The NHL’s referees and linesmen are currently working hard in Collingwood, Ontario for the NHL Officials’ Training Camp. The camp is normally a week long, and follows closely what the players will be going through with their respective teams in a few weeks.
The NHL Officials Association moved their camp to the Blue Mountains in 2006. The NHLOA is in its eighth straight season training at Beaver Valley Arena.
Here’s a peek at camp from the NHL:
“The area itself is really conducive to learning. There seems to be a real peace up there. It’s the one time our guys get to come together, and it’s great that we have a place that welcomes us. It’s helped us go from a ‘me’ culture to a ‘we’ culture. Maybe it’s the facilities, maybe it’s the camp structure, maybe it’s all of the above, but it seems to relax people when they get outside of a big city.”
“[Holding the camp in the Blue Mountain] allows the guys to focus on what we’re doing collectively the coming year. We didn’t really have the team concept before [coming to The Blue Mountains]. Now that’s the theme at camp. We’re the 31st team in the NHL.”
Referee Dan O’Halloran also spoke very highly of the community. “I can’t say enough about how well we are treated,” said O’Halloran, adding that the volunteers who cook and clean at the community center while the officials have classes there make him feel at home. “All those people, I know, appreciate us coming up there. They treat us great. It makes the week go by quickly when you feel comfortable with your surroundings.”
“We are fortunate to work with fantastic people from the community who play an important role in the success of our training camp,” NHL Officiating Manager Johanna Mikkola said after last season’s camp. “It is because of these dedicated individuals and the great community in The Blue Mountains that we look forward to our time there each year.”
New Officials in Camp
The NHL Officials Association also welcomes two new additions to the officiating crew this year. Participating in camp will be newly-hired refereed Kendrick Nicholson and Garrett Rank. Both officials are expected to officiate this season in the American Hockey League.
Training Camp Schedule
The NHL Officials gave a rundown of camp from a previous season, to offer a peek into what goes on. (Again, this is from an earlier camp, so the specific day-to-day schedule may be different, but it gives you an idea as to what happens in camp):
- Every day: Group fitness session at 7am.
- Day 2: Medical examinations, including blood tests, EKG, body fat calculation, orthopedic exam, heart and lung check, eye exam [hold your jokes, please] and general physical. Previous injuries and ailments are reviewed and evaluated.
- Day 3: Fitness testing, conducted by NHL Officials’ trainer, David T. Smith. Fitness biking with a specific program based on age, weight, etc., to measure endurance, leg strength, and aerobic/anaerobic capacity (Wingate test). Flexibility testing is followed by push ups and sit-ups, set to a slow, steady pace with a metronome to test upper body and abdominal strength. Receive new equipment for the upcoming season. Wrap up with meetings on rules, players’ equipment, and arena/building/ice conditions.
- Day 4: Rules. Meetings to discuss rule interpretations and rule changes, including plays from last season that may have changed under a new interpretation of the rulebook. Review the NHL Casebook, a supplment to the NHL rulebook covering practical applications of the rules. Afternoon sessions cover travel, security, and psychology — both from a sports perspective and on a personal level. Skating drills wrap up the day, with a focus on balance, agility, and power strokes.
- Day 5: On-ice work in the morning. Afternoon meetings focused on a review of penalties, including video review and discussion led by NHL management regarding specific penalties and consistency in calls.
- Day 6: Review questions, concerns, and any gray-areas from previous discussions that may need further discussion. Review and discuss more video of good penalties and bad calls. Skating tests in the afternoon to gauge fitness and skating ability. The drills are job-specific, so a referee’s assessment would be different from that of a linesman.
- Day 7: Review, pack up, head out.
The NHL Officials Association holds its annual meeting during the week-long camp. They also find time for an officials’ hockey tournament that’s open to the public.
Good luck, boys. Brush off that dust and shake off that rust. The NHL season will be here before you know it.