The tears rarely, if ever, flowed from their faces, but their speeches were heartfelt and thankful as the Class of 2013 was formally inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
The class included former Women’s National Team player Cindy Curley, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, former college coach Ron Mason and former NHL forwards Bill Guerin and Doug Weight.
The star power wasn’t just limited to the stage. As present for the event were current NHL executives David Poile, Brian Burke, Jim Nill and Jim Rutherford, among others, and past U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk.
The inductees all reflected on their past experiences and what induction into the hall meant to them.
“When I got the call that I was inducted, I was in my car and I had to pull over,” Guerin said. “It reminded me of all the people who helped me get here, who helped me in a positive manner.”
Karmanos was the one of five who never played the game, and made that known early in is speech.
But that doesn’t diminish what he has been able to accomplish. His dedication to the game has helped in grow on both the youth and professional levels. His Compuware AAA midget teams have been greatly successful, as has the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. He reveled in what those he has worked with have also accomplished, including a Stanley Cup victory in Carolina in 2006.
“As a builder, you don’t have many stats or many medals, but you do get lots of rewards seeing those you work with get stats and medals,” he said.
Curley was one of the greatest women’s players on Providence College history. Here 225 points rank third in school history. She was a pioneer in the women’s game.
She talked about growing up and how her mom didn’t want her to play hockey, trying instead to steer her daughter toward calmer activities.
“I’m thankful my mom’s attempts to have music and trampoline lessons failed,” she said.
In her speech she recalled a time when a boy from her trampoline lessons shoved her, and she shoved back.
“My mom said that sticking up for yourself was a hockey trait,” she added.
Mason talked about how his coaching career almost never happened. He was in graduate school working toward becoming a teacher.
One day, he decided he didn’t want to go down that path.
“I came home one day and told my wife I was sick of school,” he said. “I told her that maybe I’d be a hockey coach and she said, ‘Well you don’t have any experience.’”
The rest, as they say, is history. Mason had success at three programs, accumulating 924 career wins, the second most in NCAA hockey history.
Weight, along with Guerin, was part of the golden age of American hockey players. He won a Stanley Cup in 2006 and an Olympic silver medal in 2002.
He talked about one of the defining moments of his childhood, the “Miracle on Ice” team that won gold in 1980 and how that inspired him.
“I’ll never forget sitting in our living room watching that game,” he said. “It changed my life. There was nothing more I wanted than to wear that USA sweater.”
But, perhaps most notably, Guerin and Weight made it known the respect they have for each other and how close they remain even in retirement.
Weight quipped that they wrote nearly identical speeches. Guerin joked, “We do nearly everything together. I played for Team USA, so he played for Team USA.”
But it was Mason who had one of the most notable quotes of the night. When talking about his success as a coach and how he inspired his players, he said it wasn’t about how many games you won, but just winning the next game.
“If you don’t care who gets the credit, it’s amazing what you can accomplish,” he said.
Let’s be honest: Officiating is far from easy. The fact that special skills (skating) are required to simply do our job, especially as the speed of hockey changes, it can make it downright hard.
Toss in the criticisms and “myths” that influence the world of hockey officiating and one can see how the environment can be difficult for the next wave of officials.
We tackled a few different officiating myths a few years back. In this second installment, we’ll take a look at some of the other more common misconceptions about officiating and the game.
Myth 1: “The best officials ‘manage’ the game and recognize some rules don’t need to be enforced.”
This is actually a repeat from the first edition, but it bears repeating. Considering an official’s primary role is to enforce the rules of the game to the best of their ability, this is one myth that becomes fairly easy to bust.
Nowhere in the rulebook, or any other education materials, does it suggest that a particular rule should not be enforced – ever. Yet, some officials feel it is their job to pick and choose what infractions they want to call or they simply ignore certain rules all together.
The problem is it’s impossible to pick and choose which rules to enforce on a consistent basis. Player safety is a MUST and is a critical part of the official’s job. Every official needs to set a tight standard as it relates to dangerous actions. However, in some cases we have officials who do a good job enforcing dangerous fouls but are lax when it comes to other infractions where injury potential is not as great.
In addition, what these officials are missing is the missed hook, hold or interference may have an even greater impact on the outcome of the game, as it often involves a scoring opportunity. After all, the object of the game is to score more goals then your opponent. The reality is an illegal act that takes away a scoring opportunity is no less important to the outcome of the game than an aggressive foul.
Myth 2: “Faceoffs don’t really matter as long as they are fair and even.”
Obviously, having a “fair” faceoff is important, and most people would agree that a faceoff is fair if both players cheating are even (i.e., as long as both forwards are encroaching the same distance, it is even and not a big deal, or both centers are turned slightly and don’t have their sticks in contact with the white portion of the faceoff spot – but they are even, so get the puck down).
However, the rules are there for a reason and, quite simply, are designed to improve the possibility that every faceoff is a fair faceoff.
Hockey takes a tremendous amount of skill, but there is one skill that every single player can do equally well and that is to stand behind a line; that is all that we are asking them to do during a faceoff. So why would we not expect them to do it for every single faceoff and instead settle for less?
If you really want fair faceoffs, establish the expectation from the opening faceoff of every game. Clearly communicate expectations and then hold the players accountable for meeting them. It won’t take players long to adjust, and if you do this at the start of the season and stick with it, no bad habits are formed and after the first few games faceoffs are not a problem.
Myth 3: “As long as the faceoff is fair, the location does not matter.”
Sticking with the faceoff theme, establishing the proper faceoff location is important in every instance, especially now that USA Hockey has gone with the nine-spot faceoff locations. The territorial difference between an end-zone faceoff and a neutral-zone faceoff is significant and can result in an immediate scoring opportunity. The official’s job when play stops is to have an awareness of where play stopped and then understand the rules to determine the proper location. Getting it right does matter to the integrity of the game and the best officials take pride in this area and earn respect as a result.
Myth 4: “The use of electronic scoresheets means officials are not responsible for making sure they are accurate.”
More and more leagues and rinks are using electronic scoring instead of the old hard-copy four-part scoresheet. In addition, more and more instances are occurring where penalties (mainly those involving potential suspensions) are recorded improperly and it creates confusion as to what was actually assessed and what, if any, discipline is required. This creates considerably more work for volunteer team managers and affiliate disciplinary personnel who now have to track the correct information down. To make matters worse, in many cases, the officials are not entered into the electronic scoring either.
The fact is, the use of electronic scoring is still an official document, and the referee has an obligation to ensure its accuracy at the end of every game. Part of that responsibility is to make sure the officials’ names are entered properly. Sure, it may take an extra minute or two to check versus the old hard-copy, but laziness is not a valid excuse for not completing your work.
Myth 5: “There is no avenue to hold officials accountable for misbehavior, so they are allowed to do anything they want.”
We all know that this is not true, but based on some of the stories submitted from the field, sometimes one has to wonder. There are situations where officials do act unprofessionally or inappropriately and there has to be accountability in those instances. Local officials groups or affiliates do have the authority and the responsibility to sanction officials who fall into these categories. We are not talking about missing a call or simply making a mistake. We are talking about situations where the integrity of the game is clearly compromised, such as the use of inappropriate language or using excessive force on a player.
Officials have to be above reproach to effectively do their jobs, and when one fails in this area, action needs to be taken by the proper authority. Turning a blind eye and not addressing it only feeds the misconception and makes all of our jobs more difficult.
So, there you have it. The takeaways from this go-around are pretty clear.