Retired NHL referee Mick McGeough passed away on Friday at age 62. He had been hospitalized after suffering a stroke the previous Sunday.

McGeough spent 22 seasons as a referee in the National Hockey League, wearing the stripes from 1986 to 2002. He took the ice for 1083 regular season games and 63 playoff games, handling the 2006 Stanley Cup Final between the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers.  After retiring from on-ice duties, he continued with the league as an Officiating Manager.

“The National Hockey League lost a true friend of the game last night with the passing of Mick McGeough,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “As one of the League’s top referees for 21 years from 1987-88 until his retirement following the 2007-08 season, Mick’s passion for the game shone through on a nightly basis. He earned and maintained respect from players, coaches, general managers and his peers throughout his career with a unique style that combined humility and humor with decisiveness and fairness. The NHL family extends its deepest sympathies to his wife Angie and his five children – Jared, Luke, Kara, Karlie and Isaac.”

NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom also issued a statement on McGeough’s passing.

“Mick was the consummate communicator,” said NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom. “Whether it was as an NHL referee for two decades or, more recently, in his position as Officiating Manager, Mick had the tremendous ability to tell stories – sharing his knowledge of the rules and insights into the game with everyone he met. He was also a great teacher who took pride in inspiring and developing officials through his love for the game. On behalf of the entire NHL officiating team, we will miss Mick’s friendship and our thoughts are with Angie and his entire family.”

 

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McGeough, whose surname was unfortunately homophonous with a popular carton character known for poor eyesight, was a character on the ice.  His energy in calling a goal – or waving one off – was memorable.

“Doing the helicopter,” is how referee Rob Shick, who also worked with McGeough as an NHL Officiating Manager, termed the move to Sportsnet. “I always thought he was auditioning for the Karate Kid movie. But if you know Mick’s personality, he’s a very intense person. Like, he sweats during lunch.”

McGeough admitted as much in a profile from 2008, also from, Sportsnet.

“Aw, sometimes I exaggerated calls,” said McGeough. “It’s not like you think about it — your instinct just takes over. You are so into the game. And getting excited isn’t a bad thing, is it? You get so wrapped up in the game, so… into the moment.”

The NHL Officials Association also shared their collective thoughts.

The NHL Officials Association is deeply saddened today to announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Mick McGeough. Mick was one of the true characters of our game and we will miss him immeasurably. Throughout his 21 year on-ice career and subsequent management role, Mick was always known for his wit, humour and ability to tell a great story. He reminded us constantly that hockey, even at the highest level, is meant to be fun and he leaves us with a hole that can never be filled. Our heartfelt condolences to his Wife, Angie and their beautiful family.

We will forever miss our “Fair Judge”.

 
McGeough will certainly be missed.