If you’re only going to read one article on the NHL’s newest full-time referee, make it Jonathon Gatehouse‘s terrific profile of recently-promoted referee Graham Skilliter from MacLean’s. Here’s an excerpt:
The call-up to “the Show” came via email, on a Friday morning this past July, when Graham Skilliter was halfway through the 14-hour drive from his home in Saskatoon to his wedding weekend in Kelowna, B.C. He found it in his inbox during a pit stop for coffee outside Calgary: a summons to the NHL offices in Toronto to meet with Stephen Walkom, the league’s director of officiating.
“The message didn’t say what the meeting was about, but I knew,” says Skilliter. “And I felt quite overwhelmed with emotion.”
Skilliter spent six years in the Western Hockey League before moving up to the ECHL. He also spent a handful of games in stripes for the American Hockey League before making his NHL debut.
His first game on NHL ice came on January 28, 2013, a match between the Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers. He was joined on ice by referee Brad Watson and linesmen Mark Wheler and Jay Sharrers. Skilliter worked 22 games in the NHL last season. He’ll work a full slate — 73 games — this season.
“It’s pretty cool working, knowing that you’re not going back to Peoria, [Ill.] in a week,” he says. “You’re sticking [in the NHL] now.” Right at the top.