Referees Ian Walsh and Dan O’Rourke are ready to go, as are linesmen Vaughan Rody and Jonny Murray. The quartet will be hitting the ice in Nashville as this year’s All Star Game officials.
We know the linesmen will be busy, watching for offsides and handling most of the faceoffs, but what about the referees? Aside from stopping the play and pointing to goals, how much work will they have to do? When it comes to the whistles, they can pretty much leave them in the locker room.
Penalties have become very rare in the All-Star Game. Counting penalty shots, there have been just four infractions called in the past 12 All-Star Games. Two of those – the most recent – were penalty shots. The last time an All-Star power play took place was in the 2000 game in Toronto, when referees Kerry Fraser and Don Koharski sent Sandis Ozolinsh to the box for hooking. That was the only penalty assessed in an All-Star Game since the NHL moved to a four-man officiating crew.
That also means that no active NHL referees have ever awarded a power play in an All-Star Game.
You’d have to go all the way back to 1998 for the last time multiple penalties were called in the game. Not coincidentally, that’s also the last time a power play goal was scored in the midseason classic. That one came from Team North America’s Keith Tkachuk while Slava Fetisov of Team World sat in the box for cross-checking. The refereee for that one was Paul Stewart.
John Scott may have been beaten to the punch. While there’s only the slimmest of chances he drops the gloves at this year’s event – and, if he does, it’d be for fun – fights have happened before in the All-Star Game. The league used to employ a ‘Cup Winners vs. the rest of the league’ format. It made for some rough games, especially when player rivalries boiled over.
The first All-Star fight in NHL history came in 1948, when Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings squared off against Toronto’s Gus Mortson. Referee Bill Chadwick sent them both packing. Five years later, it was up to referee Red Storey to maintain order as Detroit’s Red Kelly dropped the gloves with Montreal’s Bert Olmstead.
The Last Time…
Given how infrequent penalties are called, let’s take a look at the last time each was called in an All-Star Game:
|Matching Roughing||1968||Howe (DET)/Walton (TOR)||Friday|
|Fighting||1953||Kelly (DET) / Olmstead (MTL)||Storey|