Across all sports, shortage of officials at the younger ages is a growing concern. Hockey is in dire need of a recruiting push for young, dedicated officials who want to give back to the game and carve out a vastly rewarding, if not demanding, career.
There is no better role model than Stephen Walkom, a North Bay, Ont., native who currently serves as director of officiating for the National Hockey League. Walkom worked as an NHL on-ice official from 1990 to 2004, then again from 2009-13. He officiated more than 600 regular-season games, 84 Stanley Cup playoff games, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, 2004 World Cup of Hockey and two Stanley Cup finals. Walkom also was president of the National Hockey League Officials Association, the labor union that represents NHL referees and linesmen.
He returned to his position as the NHL’s director of officiating in August 2013. Billy Jaffe caught up with Walkom this summer.