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Fraser: How the work is split when an official has to leave

Kerry Fraser
1/23/2014 2:25:53 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca.

Dear Kerry,
 
On Thursday night in the Chicago/Detroit game, linesman Steve Barton was forced to leave the game due to an injury.
 
I´ve got two questions regarding this situation:
 
1. Are there any common rules how referees and linesmen split their responsibilities after such a situation happened?
2. How many referees (linesmen) is "enough" to finish the game? Is it possible to finish the game with only one referee (linesman) left? (e.g. hypothetically three referees are forced to leave the game)
 
Looking forward to your answers.
 
With best wishes from Slovakia,
Peter Bartisek
 
Hi Peter:

C'mon Ref is pleased to receive your question from the beautiful country of Slovakia and with the International Games of the Winter Olympics soon to begin.

Thank you for your concern for linesman Steve Barton when he was forced to leave the game in Chicago with an injury. 'Barts' is an outstanding linesman and truly one of the great guys on staff. It appears he may have sustained a slight concussion from a hit to the head sustained on Monday night in Phoenix. We wish Steve a full and speedy recovery.

Rule 32.6 provides general provisions when a linesman is unable to continue; "Should a Linesman appointed be unable to act at the last minute or through sickness or accident be unable to finish the game, the Referees shall have the power to appoint another in his stead, if they deem it necessary, or if required to do so by the Manager or Coach of either of the competing teams. If no replacement Linesman is available, the two Referees will assist the remaining Linesman with his duties while still retaining their ability to assess penalties when deemed appropriate."

In the practical application the two Referees assist the remaining linesman with his duties. The Linesman conducts all end zone face-offs and the lead referee (backing up in advance of the play) picks up the first offside call at the lead blue line and also will make the call on the new hybrid icing rule either by waving the play good or blowing his whistle when he determines icing has been committed. The "Junior" referee conducts neutral zone face-offs. He would most likely assist the Linesman in breaking up fights as well; although it might be agreed upon that the larger of the two referees would perform this physical duty!

In the event that three officials were forced to leave the game or were perhaps unable to arrive at the rink due to weather or unforeseen circumstance the authority to appoint replacements is spelled out in rule 31.11. "If, owing to illness or accident, one of the Referees is unable to continue to officiate, the remaining Referee shall perform the duties of the ill or injured Referee during the balance of the game. In the event that a member of the League's Hockey Operations or Officiating departments is in attendance at a game where a spare official is present, he shall have the authority to substitute the injured Referee with a spare.

If through misadventure or sickness, he Referees and Linesmen appointed are prevented from appearing, the League will make every attempt to find suitable replacement officials, otherwise, the Managers or Coaches of the two Clubs shall agree on Referee(s) and Linesman(men). If they are unable to agree, they shall appoint a player from each side who shall act as Referee and Linesman; the player of the home Club acting as Referee and the player of the visiting Club as linesman."

Members of the off-ice crew are typically high level amateur or minor professional hockey officials and could be appointed to act as substitute referees and linesmen if necessary. We have seen situations where this has happened in the past.

Peter in Slovakia and all the rest of your fans wish you a speedy recovery 'Barts.'

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 cmonref@tsn.ca!


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

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