Veteran NHL linesman Mark Wheler will work his 1,500th NHL game on Friday, February 20 when the Calgary Flames take on the Anaheim Ducks at the Scotiabank Saddledome. He’ll take the ice alongside referees Brad Meier and Brad Watson and fellow linesman Lonnie Cameron. The league will recognize his milestone with a brief ceremony before the game.
“Sometimes it seems like I just started yesterday. Sometimes certain nights you feel like you’ve been battling forever,” he said. For a career that spans 23 years, that’s certainly understandable.
“I was lucky enough and worked hard enough when I was at the right place at the right time to get here. Now 1,500 games means – I’m not done yet—but it means I’ve survived.”
Among active officials, only referee Paul Devorski (1,573) and linesmen Brad Lazarowich (1,920), Mike Cvik (1,808), Shane Heyer (1,772), and Brian Murphy (1,691) have worked more games in the National Hockey League.
Wheler made his debut on October 10, 1992, working the lines for a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames.
“That first game it was more of a feeling of gotten what I was always hoping I would be able to do,” he told CKOM. “The games now, you go do them and you are so involved and reacting to what happens and a lot of them, when it is done, it is done.”
Linesman Scott Driscoll also made his league debut the same night handling Islanders vs. Bruins. Just four days earlier, another notable name also took his first strides on the NHL ice: Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash has since retired, but Wheler is still going.
Wheler’s worked three Stanley Cup Finals, including the decisive Game Seven of the 2004 Final between the Calgary Flames and the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I remember sitting there, thinking before the game that’s the game you’ve wanted to work since you started blowing the whistle and dropping the puck,” Wheler said of the experience.
He was also selected to work the 2014 Winter Olympics, where he was joined in Sochi by his brother, Ken, an NHL officiating manager. “It’s a long ways from doing my first game in Battleford when I was 13 years old,” Mark said last year, prior to heading to Sochi. “To be doing this still for a living and then to be going and doing it over in Russia is really cool.”
Congratulations to Mark Wheler on terrific career and a great 1,499 NHL games so far. Good luck to him out there on the ice tonight!