Referees are athletes, too. They train hard in the offseason, working just as hard during the regular season to maintain a high level of fitness. Skating and endurance are a huge part of the game for officials.
So are reflexes.
Referee Francois St. Laurent showed off those reflexes, along with a bit of hand-eye coordination, on Saturday’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings.
Buffalo’s Vladimir Sobotka lost his stick during a collision with LA’s Tanner Pearson. The stick flew from the faceoff circle past the center red line, spinning dangerously through the air. St. Laurent, cool as a Chicoutimi cucumber, reached up with one hand and snagged the flying lumber.
Barely batting an eyelash on that move, St. Laurent never lost track of the game on the ice.
Play continued into the Sabres’ zone, where St. Laurent returned Sobotka’s stick behind the goal, never missing a beat.
(stick-tap to Dan Rusanowski for the heads up)