Former NHL referee Dave Newell has passed away at the age of 73.

Newell’s career, which spanned 23 years from 1967 to 1990, included 1,169 regular season games and 106 playoff appearances.  Newell worked three Stanley Cup Finals (1981, 1984, and 1987), the 1980 All-Star Game, and Rendez Vous ’87 — an exhibition series between the NHL and Soviet Union in 1987.

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, spoke highly of Newell’s career achievements.

“In addition to being among the elite in his profession, Dave’s commitment to all aspects of officiating could be found in the fact that he served as President of the NHL Officials’ Association for nine years,” Campbell said. “Following his retirement, as an NHL Officiating Coach, Dave worked tirelessly for 15 years to mentor and develop young officials.:

“A consummate professional who epitomized class, Dave’s calm demeanor on the ice earned him the respect of players and coaches. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and many friends.”



His former fellow officials shared their thoughts.
“Dave Newell was a dear friend, a mentor and an outstanding referee, wrote former NHL referee Paul Stewart. “RIP “Newelly”. He will be greatly missed. Dave reffed my first NHL game for Quebec, took me under his wing at my 1st officiating camp and my NHL reffing debut came when I stepped in for him due to injury.”
Fellow referee Kerry Fraser also addressed Newell’s passing.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing today of dear friend & former colleague, NHL Referee Dave Newell,” wrote Fraser. “Dave was a courageous, selfless leader as longtime President of the NHLOA. ‘Newts’ stood tall for what was right and fought for the little guy regardless of personal cost.”
Stephane Auger, who made his NHL debut in 2000, tweeted about the loss.
“Sad news. Dave was a supervisor for my debut and he helped me reach the NHL,” tweeted Auger, loosely translated. “I remember one night after a game in Halifax where he had come to supervise me, he had spent hours telling us stories of his time. What beautiful memories!”
Newell was hired by the NHL at age 21, after working his way up through the International Hockey League (IHL), where he was the league’s only full-time referee.
“The year I was hired by the NHL, they also hired Brian Lewis and John McCauley. But since I was the youngest, I was told that I would be going to Vancouver. The contract was for $5000. I bought a car for $5200 and was already $200 in the hole. My wife, Darlene and I had just got married and here we were hauling a U-Haul heading to Vancouver with an apartment vacancy rate of less than 1% and absolutely no idea where we were going to stay.”
Newell and his family certainly figured it out, sticking it out for a full 23-year career on the ice.  He was also active off the ice in support of his striped brethren, acting as president of the NHLOA from 1980-1989.
After retirement, Newell took a position within the NHL Officiating Department, later moving up to a role as Assistant Director of Officiating under then-director Andy Van Hellemond.
“I only have to look at a guy on the ice one time to tell if he has what it takes to become a professional referee,” Newell said back in 2002. “There are a lot of little things you look for, but most of all it is the presence of the person on the ice that is most important. How he carries himself; how he talks to the players; how he looks when he skates – these are things that tell you about the character of a person. You can teach someone about positioning and rules. You can even help him improve his skating. But you can’t teach judgement, common sense and rapport with the players. Those are the qualities which separate the top officials from the rest of the pack.”

Newell continued, “I really think that the top referees are born with that special something which makes them stand out. And after so many years of traveling around and scouting, I can tell in my gut when I spot someone with those special qualities which makes him an excellent prospect as a professional referee in the National Hockey League.”

Our condolences to the friends and family of Dave Newell, as well as all those mourning his loss.