Referee Gord Dwyer (Courtesy NHLOA)

Referee Gord Dwyer (Courtesy NHLOA)

Referee Gord Dwyer is a good guy.  When he sees someone in need, he’s quick to help out.

Even if that guy is a player on the ice in a game Dwyer’s officiating.

With the Lightning trailing by one goal late in the third period, Tampa center Steven Stamkos suffered a broken skate.  Unable to skate, he rose to one foot and was pushed to the bench by Dwyer.   This may not have been a big deal if the player who replaced him didn’t assist on the game-tying goal moments later.

Thankfully – for Penguins fans and conspiracy theorists – Pittsburgh battled back and regained the lead less than three minutes later.  The Pens went on to win 5-4.  But what if the Lightning had rallied for the victory?

Here’s the play in question:

Former referee Kerry Fraser broke it down at

The Ref’s human instinct here was to assist a player that was placed in harm’s way … This wasn’t ‘Star treatment’ that was being extended by Dwyer, but legitimate concern for a player’s well-being. The courtesy of providing two strides and a shove by the Ref was creative and would have been done for all the right reasons.

There’s no official policy on assisting a player that has sustained an injury or broken a skate and is attempting to make his way to the bench under his own power while handing a player that has lost his stick is a definite no-no. A policy might be instituted as a result of this intervention by Referee Dwyer but that remains to be seen.

I will tell you that I have instinctively helped more than one injured player to his bench as play continued and even one with a broken skate that had no adverse effect. I know that many other Officials have done the same with regard to injured players. We not only want to ensure the player gets medical attention quickly but also to keep the play moving for game flow.


Due to the ultimate scoring of the goal it is easy to suggest that an unfair advantage was offered by the Referee to the Tampa Bay Lightning. I believe that in this situation the Referee acted creatively and instinctively to assist a player that was in a difficult position without disrupting the flow of play.

Unless Stephen Walkom issues a firm “hands off” policy to the Officials in situations such as this (hindsight aside), what Referee Gord Dwyer did speaks to the humanness of the Referees and Linesmen that place the well being of players first.

Head on over to read the rest of Kerry’s thoughts over at TSN.   Stay golden, Gord. Always be that good guy.  Never change.