The NHL Officials Association is deeply saddened today to announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Mick McGeough. Mick was one of the true characters of our game and we will miss him immeasurably. Throughout his 21 year on-ice career and subsequent management role, Mick was always known for his wit, humour and ability to tell a great story. He reminded us constantly that hockey, even at the highest level, is meant to be fun and he leaves us with a hole that can never be filled. Our heartfelt condolences to his Wife, Angie and their beautiful family. We will forever miss our "Fair Judge".
Mick McGeough is one of the most genuine people ever to don a NHL officials jersey. But he was more than the character many hockey fans remember. He was a mentor, friend, teammate, coach, co-worker and a sure fire smile.
I was fortunate enough to be part of a group of NHL officials who graduated to the NHL a few years after Mick, I learned many things from just watching Mick but the defining characteristic of Mick is his magnetism: the man attracts a crowd - Curtis Joseph was famously drawn to him and knocked him over in a playoff game. Mick was a caricature of himself, he was humble and self effacing contradicting his public persona with his one foot in the air helicopter wave off signal or his multiple enthusiastic points at the net signifying a good goal. It was all classic Mick McGeough and I will miss him dearly.
Because Mick always had a story to tell, I have many memories involving Mick. His final year at training camp Mick sat among a small group sharing some memories, younger guys started to wander over and immediately Mick was in his element, the group pulling up chairs and relaxing on the floor, leaning inward - a magnetic force drawing them closer not wanting to miss a single word. The stories and the audience got bigger and bolder by the minute; Mick was at his glorious best - a truly wonderful moment for a wonderful man. It was the night the legend of the heroic pig was born, no one present will ever forget the pig who saved baby Mick by rolling him into a ditch.
Mick always knew and appreciated the ups and downs of life as an NHL official, in the 2006 playoffs - on his way to the Stanley Cup Finals, Mick and I worked a game where Edmonton eliminated Detroit and after the game we went for a walk to get some post game refreshments. We were outside of a restaurant and a fan recognized Mick and started chanting Mick McGeough!...Mick McGeough! ... as others in the crowd joined in, we retreated and walked down the street only to be followed by more people chanting and singing Mick McGeough! Mick McGeough!... we slipped into another restaurant, went out the back door and returned to our hotel. Mick McGeough was the toast of Edmonton!
The next season Mick disallowed an Edmonton goal due to an alleged hand pass and his Edmonton fan club immediately renounced their allegiance. Mick publicly admitted that there was a better call to be made to everyone who would listen. That’s the professional Mick and the man I admire so much - avoiding glory and taking responsibility.
Mick’s retirement “gala” was held in his beloved Regina - it was a fabulous weekend including my second witness of the chant: Mick McGeough! Mick McGeough! Word got out (as it does in Regina) that Mick McGeough and some friends were socializing in the restaurant and it erupted in a salute to Mick. The next evening was a picture perfect memory of a wonderful Saskatchewan night on the homestead, dancing like no one was watching and singing like no one was listening -with Mick and his family leading the way. It was perfect.
As he was preparing to leave the ice Mick became a mentor to AHL and rookie NHL officials. His experience and attitude served him well as an NHL Officiating Manager. He brought the same instinctive passion to coaching that he had on the ice, his humility, passion and respect for the game and the officials was his defining characteristic.
Mick also loved the art of the deal: horses, tractors, land, trailers and everything in between. He knew the market value of everything a true Saskatchewan/ family man/ horseman/ developer/ speculator/ businessman/ referee would ever need to know. His enthusiasm in his stories was matched only by his positive outlook on opportunity - Mick was always two steps ahead of himself. There was never a bad deal to be had and he knew that we knew that half of his story was half true but no one cared - it was supremely entertaining.
Mick’s legacy will live on, his work ethic and commitment serves as an inspiration to his children, every hockey official and his entire community.
I will miss his passion, I will miss his sincerity, I will miss his stories and I will miss my friend.