Linesman Ryan Gibbons is wrapping up his first season as an NHL linesman.
He made the jump to the show from Canada’s Western Hockey League, where he spent four years working the lines, also picking up AHL duties in 2014, including the 2015 Calder Cup Finals.
He’d always dreamed of making the NHL, but he never expected to do it as an official. Then a right winger, he was drafted in 2003 by the Arizona Coyotes, taken in the 8th round, 178th overall. While the 6-foot-4 forward spent some time in the ECHL, it took a change in jerseys for him to see some NHL action. After working his way up the officiating ladders, Gibbons made his NHL debut on October 8, 2015.
He sat down with FoxSports earlier this season to talk about making the jump and his first NHL season.
Here’s more on Gibbons from the WHL:
“It was a dream come true,’ said Gibbons in regards to officiating his first NHL game. “I actually got to work with other former WHL officials with Tom Kowal, Shane Heyer and Graham Skilliter so it was pretty special. It was a neat bond we had there as well.”
“I was definitely nervous when I first stepped onto the ice,” Gibbons added. “Once the puck dropped and that first play came across my line, it all fell into place and I was able to lean back on my experience and enjoy working the game.”
Along with officiating WHL regular season and playoff games, the 29-year-old native of Vancouver, BC gathered significant officiating experience at national events. Gibbons saw work as a linesmen at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, SK, and also served as a linesmen for the duration of the 2014 WHL Championship Series between the Portland Winterhawks and Edmonton Oil Kings. For the recent graduate of the WHL’s Officiating Program, Gibbons indicated that his development in the WHL certainly played a major role on helping him reach the professional ranks.
“Kevin Muench and his staff provided a really supportive environment for me to develop as an official,” said Gibbons. “I definitely owe a lot to Kevin and all the other supervisors across the WHL. The dedication they have to their scouting and development of officials is evident because I learned just as much from my fellow officials there as well. It’s a real good staff they’ve put together.”
Gibbons is just one of many NHL officials to have gained knowledge and experience during their time in the WHL. Current NHL referees including Brad Meier and Kelly Sutherland are amongst former WHL officials to have reached the highest level in the profession.