Linesman Jay Sharrers spent 27 years wearing stripes in the National Hockey League, both as a referee and as a linesman. Sharrers officiated 1,419 regular season games along with 204 in the playoffs, including seven trips to the Stanley Cup Final (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011), as well as the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Sharrers, the NHL’s first black official, started officiating in the Western Hockey League before being hired by the NHL at age 22. His league debut came in 1990, working a game between the Quebec Nordiques and Boston Bruins.
He spoke with MIHOA’s Andy Hudson and Todd Lewis, co-host of the Scouting the Refs podcast. Sharrers talking about his start in officiating, offered some advice to young officials, and talked about how officiating skills apply to everyday life.
“[Officating] really gives you an understanding of tolerance and an understanding of integrity in terms of what you’re doing on the ice … just in terms of keeping the game fair and safe. I think those are definitely great life skills. … I don’t think there’s an [official] that wouldn’t say that some of the things they’ve learned as an official they’re able to transcend into their everyday roles in a different vocation.”
Sharrers also discussed his switch from working the lines to refereeing – both in a three-man and four-man system – along with his subsequent return to the lines.
He also touched on diversity in hockey.
“I think the NHL has done a tremendous job […] to provide people understanding that hockey is a game for everyone and that diversity is a very big part of society as it should be in professional sports, including hockey. And I think for players that have that platform to push that narrative, I think, is fantastic.”
Check out the video for the full discussion, including some great stories from the Cup Final and more. Thanks to Jay Sharrers and to MIHOA for their time.