Springfield, MA native, Collins was an NHL linesman from 1977 to 2005. He retired from the ice in 2005 and took an Officiating Manager position with the National Hockey League for a few years before calling it a career in 2014. Tonight, he will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Boston, MA along with the rest of the 2017 Class; Boston University coach Jack Parker, ex-U.S. women’s Olympic team coach Ben Smith, former NHL coach Ron Wilson and ex-NHL player Scott Young. He will become tonight only the second official to be inducted into the officiating category, the only other one being William “Bill” Chadwick who got inducted into this prestigious group 43 years ago.
His impressive résumé include more than 2,000 NHL games (1,964 NHL Regular Season Games and 296 NHL Playoffs Games) as a linesman. His journey of 28 seasons on the ice with the NHL (1977-2005), include 12 appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals and saw him being assigned to work; four Canada Cup tournaments, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, the 1998 Olympic Winter Games and three NHL All-Star Games (1985 Calgary,1988 St.Louis and 1993 Montreal). His 296 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs rank as the most by an American official and his 32 games in the Stanley Cup Finals place him second among American officials behind William “Bill” Chadwick. “K.C.” like his peers and players used to call him, a well-respected individual among the NHLOA, also served on the executive board for several years including a term as president of the association.
Collins was also a pioneer in the development of officiating as a whole. In 1974, he founded the Western New England School of Officiating which, at the time, was the only officiating school conducted in the U.S. and provided the foundation for hundreds of budding professional officials. In 1983, Collins helped USA Hockey create its Officiating Summer Development Camp program and its officiating manual series, both of which remain in use and serve as core components of USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program. Collins also taught at numerous USA Hockey officiating camps and seminars. Over the years, he also volunteered countless hours to the Massachusetts amateur hockey program.
Collins started officiating in 1970 while playing hockey for the American International College in Springfield MA. After one of their practice, the local rink manager came in their room and said that they we’re starting an in-house weekend league for kids and that they needed referees and thought that some of them would like to give it a try and earn $2 a game! His former college teammate at the time and now ex-NHL player Dave Forbes got him to sign up for it. Then four years later, after finishing a two-year minor-league playing career with the Johnstown Jets and after getting a day job working towards becoming a probation officer, Collins started officiating games on nights and weekends on a more regular basis and getting more serious about it. His integrity, athleticism and strong skating ability made him a prime prospect early on. He would attend the American Hockey League (AHL) officiating camps for the following two seasons. The fact that the AHL was holding his camps in his hometown of Springfield also helped him in being recruited to work the minor league. John D’Amico (former NHL Linesman and Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee), who was running the AHL camps with former NHL lineman Matt Pavelich, recommended Collins to Scotty Morrison who was the NHL referee-in-chief at the time, to hire him. Fortunately, Morrison listened to his veteran linesman and offered Collins an NHL linesman contract the following summer. Collins would go on and work from 1977 to 2005 as a NHL linesman; he retired after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, where the entire season was canceled. He then took on a new challenge, accepting an officiating manager position with the NHL to work primary with the scouting and development of the NHL and minor league linesmen. He retired from his manager position in 2013. Kevin is married to his wife Mary and still resides in Springfield, MA. He has three children; Kevin Jr., Lauren and Christopher and is a proud grandfather to four grandchild.
The NHLOA would like to congratulate Alumni Kevin Collins for this induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and wishes him success in all of his futures projects. Well-done “K.C”!