Linesman Kevin Collins will be making his way to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. The long-time NHL official will be joined by NCAA coach Jack Parker, Women’s Olympic coach Ben Smith, NHL coach Ron Wilson, and former NHL player Scott Young in the Hall’s Class of 2017.
“Each of the inductees has contributed in extraordinary fashion to the growth and development of hockey in our country,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “The members of the Class of 2017 have positively impacted the game, from the grassroots to the highest levels, through playing, coaching and officiating.”
“This truly is the pinnacle of my officiating career,” Collins said on Monday, adding that the honor left him “totally speechless and overwhelmingly surprised.”
“I’m proud to be in such an elite group. I’m especially thrilled to join NHL referee Bill Chadwick [in the Hall of Fame]. He was a true pioneer in officiating, introducing the hand signals that all referees in the world use today. I’m honored to be in with him.”
Collins spent 28 years in stripes in the NHL — none of them wearing a helmet. The Massachusetts native handled 1,964 regular season games and 296 playoff games, with 32 games worked in 12 Stanley Cup Finals. Collins, alongside Ray Scapinello, worked Game 7 of the 1994 Final between the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks. He also officiated two All-Star Games (1988 in St. Louis and 1993 in Montreal). Internationally, Collins suited up for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and four Canada Cups.
“Kevin’s on-ice career was marked by excellence, dedication and passion for the game,” said NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom after Collins’ retirement.
Collins was also the first linesman to act as President of the NHL Officials’ Association (NHLOA). After his retirement, Collins remained with the NHL as an Officiating Manager through 2013.
“When I think of Kevin, I think of words like honest, hard working, dedicated to the game, integrity, love of the game, courage, inner strength,” said NHL referee Tom Kowal, upon Collins’ 2008 induction into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame . “These are all the traits that Kevin exhibited during his 28 years on the ice working for the National Hockey League and still does to this day.”
Collins, 67, becomes the second NHL official to be enshrined in the Hall, joining referee Bill Chadwick, who was inducted in 1974. Hal Trumble, a former collegiate and international official, is also in the Hall of Fame, though he was largely inducted for his work as executive director of what would become USA Hockey.
From USA Hockey:
Officiating at the highest levels of hockey for parts of four decades, Kevin Collins (Springfield, Mass.) became one of the game’s most respected officials, accumulating a résumé that includes more than 2,000 NHL games as a linesman. His 296 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs rank as the most by an American official. And his 32 games in the Stanley Cup Finals place him second among American officials behind only William “Bill” Chadwick, whose induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame preceded Collins’ by 43 years. Upon Collins’ formal induction, he and Chadwick will stand as the only Hall inductees to earn enshrinement exclusively for their accomplishments as on-ice officials.
Known for his integrity, athleticism and strong skating ability, Collins worked 28 years in the NHL (1977-2005), including 12 appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals. His career also included working four Canada Cup tournaments, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in addition to a pair of NHL All-Star Games (1988 and 1993).
Collins was a pioneer in the development of officiating as a whole. In 1974, he founded the Western New England School of Officiating which, at the time, was the only officiating school conducted in the U.S. and provided the foundation for hundreds of budding professional officials. In 1983, Collins helped USA Hockey create its Officiating Summer Development Camp program and its officiating manual series, both of which remain in use and serve as core components of USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program. Collins also taught at numerous USA Hockey officiating camps and seminars.
Beyond his service as an on-ice official, Collins has also volunteered countless hours to amateur hockey in Massachusetts, serving as a youth hockey coach and director while also coordinating free officiating workshops throughout New England.
“Of all the great things that can be written about Kevin and his officiating skills,” said Kowal, “I think the greatest thing I can say about Kevin is his loyalty and love for his officiating teammates, his friends and his family. Kevin is one of those people who you call once and ask for help and before you can turn around he is standing beside you there to help in anyway he can.”
Congratulations to linesman Kevin Collins on his induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Collins and the rest of the Class of 2017 will be honored at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration, to be held later this year.