Fraser: A look into the NHL official's 'quiet room'

Kerry Fraser
3/30/2012 12:19:10 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at!

We always get a feel of what teams do between periods, but what do refs do between periods?  Do you watch tape - see if anyone dove? Drink tea?
Denver, CO


Hi Sean:

Intermission is a time to relax, rehydrate, collect your thoughts individually or as a team and review any situations that might have occurred in the previous period. This all takes place in the relative quiet of The Officials' Man Cave!

Initial discussions will centre on specific game situations such as player tendencies (including diving!), player hostilities and provides an opportunity to formulate a game plan as how the team might handle future hot spots. Conversation of this nature occurs a few minutes at most. Intermission provides a time for a mental and emotional break.

Every NHL Official's dressing room is equipped with basic comfort food (fresh fruit, bagels, sandwiches but no donuts!). The ACC in Toronto has the very best catered food in the league that borders on fine dining. Vancouver also does a fantastic job in the food department.  Beverages consist of your normal sports drinks designed to replace electrolytes, juice and in most locations a beer or two for after the game. Guys don't eat much during intermissions other than fruit.

A digital clock/timing device linked to the official score clock provides the officials with accurate time remaining prior to their return to the ice in advance of the teams. The same device can be found in the team dressing rooms as well so there is no excuse for being late. If a team is not visible in the tunnel approaching the ice when the score clock hits 00:00 a bench minor penalty for delay of game is assessed.

A telephone is provided in every official's dressing room. The phone is utilized on occasion when Hockey Ops calls to discuss an issue with the referees or even make suggestions how they would like something handled in the next period. The officials can place a call to the Situation Room (Mission Control) as well if they would like to discuss something that might have occurred. Following a game the phone might ring if there was an incident that would require a report to be filed by the officials or on a potential suspension.  Most often the phone remains quiet.

A television monitor, complete with in-house feed of the game and cable/satellite, is standard equipment. One thing that is missing is the ability to have a replay fed to the television from the in-house video review booth. If the guys want to catch a second look at something they have to rely on the intermission feed that shows highlights. Chances are if they want to look at something it will be part of the intermission highlight package. (They could also phone upstairs to the video review official and ask him to describe a play and give his take on a play in question.) 

Some officials prefer the TV volume turned down while the majority desires to hear what the commentators have to say; which includes "Coaches Corner." I usually found Don and Ron entertaining (even when outrageous, as was often the case) but it didn't matter much to me what was on the television.  Most often the officials will surf the channels between periods and catch other games that are being played around the league.

Once any business is completed conversation generally is kept light. Unlike players that pretty much live together during the season the officials move around North America as independent businessmen and will catch up on small talk, family life and current events during the break.  On occasion officials are assigned to work together in pairs or as a team for a couple of consecutive games so future assignments or travel plans might be discussed.

As the clock ticks down and the five-minute warning is issued, the conversation changes to a more focused, game-centred thought process. Each official will reflect on what he has to do when he walks through the dressing room door and steps onto the ice. Controlled energy and emotion returns to each official as does his focus on the task at hand. With 2:30 left on the clock a verbal pump is generated by someone and the officials are led from the dressing room by the senior referee and onto the ice.

It's all business from this point until the next intermission and a safe return to the Official's Man Cave or at the end of the game handshakes signal an end and job well done. At that point someone (usually the junior man) will say, "Anyone want a cold beer and a sandwich?"

For a personally autographed copy of Final Call from TSN hockey analyst and former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, visit The Book Keeper website.

For a regular copy of Final Call from TSN hockey analyst and former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, visit here.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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