In the offseason, Kevin Freheit over at Sabres Hockey Central sat down for a chat with NHL referee Paul Devorski. The 24-year veteran has donned the stripes for more than 1,500 NHL games, including regular season and playoffs. He worked the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and refereed both the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.
Some highlights on life as a referee:
KF: How much travel is involved, compared to that of players?
PD: There’s actually quite a bit of travel. You figure with 30 cities, they try to make sure that you see each city or each team the same amount of times. They don’t want me seeing Washington 10 times and only seeing New Jersey two times. It’s hard to do, but they try to travel you around so you get to see every team X amount of times, so that keeps you busy. Our road trips are anywhere from a week to 10 days. Then you come home for 4-5 days and then you go on the road again.
KF: What do referees go through on a daily basis? What are some things that fans don’t realize?
PD: I’ll tell you what. The difference between us and the team is after the game, the team that’s playing that game, that visiting team are getting on a bus going right to the airport, and they’re flying to that next game. With us, if i’m working in LA i’m doing that game, I’m going back to the hotel, I’m getting up early in the morning, and I’m taking a flight to Phoenix to get to my next game. For the most time, we’re traveling by ourselves.
KF: What’s the best part of the job?
PD: The best part of the job is doing the game itself. The three hours that you’re on the ice, doing that game. I find it most enjoyable. Honestly, the travel gets wear and tear on you, but the best part I find is doing the game, especially if you do a good job and everyone is happy, then you walk away that night, go back to the room and have a beer.
KF: I’ve heard many people say that if you aren’t noticed during the game, then you’re doing your job right. Would you agree with that?
PD: I would agree with that. In the old days that was more the case. I think nowadays with the media and the coverage, they seem to focus more on your personal life. If you do a good job, that night, you don’t really hear anything. If you miss a couple of calls, well there’s bloody hell for that. They seem to notice when you have a bad game. They never notice when you have a good one.
Case in point: Russian Machine Never Breaks weighs in on Devo’s night refereeing Caps/Avs on November 10:
Troy Brouwer got clipped up high in the first. Jason Chimera got kinda-sorta boarded in the first. Marcus Johansson got held in the first. Alex Ovechkin got high-sticked in the second. Martin Erat got boarded in the third. No calls on those, but as soon as [Caps forward] Jason Chimera had a sassy mouth he got marched off to the penalty box. Paul Devorski, in case you were wondering.
KF: Is there such a thing as make up calls in the NHL?
PD: Well, I’m going to say in today’s game, that we don’t do make ups. You might have got a way with it when the game was on the radio back when hockey wasn’t a big TV product. Today with TV, guys don’t make up calls. They just dont do it because if it’s not a penalty, we shouldn’t be calling it.
For the record, Kerry Fraser disagrees.
For the full interview and more from Kevin, head over to Sabres Hockey Central