Referee Justin St. Pierre is set to work his 1000th NHL game tonight in Montreal, when the Canadiens host the New York Rangers.
St. Pierre will be joined for this milestone game by referee Brian Pochmara and linesmen Brian Murphy and Michel Cormier.
“Brian Pochmara is one of my great friends and he was my roommate when I lived in Florida at the start of my career,” said St. Pierre to Le Quotidien. “I signed up full time in the [NHL] and he followed me two years later.”
The native of Dolbeau, Quebec — 500 kilometers to the north of Montreal’s Bell Centre — made his NHL debut on November 9, 2005, when he suited up for a match between the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. His first playoff game came eight seasons later as the Anaheim Ducks took on the Dallas Stars on April 18, 2014. St. Pierre has gone on to work eight playoff games. The veteran referee was also tapped to work the 2020 All-Star Game in St. Louis.
“I didn’t even expect to make 1000 games in the NHL, so it’s a great feat and I’m glad it happened,” he said. “For me, it represents a lot of perseverance.”
“Since I don’t like being in the spotlight, I wanted to refuse [taking part in a pre-game ceremony for 1000 games],” St. Pierre told Le Journal de Montreal. “On the other hand, there will be several people from my family as well as friends who will be present in the stands, and it is partly for them that I agree to do so. It will be very moving and without a doubt the most emotional game of my career.”
From the NHLOA:
St.Pierre, was born in Dolbeau QC, a small town in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region of the Quebec province. He played all of his minor hockey in his native region reaching the Midget and Junior levels in Normandin and Dolbeau. His officiating journey started at the age of 15, when he decided to join his older brother who was already blowing the whistle at the local rink on the weekends in order to earn a few bucks. His first five seasons were spent skating at local rinks, working every level of minor hockey before being promoted to the Elite Provincial Officiating Program, a program that identify young talented officials in order to officiate Midget AAA and Junior A hockey games all over the province of Quebec.
Two years after cracking the provincial program lineup, St.Pierre made another big step in his officiating journey when he was hired by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as a referee. He would go on and spend a total of three seasons with the QMJHL before packing his bags and moving to Pensacola, FL in the summer of 1997 after signing a contract with the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) as a referee. Over the course of the following six seasons with the ECHL, St.Pierre will have the ultimate honor to be selected three times to work the prestigious Kelly Cup Finals (1999, 2002 & 2003) and was also selected to work the 2001 ECHL All-Star Game in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
The National Hockey League offered him a NHL Minor Leagues Referee contract in the summer of 2003. He was promoted three years later to a full time NHL status at the age of 34.
St. Pierre, 47, isn’t done yet.
“I give myself another three or four seasons, which would bring me to 50 years or 51 years,” said St. Pierre, which means 1,300 career games may be within reach. “I don’t know yet.”
Congratulations to Justin St. Pierre on reaching the 1000-game mark!