NHL Linesman Michel Cormier was honored for working 1000 National Hockey League games on Sunday, December 2, prior to the San Jose Sharks’ visit to Montreal to face the Canadiens.
Cormier, 44, reached the 1000-game milestone last season on a March 16 game between the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars. He opted to celebrate the achievement this season in Montreal, where he was joined on the ice by his parents, Michel and Gaétane, his wife Isabelle, and his sons. Both teams presented Cormier with signed jerseys to commemorate his milestone achievement.
“I’m very proud to have reached this plateau,” Cormier said, loosely translated, to Le Droit. “I wanted to share this tribute with my loved ones. They allow me to live a dream that I cherish. […] It feels good to live this together. “
The veteran linesman, a native of St-Louis-de-France, just outside of Trois-Rivières, underwent knee surgery prior to the start of the season. His recovery kept him sidelined until November 8.
Sunday’s game was actually 1,022 for Cormier, who worked the game alongside referees Marc Joannette and Frederick L’Ecuyer and fellow linesman Pierre Racicot.
“Frederick, I grew up with him,” Cormier said. “We have worked our way up the officiating ladder together. As for Marc, he’s the big brother I never had. As soon as I arrived in the NHL, he took me under his wing. Pierre is someone with whom I developed a nice relationship over the years.”
Cormier made his NHL debut on October 10, 2003, working a game between the Penguins and Los Angeles Kings in Pittsburgh. His first National Hockey League game was officiated alongside referees Dave Jackson and Greg Spada with linesman Greg Devorski.
“The first game of your career, it goes way too fast. You don’t even see it go by,” said Cormier. “It’s really from the second [game] that you can live the experience. Then, the years pass by very quickly. It’s hard to believe I’ve reached 1000 games. Now I’m going to wish for 1500!”
From the NHLOA:
Cormier grew up in St-Louis-de-France, a small town located just outside of Trois-Rivières in the Province of Quebec, Canada.
Cormier grew up surrounded by hockey, as it was everything for the Cormier family as his dad played professionally in the USA for over 12 years. Furthermore, his dad was not the only professional player in the family; Cormier’s uncle, none other than Jean-Guy Talbot, had already made his way to the NHL, where he played over 1056 NHL games and won an impressive 7 Stanley cups.
Michel Jr started off his hockey career at a very young age, just like pretty much every other kids who growing up in Quebec. He played all the way to the Quebec Junior Major League (QJMHL). A couple of years after his playing days were over, Michel Jr wanted to get back into the hockey world and then decided to start officiating in the fall of 1994. Right away, his strong skating abilities and his size caught the officials supervisor’s attention in his hometown, and after just a few years of officiating, Cormier was hired by the QJMHL as a linesman.
The year 2003 was a memorable one for Cormier, as he was selected to work the World Junior Championship in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada and, a few months later, he was chosen to work the Memorial Cup in Quebec City.
That summer (2003), former NHL director of officiating Andy Van Hellemond offered Cormier a full time NHL linesman contract. He then became only the second linesman coming from “La Mauricie” to work in the NHL after Claude Bechard. On October 10th, 2003, Michel Jr made his official entrance in the big league when he was asked to work his first NHL regular season game when the Los Angeles Kings took on the Pittsburgh Penguins at the old Mellon Arena.
Congratulations to Michel Cormier on 1000 games!
(Translations loosely edited for clarity)