Linesman Kevin Collins spent 28 years in stripes, from 1977 to 2005, manning the bluelines in the National Hockey League. The native of Springfield, Massachusetts, handled nearly 2,000 games, including 12 Stanley Cup Finals, two All-Star Games, and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.
Collins, now an Official Supervisor for the National Hockey League, was recently honored by the Chicopee Moose Club:
On Saturday night, the Chicopee Moose Club was filled with the family and friends of Kevin Collins. He was surrounded by friends and colleagues from throughout his career, including other hockey officials from the NHL, AHL, and NCAA.
Collins told 22News his Dad inspired him to be the best, saying, “One of the things he always said was whatever you choose to do in life, it doesn’t matter. It’s how you do it. If you are best at it, you’ll be successful. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a menial worker or whatever, but just be the best.”
Collins certainly had some memorable moments during his 28 years in the NHL.
Some of Collins’ more memorable games included Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals between the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks.
He was the linesmen who held back a celebration of over 18,000 when he whistled the Rangers for icing in the final seconds of a 3-2 game — a play that Rangers’ former GM Neil Smith still can’t believe.
“No one can still get over that [icing call],” Smith said. “If you watch the replays, Bure gave up on it. We dump it down and he’s going after it and he just quits, but then he looks at Collins and goes and gets it.”
The Rangers – on the faceoff skills of the helmetless Craig MacTavish – went on to win that final faceoff, the game, and the Stanley Cup.
Collins was also well-known for breaking up altercations. “That’s when I get the most exposure,” Collins said. “When I’m getting the bleep knocked out of me.” Here’s Craig Berube, doing just that:
Former NHL referee Paul Stewart spent many years on the ice with Collins. He offered his thoughts on the retired linesman. “They should at least rightfully put longtime NHL linesman Kevin Collins in the U.S. [Hockey Hall of Fame]. He was one of the best NHL linesmen for many, many years.”
Current NHL referee Tom Kowal also spoke highly about Collins. From his induction into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame:
I think the greatest thing I can say about Kevin is his loyalty and love for his officiating teammates, his friends and his family. Kevin is one of those people who you call once and ask for help and before you can turn around he is standing beside you there to help in anyway he can. He and his wife Mary have three grown children, who have gone on to wonderful careers of their own. Success breeds success and the Collins family is a great example of that.
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