Linesman Jerry Pateman has been inducted into the Chatham, Ontario, Sports Hall of Fame. The veteran official, 60, got his start in stripes at age 14, while playing in the Chatham Minor Hockey Association. Pateman spent three years as an NHL trainee before making it to the NHL in 1982.
Pateman spent 13 years patrolling the ice in the National Hockey League. from 1982 to 1994, working 650 regular season games, along with 24 playoff matches. Pateman was also selected to officiate the 1991 All-Star Game alongside fellow linesman Dan Schachte and referee Terry Gregson.
Pateman, currently in his eighth season as an Officiating Development Coach in the ECHL, recently spoke with the league about this honor and his career.
ECHL.com: What was your initial reaction when you received word that you were being inducted into the Hall of Fame?
Jerry Pateman: I was thrilled, of course. But I also thought I was too young for a Hall of Fame induction! It certainly was an honor to be recognized for something that you love to do, by well respected sports people in your area.
ECHL.com: What does it mean to you personally and professionally to see your hard work rewarded with the Hall of Fame induction?
JP: It shows me that through all the years of hard work, long trips and cold rinks, the yelling and screaming from fans, and some coaches, and time away from home, it was all worth it and nice to be recognized by people in the sporting community.
ECHL.com: Are there any games or moments from your time in the NHL that stand out to you?
JP: There are many as you can expect, but the ones that come to mind are, of course, my first NHL game, which came as a fluke. I was working the American Hockey League and Central Hockey League as a referee. Two of the NHL’s linesmen had gone down with injuries and were expected to be out for an extended amount of time. Since I had experience as a linesman, they called me up to take some of the load.
My first game was to take place in New Jersey. I was on a road trip and the league couldn’t get me a linesman’s jersey in time. Thus, I had my referees shirt with the orange armbands on that I had to wear. I taped up the armbands with black tape and went out on the ice. It looked like I was wearing “mourning cuffs” on my sweater. Players came up joking to me and asking “who died,” but I didn’t care, I was working in the NHL!
Another of my games that stand out is the All-Star Game that I worked in Chicago in 1991. The Gulf War had started a few days earlier, and in the old Chicago Stadium, the National Anthem was always a big deal, with Wayne Messmer singing it out with his booming voice, but that day was something special. American flags were flying all throughout the crowd, and even to this day, I get goose bumps thinking about it. It was also a great thrill being on the ice with the best of the best that day.
Most fights in hockey are caused by instances that happen during that game, and not something that is anticipated for days prior. Well, I was involved in a game that had one of the most famous fights in recent memory. The Tie Domi/Bob Probert rematch at Madison Square Garden, home of many big boxing matches. They had fought a week or so earlier and were scheduled for a rematch this night, and they did not disappoint. It was a memorable night to say the least. Even the league sent a representative to the game to oversee it. They told us it was inevitable that they would go, and to let them, as long as it was a fair fight.
ECHL.com: You had the chance to officiate in a number of different leagues at different levels. How helpful is that to you now in your role with the ECHL?
JP: It was very helpful. Every minor league is different. They all had different scenarios back in the day. They all gave you different scenarios during games, and this is where you can tell the difference between the good officials and the mediocre ones. Who can deal with the stresses of a chippy, rugged hockey game on a continuous basis and who couldn’t. This is where the word consistency comes into officiating. It is also during these times, there were supervisors, or coaches, who helped you to conform to officiate at your best, and this is what I hope I am accomplishing as I go around the league watching our officials. I hope I am giving them pointers on how to see the game better, how to call the game and how to become successful.
ECHL.com: What do you enjoy most about working as a supervisor for the ECHL?
JP: Meeting young officials and trying to help them improve and, if they are so inclined, help them to get to the next level of officiating and hopefully to the pinnacle, the NHL. I’m sure most of the ECHL officials, much like the players, have that dream and if I can help them to attain that, I will be satisfied and happy for them.
ECHL.com: What advice or words of wisdom would you offer to anyone looking to break into professional hockey officiating?
JP: My advice to guys is to work hard game in and game out, never taking a night off. Listen to your coaches (supervisors) and your fellow officials. Make sure you know the rulebook, not only as referees, but as linesmen also. Delve into that book as much as possible. And most important – have fun!
Congratulations to Jerry Pateman on a terrific career and on his induction into the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame!