Linesman Travis Toomey will be making his NHL debut tonight in Anaheim as the Ducks host the Arizona Coyotes.
Toomey will take the ice for the first time in the National Hockey League alongside fellow linesman Brandon Gawryletz and referees Brian Pochmara and Marc Joannette.
The 29-year-old Alberta native was hired by the NHL during the offseason, after taking part in the NHL Officiating Combine in 2018. Toomey spent last season officiating in the AHL, WHL, and AJHL.
Toomey first donned the stripes in 2016, working 3-on-3 games at a power skating camp.
“I was just out there having some fun and pretending to be like [retired NHL linesman] Randy Mitton, getting down on one knee and waving off the offside,” he said.
Though he always dreamed of making it to the NHL, Toomey never considered the possibility of doing so as an official.
“[Officiating was] not anything that crossed my mind while I was a player,” Toomey said. “I am very happy that I have found my way into it now a number of years after my playing career ended.”
“I don’t think that I was a favorite among officials,” added Toomey. “If you look at my penalty minutes from my Golden Bears days, I’m not sure there’s many guys that had more penalty minutes than I did.”
Toomey will lean heavily on his experience as a player, which – in addition to his time with the University of Alberta – included four seasons in the WHL, suiting up for the Saskatoon Blades and Seattle Thunderbirds.
“My understanding of situations from a players’ standpoint, being in their skates previously, has allowed me to maybe know what to say or at least understand what they’re feeling and when you can acknowledge that with a player from an official’s side of things, that goes a long way in at least letting every one know that we’re all on the same page,” said Toomey.
During his days in the WHL, Toomey took the ice alongside a handful of current NHLers. His teammates included Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights. The former forward understands his new role, moving from playing to officiating.
“Players and coaches have bias – they want to win and calls to go their way. It’s the official’s job to see the play and be in an unbiased position to make the proper call, and we’re out there to serve the game, that’s our purpose as officials – to make sure the game is played with integrity and safety.”
Toomey spoke with CITV about the opportunity.
It was a quick transition for the 6-foot-4, 210-pound former center, trading his stick for a whistle.
“Once I started reffing, I just loved the feeling of being back on the ice … being in the game, being in the battles, those are the things that really captivated me,” he said. “It’s just been an excellent ride and an excellent experience to date.”
Tonight he’ll make his National Hockey League debut. What a ride, indeed.
All the best to Toomey as he begins his NHL officiating career.