Today marks the starts of the 2014 preseason games in the National Hockey League. A total of 105 games will be played in the next two weeks including 12 off-site games in non-NHL cities.
What does the preseason means for the NHL on-ice officials? After a summer of working on their fitness level, getting some mental rest and well deserved family time, each official reports to training camp ready to learn the new rules for the upcoming season. The officials now needs to get into game shape! It’s pretty much like riding the bike, you would be a little rusty without riding, but you don't forget how to do it! The same applies for any sports officials! The first 10-20 minutes of the first preseason game will feel a little weird for these men but after that, everything will come back in place gradually. The toughest part is really to create new habits towards the new rules! Every NHL officials have been officiating hockey for a long time and breaking these old reactions for new ones represent a considerable challenge when you consider that every call or non-call is made in split second and in REAL TIME! These games are also a chance for some minor league officials under contract with the NHL to work some bigger games in order to acquire some experience in the “show”!
The preseason games are also a chance for some NHL officials to see different parts of the continent! In fact, there will be a total of 12 games played in non-NHL cities this year making this a little special for all officials involved. Nowadays, almost all NHL arenas are configured the same way and feel pretty much the same for the officials on the ice, going to a smaller or different building will bring some officials back in time; when they were working some minor hockey leagues games. Being closer to the fans, no “jumbotron” replays, no crazy advertisement boards everywhere in the arena, no tall glass protection all around the rink and no video replays will bring some old memories for these officials! One off-site preseason game is always a little special every year; the “Kraft Hockeyville” game. This year the winning community is Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Along with working the NHL preseason game, the NHLOA officials will also take part in an officiating clinic to give back to amateur hockey officials. The NHLOA is proud to be part of these festivities and is looking forward to be in Sylvan Lake this week. It is going to be an awesome week for this 15,000 people community who lost their arena last year when their arena’s roof collapsed.
The 2014-15 NHL regular season opens Wednesday October 8th.
Have a great start gentlemen!