Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

NHL comes to aid of verbally abused young referee

  • Print

THE NHL's officials have the back of a 14-year-old minor hockey ref­eree from Winnipeg.

It's a good thing, because after what the young man went through on the ice recently, no one would blame him if he walked away from refereeing.

$On March 5, the boy was officiating a boys' 9A1 playoff hockey game be­tween St. Boniface Red and River East White when he made a call in overtime on the game's winning goal. The River East team disagreed with the call and the team's four adult male coaches im­mediately began shouting and swearing at the young referee.

NHL officiating manager Danny Mc- Court, who read about the verbal abuse the young referee endured in a story on the Free Press editorial page last week, said he wanted to offer support and en­courage the young man to stay in the game.

"To find out that the referee was only 14 years old and to have four grown adults (behave that way), it upset me enough. My whole idea was to let the young fellow know that 'we know what you are going through and you're not alone,' " said McCourt, who is in Win­nipeg to supervise AHL officials in the Manitoba Moose-Grand Rapids Grif­fins playoff games.

He contacted Hockey Manitoba ref­eree- in-chief Ian Heather who was able to arrange a meeting with the young official, who was so upset by the inci­dent that he declined to be identified or interviewed for this story.

"This kind of abuse can not continue because we're losing young officials," Heather said. "We can't afford to lose young officials. With Hockey Canada's initiatives, we're all supposed to be partners in the game -- players, coach­es, officials and parents. But still, we have these situations."

McCourt and David Banfield, the head official at tonight's AHL game, will include the boy in their pre-game meal. He'll be present in the referees' room for the officials' pre-game prep­aration and post-game meeting. Moose GM Craig Heisinger provided accredit­ation for the young official to sit in the press box with McCourt.

"It is just a little bit of camaraderie from minor hockey, through the AHL and right up through the NHL. I just hope he stays involved in officiating," said McCourt, who not long ago had a similar visit with a young female in Ontario who was verbally abused. That girl did quit reffing.

"I want (the Winnipeg boy) to know that there's a lot more satisfaction that will come out over games during the season than there will be disappoint­ments."

Garth Loeppky, an elite Manitoba of­ficial who worked the recent ANAVET Cup junior A series as a referee and was a linesman in Friday's Moose-Griffins game, said he had "flashbacks" when he heard about the incident.

"I've been officiating now for the last 14 years and I've had a fan try to attack me in my own referee's room after a game, I was cross-checked in the teeth by a player and I've been verbally be­rated by coaches too, as recent as this season," said Loeppky, one of just four Level VI officials in Manitoba. "The job isn't about doing what is popular, it's about doing what's right. That's often very difficult for people to see. They also don't see how much heart officials put into it. I worry that he (young ref­eree) will think that it's his own fault that the coach abused him. There is no excuse for the abuse and it is not his fault."

The young official's mother said her son's ordeal was compounded as he left the rink with his dad that day when one of the player's mothers began shouting at him in the parking lot.

"I'm just so proud of (my son) for the person he is," the official's mom said. "He's very good at what he does, passes his tests with flying colours and he's quietly confident in his abilities. He told me 'I'm not going to let someone like that take this away from me.' "

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg police address homicides targeting homeless community

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.
  • Down the Hatch- A pelican swallows a fresh fish that it caught on the Red River near Lockport, Manitoba. Wednesday morning- May 01, 2013   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google