August 15, 2012

Schachte aims to help Hockey East reach new heights

By Shawn Hutcheon

The Hockey East Association is arguably the best college hockey conference in the United States. After winning four of the last five national championships (Boston College in 2008, 2010, 2012; Boston University in 2009), the league has earned the right to boast.

Hockey East has another reason to brag with the naming of former National Hockey League linesman Dan Schachte as its new Coordinator of Officials. The Wisconsin native enjoyed an illustrious NHL career that began in 1982 and came to its conclusion in 2012. Along the way, Schachte officiated in 2,009 NHL regular season games, which ranks him fifth all-time among NHL officials and first among American-born whistleblowers. Schachte was on the ice for 221 postseason contests, which included five Stanley Cup finals (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002). He was also selected to work in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I pinch myself when I think that I worked in the NHL,” Schachte said when asked to describe the experience of working for the National Hockey League. “I pinched myself then and I still do it now. God smiled on me to be able to work in the NHL.”  

As much as Schachte enjoyed his 30 years on the ice, he is ready to take over Hockey East’s officiating department.

“This is the next chapter. I’m ready to do it,” Schachte said. “Hockey East is first class all the way from Commissioner Joe Bertagna to the school athletic directors to the coaches. They’ve been great. I pinch myself about this opportunity, too.”

Bertagna is looking forward to the addition of Schachte and what he will bring to Hockey East.

“All of our previous supervisors did a terrific job in overseeing our officiating program and they did so with limited resources,” Bertagna told New England Hockey Journal. “With Dan, we have a veteran of 30 years in the NHL and we have a commitment from our directors to provide unprecedented resources in this area. I am looking forward to working with Dan and I believe our officials are as well."

As the Coordinator of Officials, Schachte will wear different hats, such as those of teacher, coach and human resources.

“The officiating crew is enthusiastic,” he said. “You need good officiating to have a good league. Hockey East has good officials and we want to make them better.”

The new officiating boss will incorporate proven methods to improve upon some of college hockey’s best men in stripes.

“The Boston area has some very good officials who work in the American Hockey League,” said Schachte. “They don’t receive a lot of supervision and they need somewhere to work with supervision. We can help develop them for the National Hockey League.”

Schachte will also take a technological approach to working with his staff.

“We’ll change a little bit of the culture by using video as a teaching tool,” he said. “We’ll use our own video and not that of the schools’ to take a more positive approach when teaching things, such as managing the game and positioning. I’ll also be talking with them (the officiating staff) before and after games and during the week. Negativity is the kiss of death, and being positive helps make the officials, and the games, better.”

Schachte, like many fans, would like to see the games officiated with a higher level of consistency. He acknowledged that perhaps the No. 1 question fans have is why an apparent infraction of the rules in the first period is a penalty but that may not always be the case in the third period.

“The standard will be a huge issue with the NCAA this year and I want to have the standard adhered to,” Schachte said. “If it’s a penalty in the first period, it’s one in the third period.”

Schachte went on to compare the situation with that of his former employer.

“After the (2004-2005) NHL lockout, there were a lot of naysayers saying we wouldn’t be able to adhere to the new way of calling a game and the guys (referees and linesmen) just said, ‘tell us what to do,’ and we did it,” he said. “I know our guys in Hockey East will be the same way.”  

Schachte hopes all of these plans will help him accomplish his primary objective.

“My goal is to help make Hockey East the best amateur league on the planet,” he said.

After being one of the best on-ice officials on the planet, college hockey fans can feel confident that Schachte will achieve that goal with Hockey East.

Shawn Hutcheon can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.