By Mark Lichtenfeld. Originally published at


Respect. Normally defined as follows:

Noun: 1. A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements.

Yeah, I know, you read OS for the gritty of amateur hockey officiating, not for a late-night cram session before the English 101 midterm. But please, bear with me.

See, us veteran hockey officials aren’t going out there looking to punish people. That’s not our style. We’re reactive. If something happens which is contrary to the published rules of the game, it is our obligation to step in.

So that’s what we do. We step in. Because it’s our job to respect players, parents and coaches.

Yup, so next time little Buster does his Billy Smith imitation on the offensive PeeWee in front of the crease, causing the veteran zebra to shut the play down for a slashing minor, it’s not because we believe in punishing the brat. No. We respect the young netminder. And so does the poor sap who’s got to sit the minor for the goaltender penalty. Got that, parents?

Likewise, when I’m doing the late-night beer league thing and Mr. Toothless defender lifts his stick off the ice and tries to sell an icing call, I don’t wave off the icing to punish him. No way. I keep play moving because I respect the guy’s skating ability and my religion teaches never to embarrass a fellow hockey guy by assuming he lacks proper skating ability to chase down a biscuit.

Respect. A feeling of deep admiration for someone’s abilities, qualities or achievements.

Someone mention coaches? Sure, us veteran zebras know that you coaches are spot-on with the rules. Like the Start of Game provisions promulgated in the USA Hockey rulebook. So when the game is scheduled for 8:00 and we tell the scorekeeper to start the clock at 8:00 even though your squad is nowhere to be found, it’s not that we’re trying to punish you. Truth is, we respect your ability to bring a functioning timepiece or cell phone into the locker room and accordingly, expect you to timely take the ice. I mean, if we were to wait to start the warm-up until you brought your team out, then we would effectively be disrespecting your ability to read a clock and would further be disrespecting the rink manager and the following game by not keeping things punctual.

Naturally, us veteran officials would never engage in that type of disrespect.

Hey, you beer league guy on the South Rink last month. Yeah, the one we tossed for being third-man-in. Wish you would have seen this article before you decided to disrespect the USA Hockey rulebook. I mean, you saw that we had a delayed penalty for cross checking assessed to your opponent. So why couldn’t you suck it up for the team? We know that’s what you always preach to your teammates. As a result, we assessed the third-man-in infraction and ordered you out of the game. To be sure, we respect your knowledge of the rules. We didn’t punish you for your actions. Our penalty was one of compassion, to better you. Because we respect you.

And by the way, real cute that you had a video of the entire incident and tried to plead your case with the rink manager and the referee association.  Here’s the link that you published. Anyone is free to take a look. Yup, that’s our desert beer league. The incident starts at 2:45 in (

And for you viewing public, please be advised that the local association was in receipt of both our incident report and the aforementioned video. Result? The association president fully supported our cross-checking major and third-man-in penalty.

That’s the kind of respect I like.


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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.