When linesman Mark Wheler skates off the ice tonight in Calgary, it will be for his final time as an NHL linesman.
The veteran official will be hanging up the skates after a 26-year NHL career. He’ll take the ice one last time for tonight’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames, working alongside fellow linesman Brian Murphy and referees Brad Watson and Brad Meier.
“I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time back then because they needed linesmen in the old Saskatchewan Junior league back in the North Battleford Barons days,” Wheler said of the start of his officiating career. “When I was 16, I started working lines there, which is almost unheard of these days. I had been doing it for a couple years and maybe was a little bigger than some of the guys, had the mentorship of my brother and a keen interest in what was going on.”
Wheler worked his way up, eventually working the 1992 Memorial Cup alongside referee Brad Watson, with whom he’ll work his final game in the show.
From the NHLOA:
The North Battleford (Saskatchewan) native made his NHL debut on October 10, 1992 in the same building where he will be dropping the puck for the last time tonight. He was joined on the ice that night by now retired referee Dan Marouelli and linesman Swede Knox. The final score saw the home team winning the game with a final score of 3-2, a game that featured five players now inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Al MacInnis, Doug Gilmour, Glenn Anderson, Joe Nieuwendyk and Sergei Makarov. Named the Olympic Saddledome back in 1992, one of today’s oldest arena on the circuit was also home for Wheler’s 1,500th NHL Regular Season Game on February 20, 2015.
Wheler will be leaving the ice tonight with an impressive list of accomplishments during his 26 year tenure with the NHL. He will be hanging his skates with a final count of 1,735 NHL Regular Season Games and 111 NHL Playoffs Games. During his officiating journey, Wheler was also selected three times to work the prestigious Stanley Cup Finals (2001,2002,2003), worked the 2001 NHL All-Star Game in Denver, Colorado, worked two outdoor games (2011-Calgary & 2017-St.Louis) and was part of the officiating crew that represented the NHL at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“Sometimes it seems like I just started yesterday,” said Wheler. “Sometimes certain nights you feel like you’ve been battling forever.”
While the war on the ice rages on, Wheler’s battles can now come to an end.
All the best to Wheels in his retirement!