NHL linesman Devin Berg will hit the Barclays Center ice with an 87 on his back, but it’s another number that seems to be a point of interest: his age. When the Nashville Predators and New York Islanders face off just after 7pm, the 26-year-old Berg – the youngest official in the league – will be manning the bluelines.
Berg will make his NHL debut alongside veteran linesman Brian Murphy and referees Dave Jackson and Frederick L’Ecuyer. Murphy, a 27-year veteran with nearly 1,500 games under his belt, worked his first game before Berg was even born.
Berg most recently worked in the OHL, where he officiated the league’s 2015 Finals and the CHL’s Top Prospects Game. He was hired by the NHL coming out of this year’s Officiating Exposure Combine. It’s a quick ascent for an official who first donned the stripes in 2011.
“I think one of the reasons why I jumped [up the officiating ranks] so fast is because I was an ex-player and know the game well, I’m a good skater and I have good size,” Berg told the Stratford Beacon Herald. “The people around me have helped me and I’ve been like a sponge. Everyone I’ve worked with I’ve taken something from everyone.”
Berg will be splitting time this season between the NHL and the AHL, working 40 games in each league.
“I’m just super happy to be working in both of those leagues and getting that opportunity,” he said.
When Berg makes his debut, half the players on the ice will be older than the 26-year-old Ontario native, but that’s not a concern.
“Age to me doesn’t matter,” he said. “I don’t think my age will affect me because when you get to the NHL you’ve proven yourself to get there. Now you prove yourself to stick around.”
Best of luck to Devin on his NHL career — from us, and from Bob:
Met linesman Devin Berg on flight to NY today. He's working his 1st NHL game tomorrow (NSH @ NYI). Congrats and good luck, Devin.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 14, 2015