Sports

Stanley Cup final was grueling for the refs, too

The 2011 Stanley Cup final was the second consecutive for Kelly Sutherland, who hails from Richmond, has had the honour of officiating.   - NHL photo
The 2011 Stanley Cup final was the second consecutive for Kelly Sutherland, who hails from Richmond, has had the honour of officiating.
— image credit: NHL photo

The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks aren’t the only ones who need a rest.

So do the NHL officials who worked the Stanley Cup final.

“In adding up the air miles in this round alone I think I travelled 16,000 miles in the last two weeks,” said Kelly Sutherland, one of four referees selected to work the championship series. “That’s one of the most tiring parts of the series, (which went the full seven games).

“Then of course there’s the mental drain from the intensity. It’s an honour to work the final, but I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family which I haven’t seen much in the last nine-and-a-half months.”

The 2011 Stanley Cup final was the second consecutive for Sutherland, who hails from Richmond, has had the honour of officiating.

“It was great to be part of it again, and to share (the experience) with the seven other on-ice officials and the whole off-ice department,” he said. “They’re just a great group of people.”

Sutherland, 40, said for an official it is no less an honour to work the final than it is for a player to reach the championship series. It’s something you spend your entire career striving for.

The Stanley Cup Final also brings with it heightened interest and scrutiny. But Sutherland said the officials, like the players, are so focused on the job at hand they don’t notice or hear any of the outside forces—such as the fans.

“You know it’s loud but you hear the fans like white noise,” he said.

Sutherland credits many people for his ascent in hockey—from family to mentors such as former NHL referees Bill McCreary, Kerry Fraser, Dan Marouelli and Rob Shick.

“When I got to the NHL (his first NHL game was Dec. 19, 2000 in Los Angeles) there were so many good guys on staff. I tried to take the best from each of them and improve that way,” Sutherland said. “It’s gone so fast. I’ve known Dan O’Halloran, Dan O’Rourke and Stephen Walkom (who also refereed this year’s Stanley Cup Final) for so long, but we’re still pretty young at heart.”

Sutherland’s offseason will be a short one. The 2011-12 NHL pre-season is less than three months away, and while he’s hoping to squeeze in a short holiday this summer, he’s already planning to be back in the gym Monday.

“We’re usually training all year, trying to keep our cardio levels up, but it’s hard with the schedule” he said. “Probably 60 to 70 per cent of the intensity workouts, we do in the off-season. You need to stay lean and strong, and you want to be quick.”

 

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