When the San Jose Sharks take on the Vancouver Canucks in North Saanich, BC as part of the 2015 Kraft Hockeyville game, one hometown boy will be looking forward to hitting the ice — linesman Lonnie Cameron.
From the NHL:
“When I step out on the ice, the hairs on the back of my head will be going off,” Cameron said. “I grew up 12 blocks from the rink. I’ve been looking forward to this date on the calendar.”
Going into his 20th year in the NHL and with more than 1,100 games under his belt, it takes a lot for Cameron to get excited about an assignment. But the chance to work in front of family and friends in an arena overlooked by the one he grew up playing in was enough to do it.
“That’s where I started pee wee pup hockey, seven-, eight- years old,” said Cameron, who grew up playing with former NHL players such as Joe Reekie and Dan Woodley. “My picture is on the wall.”
Before refereeing in front of his parents for the first time in 10 years, Cameron was looking forward to helping out young officials. He was in North Saanich on Sunday with the rest of the officiating crew for the preseason game Monday between the Sharks and Canucks to conduct a refereeing clinic for three dozen kids from Peninsula Minor Hockey Association.
“This is our give back,” Cameron said. “There might be a kid in the chair saying, ‘Hmm, you know what? Maybe i can do this.’ And I’m not saying it’s easy, you might have a better chance winning lotto than making it as an official, but to give back through these kids is awesome.”
Joining Cameron for the officiating clinic and the game were referees Mike Leggo and Graham Skiliter, and fellow linesman Trent Knorr, who also grew up on Vancouver Island.
“It’s tough to describe,” said Knorr, who lives nearby. “It’s pretty special to be in your own hometown and giving back to guys that helped me out and pushed me along the way.”
That includes Steve Marsh, the director of referee development for the Peninsula Minor Hockey Association and a former mentor to Knorr. Marsh helped organize the clinic Sunday.
“It’s an inspirational thing to have these guys out,” Marsh said.
In addition to perhaps inspiring a future referee or linesman, the NHL officials hoped to share some of their perspective and tips to help the teens deal with what can be a tough job.
“I remember at that age, your biggest headache was usually parents and coaches,” Knorr said. “If you can pass along a message to some of these kids that there are maybe different ways to deal with some of that stuff, that would be a huge pat on the back for us.”
With a one-hour question-and-answer session followed by another hour on the ice, Cameron was confident they’d be able to give the aspiring referees some new ideas and perspective.
“When you sit in a classroom it’s as dry as popcorn,” said Cameron, who remembered referees driving four hours when he did a similar clinic at the Kraft Hockeyville in Terrace, British Columbia in 2009. “But you get on the rink and the ice is your classroom and you get to teach these guys and you get into some dynamics and they are like ‘Wow, that can really help me in the game.'”
Giving young officials confidence is important, according to Cameron.
“The game needs these guys,” he said. “Thirty-three percent hit the road after their first year because of the nature of their abuse and all that, and we need those guys to stay around.”