Referee Bob Langdon has had quite a career. To quote the old Hank Snow (or Johnny Cash) song, he’s been everywhere, man. Langdon worked 66 games in the National Hockey League from 2001-2006. He also officiated in the AHL, ECHL, Central Hockey League, International Hockey League, Colonial Hockey League, United Hockey League, All-American Hockey League, Oddset Ligaaen (Denmark), Ontario Hockey League, and the Ontario Hockey Association.
Langdon worked his final OHL game on Saturday, September 26. On Sunday, he sat down for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session via Reddit Hockey. Here are some highlights:
Players & Coaches
Who’s the best player you had the luxury of being on the ice with?
Hands down, Mario Lemieux.
What players did you get on well with?
Most of the players were pretty good. Vinny Damphousse was an old school guy who was great. I found the Canadian players were usually the classiest.
Who was the most respectable player that you spoke to? Or who was the best captain and leader you saw?
Steve Yzerman for most respectful. Best leader? probably Messier, with the exception of his time in Vancouver.
Which NHL coach was the nicest? Who was the [worst]?
Bob Hartley was an *******. Barry Trotz would’ve probably been the nicest.
Who’s the nicest NHL player you’ve ever met? Who was the biggest jerk?
Adam Graves and Messier were great guys. Bill Guerin was kind of a jerk.
Which NHL player was the most difficult to deal with?
Darcy Tucker probably, great guy off the ice but annoying as hell on the ice.
Is Patrice Bergeron as perfect as they say?
He’s a classy guy.
What was the best fight between two NHL players you were ever on the ice for?
Georges Laraques vs. Peter Worrell was an epic tilt.
Which player was the best at trash talking? What were some of the best examples you heard on the ice?
In the minors, when visors were still new, some guy with a visor was chirping a star player on the other side. the star, without missing a beat says “Roll your windows down, I can’t hear you!”
Did you ever fail to resist the urge to chirp back at a player who was being a total ***, and if so, what’s your best chirp?
Oh, always. I think I called Tie Domi a midget once. Then Pat Quinn yelled at me
Funniest trash talk you heard to you from fans?
There was a guy in Hamilton, who would go to the games whenever I was in town, between anthems when it was all quiet. He would yell “You Suck Langdon” Same time, every game.
I live in an OHL town and our fans love to cheer “We want a ref” constantly. Does this ever impact your calls? Or is it like when your a player and you just sort of learn to tune that stuff out.
I find it funny, personally. It’s like people are paying money to see me.
What’s the relationship with other refs/linesmen from game to game? Any animosity or is it like a brotherhood?
Some people you’re friends with, Some you’re teammates. But no animosity
What’s the one thing you wish fans knew about refs that we just don’t understand?
Even though it looks like we’re looking at something, We could be looking right past it. Things happen really fast at ice level
When player(s) argue the calls or talk with the ref after a penalty called against them/their team, does that tend to have any effect on the rest of the game, from a ref’s perspective?
No, that happens. Guys play to win and get upset when a penalty is called. It happens.
What are some things the NHL could do to improve your work life and the quality of the refereeing job?
Keeping crews together more, [letting officials spend] more time at home.
Did you ever get in arguments with other refs over calls you/they made? And how is that generally handled?
Never. In the pros, we work well as a unit.
On The Ice
What was the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen on the ice? Any weird postgame interactions with players or fans?
I had a folding chair thrown at me in Port Huron. Robbie Nichols once boxed the home team’s mascot at centre ice as the visiting team coach. Nichols also used to stand on the bench and throw his shoes and socks off while he was in Flint.
What do you think needs to be done to open up the game so that the skill of the players can be displayed and the games have more flow?
At this point? Get better players. Can’t really open up the game much more.
What are your thoughts on “make-up calls”? Did you ever feel the need to call them?
No, The more make-up calls you have, It will make it worse and compound on the shitty calls you’ve already made. Bad calls happen, just try not to make another one
Have a ever refereed a game where after the game you realized [you’d made a mistake]?
That happens. People make mistakes. Andy Van Hellemond once told me, “You can make mistakes, but don’t make the same one twice.”
How do you feel about coaches having the option to challenge what they feel are bad calls?
There are too many rules now. The game is getting way too slow. The rules are causing it to be a candy-ass robot game.
In your opinion, what does fighting do for the game of hockey?
It’s a necessity. Let’s the players police themselves
Off The Ice
We hear about gameday prep for players, what is it like for refs?
Group breakfast, gym, group lunch, walk, nap, go to the rink, stretch, game.
How about post-game? In between games?
[There’s] too much time. It gets lonely. We don’t stay in crews, so its a lot of travelling alone.
Do refs like to party while traveling from game to game? Any crazy stories relating to that you can share?
Some nights when you’re on the road so much, you go out and forget which room correlates with which city. We definitely party on off-nights, but some stories I don’t want to put on the internet.
Have you ever felt unsafe after a game due to a perceived bad call?
I remember in Macon in the CHL, the supervisor would carry a gun and Toledo we would have a trooper escort. But personally I’ve never really felt unsafe
Your hotdogs, do you take them with ketchup or mustard?
Mustard, obviously. Stupid if you don’t like mustard. Only condiment with no calories.
What made you decide to become a ref?
I reffed since I was a kid. I always loved it but I also wanted to be a hockey player. I played Junior B hockey for a while, got a three game tryout in minors that didn’t pan out, [then] decided to try refereeing full time.
How’d you like the lower leagues? UHL? CoHL? Wildest thing you saw?
It was fun, back when hockey was fun. It was rough and tough. They beat the hell out of each other. I saw in Hamilton where Perezhogin slashed a guy in the face so hard he started choking on his own blood, that was pretty wild. […] I did let Matt Carkner and another guy beat the hell out of him.
Perezhogin was suspended for the remainder of the postseason and the full 2004-05 AHL season. He was also charged with assault by Hamilton police and sentenced to one year probation, with an additional requirement to donate $5,000 to charity and to contribute $2,500 towards the injured player’s medical bills.
What was the difference between refereeing in North America and Europe?
A lot of wide open, run and gun hockey to keep up with. The Olympic ice makes a lot of difference
Advice for officials?
Ref as much as you possibly can, ask questions, learn from the right people, etc.
What was the most unforgettable moment of your career, NHL or otherwise?
When I got to ref my hero growing up, Mario Lemieux. He signed a stick and jersey for me and I got to hang out with him before the morning skate.
What was your most memorable NHL game to ref and why?
Toronto at Montreal on Hockey Night in Canada in 2004. Amazing atmosphere, mostly because it was Toronto at Montreal on Hockey Night in Canada.
Did you prefer working the NHL pre or post lock-out?
Pre-Lockout. The crackdown on obstruction and hooking & holding made it less fun
Out of all the things you’ve done over your years as a referee, what would you say is your favorite story to tell from a day on the job?
The Brawl in Flint was pretty good.
A total of 296 penalty minutes were handed out in this 1996 game between the Muskegon Fury and Flint Generals.
Final OHL Game
Langdon’s final OHL game was a memorable battle between the London Knights and the Kingston Frontenacs, with a spear to the groin, fights, and 66 minutes in penalties. The game featured one sequence with a potential overtime winner from London off the crossbar followed by what appeared to be a Frontenacs’ game-winning goal at the other end of the ice. Video review confirmed that the initial shot went of the crossbar and did not cross the line. Subsequent review also disallowed the Kingston goal as the player was just offside.
Can you explain what happened in your last game last night, like the OT and the spear? Was the game a good game to go out on, or would you have preferred a less than emotional game?
I didn’t see the spear, the linesman and other ref got it. It was a fun game, it was interesting and just kept going. I’ve had a lot of bizarre interesting games. Why not go out on one.
Congrats to Bob Langdon on a terrific career. Our best wishes going forward.
(stick-tap to /r/hockey for some great questions! Some questions/answers edited for clarity.)