletValley East Ringette Association
bulletJoe McColeman of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League
bulletRobert Mazzuca of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League




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