Each Montreal Canadiens home game has featured a debut. On Tuesday, it was defenseman Shea Weber in the bleu, blanc, et rouge for the first time on home ice. On Thursday, goaltender Carey Price played his first game of the season.
Tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers, one man will be making his first foray onto NHL ice: referee Chris Schlenker.
Schlenker will officiate his first National Hockey League game alongside referee Brad Meier and linesmen Trent Knorr and Steve Miller.
Schlenker, 31, was recently named the WHL’s top official, having received the Allen Paradice Memorial Trophy earlier this year. He completed his third season in the WHL, working the Finals as well as being named to officiate the 2016 Memorial Cup. Schlenker made his professional debut on October 17, 2015, working a game between the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils.
The Medicine Hat, Alberta, native played in the WHL. He suited up with the Regina Pats and Prince Albert Raiders from 2001-2005, picking up 786 penalty minutes along the way. He then headed to Europe for a season before returning home and trading his stick for a whistle.
From CTV Calgary:
“You just keep your head down and keep working, control what you can control and hope the rest takes care of itself,” Schlenker said at the WHL’s awards banquet. “The last five years it’s kind of gone from junior A to the Western Hockey League and the American League [in 2015-16]. I’ve been pretty fortunate to be in the position I’m in and I’ve had lots of help along the way.”
It’s been a long climb, and not an easy one. Now, though, referee Chris Schlenker finds himself at the top as he makes his NHL debut. Congratulations!