The National Hockey League is looking for a few good officials.

Many officials work their way up the ranks, starting in stripes at a young age.  Others make the jump from playing to officiating.  The NHL is looking to find the best possible officials from both groups through their summer officiating combine, including former players who may have no officiating experience.

“[The 2014 camp] was a great success,” said NHL Officiating Manager Al Kimmel, in an interview with Scouting the Refs during the offseason. “We had 56 participants in our first camp. Out of those 56, we took 12 officials that, this past winter, worked at the various minor pro leagues.”

The NHL has been running officiating camps every summer, alternating between the younger prospective officials and older ones.  Last year’s camp focused on young players aged 15-19.  The 2014 camp, like this year’s, is aimed at former junior, college, and professional players.   

“We’ll be bringing in juniors, college players, and ex-pros once again and we’ve had a lot of interest in [the Exposure Combine].” said Kimmel.  “It’s a new resource, a new tool that Stephen Walkom brought into our program and so far, so good. It looks like it going to be a useful resource and it’s a great opportunity for players to get initiated and see what officiating is all about.”

From the NHL:

The 2nd NHL Exposure Combine will take place August 18-21, 2016 at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, NY.

The Combine’s focus is on high level hockey players with little or no officiating experience. The Combine is accepting ex-college (D1, DII, DIII), University (CIS) and Junior hockey players.

Accommodations and meals will be provided, applicants will be responsible for their travel to and from the Combine. The Combine will consist of physical on-ice and off ice testing along with hockey games.

“We need the athletes. We need the guys that are great skaters,” said NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom. “We need people that want to serve the game before they get out of shape. Every league needs people like that. So instead of sitting back and hoping that it happens, we’re making sure that it does happen.”

Al Kimmel addresses the officials at the NHL 2015 Amateur Exposure Combine

Al Kimmel addresses the officials at the 2015 NHL Exposure Combine (Image: Tom Masters/NHL)

The officiating combine is a great opportunity for both the league and its potential officials.  The NHL creates a larger pool of referees and linesmen, who’ll don the stripes at lower levels, which helps those leagues as well.  Former players get to extend their hockey careers, though wearing a slightly different jersey.  

“Just like hockey,” said Kimmel, “Not everybody can make it to the NHL as an official. But if you have that passion and that love for the game, there’s always a place for you to stay involved at some level throughout North America and within the game of hockey.”

The NHL Exposure Camp looks to find those players and keep them involved, even if it means trading in a stick for a whistle.

Sign up for the 2016 NHL Exposure Combine at