Referee Justin St. Pierre is in his twelfth season in the National Hockey League. The 46-year-old native of Dolbeau, Quebec, is nearing the 1000-game mark, a milestone he’ll likely reach in the next few seasons.

La Premiere Ronde’s Alexandre Bissonnette recently spoke with the veteran official.

“I started like all young people,” St. Pierre said, who officiated in Midget AAA before moving up to work in the QMJHL for three years.  “Then I went to the [ECHL, and] then the American [Hockey] League for two years.”

St. Pierre signed an NHL contract in 2003 while still working in the minors.  He made his National Hockey League debut on November 9, 2005, refereeing a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

 

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The veteran official talked with Bissonnette about dealing with criticism from fans, players, and coaches, and the need to develop a thick skin.

“You don’t have a choice,” he said. “You have a job to do and you can’t please everyone.”

While officials know they can’t please everyone, they do their best to maintain open lines of communication with those at ice-level.

“[Communication is] 60% of your game,” said St. Pierre. “[You don’t have to] be friends with them, but to have good communication.”

St. Pierre knows he works under a microscope. He’s doing his best to leverage the same technology as his critics to improve as an official.

“I always watch videos. I’m on my iPad, on my computer, and I watch the games [and] the calls I make,” St. Pierre told Bissonnette. “There is always room for improvement.”

 

St. Pierre will be running a refereeing school over the summer to help develop young officials. The camp will run from August 3-5 and will include NHL linesman Michel Cormier.  For more info, visit http://ecolearbitragehockeyjsp12.ca/

“I’ve been talking about this idea for a few years and I decided to go ahead.  We want to encourage young people to officiate in hockey,” St-Pierre told Le Quotidien. “There are not many referees, young people [get] discouraged and [give up]. We will try to get the kids in there.”

Here’s more from St. Pierre, in French:

 

Read the full interview with St. Pierre over at La Premiere Ronde. Thanks to Alexandre Bissonnette for sharing!