Many NHL players and officials like to spend their offseasons golfing. They’re going to have some steep competition next summer, as the latest official to join the NHL is quite accomplished on the links.
Referee Garrett Rank, a top amateur golfer, is the latest addition to the NHL Officials Association. The 27-year-old Rank, a native of Elmira, Ontario, was recently signed to an NHL officiating contract. “I just had a meeting with the NHL and I’ve been offered a full-time contract with them to be in the American Hockey League next year,” said Rank. “I’m really looking forward to that opportunity and I would love to be an NHL referee.”
Rank spent the majority of last season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), including covering the 2014 OHL Championship Series. He had a brief stint in the AHL, where he refereed ten games.
He also spent the past three years as part of Golf Canada’s national amateur golf team. He recently finished second – by one stroke, thanks to an unfortunate out-of-bounds call in the final round – in the 2014 Players Amateur tournament. Rank’s golfing accomplishments also include winning Toronto Star Amateur in 2011, claiming the 2012 national championship with the Waterloo Warriors golf team, and medaling at the USGA Public Links Championship in 2013. He was runner-up at the 2012 USGA Mid-Amateur, just missing out on an invitation to the Masters in Augusta.
In addition to being an accomplished golfer and a graduate of University of Waterloo, Rank is also a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 23. “You’re a young kid, doing well in officiating, you’re doing well in golf and school, and you just think you have the world in your hands. And then all of a sudden it comes up and bites you. It is definitely something that made me stop and think, but it is what it is, I guess,” he told the Waterloo Region Record.
While his surgery pulled him off the ice, a new opportunity came up when he was healthy enough to return. “I was approached to start refereeing and I thought it was a good way to stay involved with the game and a cool way to make money while I was in school,” said Rank, to the Winnipeg Sun. “You get to be part of one of the greatest games in the world.”
Former NHL referee Lance Roberts, who works for the NHL in scouting and recruiting officials, persuaded Rank to consider life as an on-ice official. From the CBC:
“I’ve known Garrett for a while. I watched him play junior B. I knew he refereed some minor hockey. I know his Dad. I also knew his Dad was a referee. There are two things with Garrett: he is a good athlete and a strong skater. He is a natural. I like the way he handles himself out there. He’s a good communicator. He’s not intimidated. The players have his respect, his authority out there. Personally, I believe he has what it takes to take the next step to the pro level.”
Rank’s background in golf and officiating has taught him some important skills that help with both. “You need patience for both jobs,” Rank said. “You have similar mindsets. In refereeing people don’t always agree with you and your emotions become heightened. You can use that in golf, too. You want to keep a positive mindset on the course.”
“As a cancer survivor,” Rank said, “having a fan yelling at you about a call or making bogey on your last hole doesn’t bother you quite as much as it once did.”
Rank is expected to work a full AHL schedule for 2014-15.
Follow @scoutingtherefs on Twitter