NHL referees and linesmen will be taking the ice for 2020-21 with a new ‘official’ whistle.
The National Hockey League has adopted the Fox40 pealess whistle, named “The Caul” after former NHL Director of Officiating John McCauley.
“It is a pretty neat and humbling experience that not only myself but my all fellow officials are using whistles named after my father,” said referee Wes McCauley. “The whistle sounded great and I’m looking forward to using The Caul in all our future games.”
The Caul is a pealess whistle, with a slightly lower tone than traditional whistles. Fox40 worked to tune the whistle’s two unique chambers to better emulate the sound of a pea-style whistle.
The NHL first utilized The Caul for outdoor games, to avoid issues where the ball would freeze at colder temperatures, rendering the whistle inoperable. The league switched to the new whistle full-time, for both indoor and outdoor games, last season, as a more sanitary option, as it’s easier to clean and doesn’t retain bacteria like the old-school cork ball chamber.
“It’s not that big of a change for us,” NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom told The Score’s John Matisz. “It has the same trill as a normal whistle, but it requires less force to blow. Less exhale. It doesn’t have anything coming out of the top of the whistle, which may be better or it may not be better [for officials to use during the pandemic]. I’m not a medical doctor, I’ve never tested it, but we thought [the shortened 2019-20 season] might be the best environment to test it in. ”
Obviously, the whistle passed the test, as it’s been promoted to full-time in the National Hockey League.
McCauley – the elder – refereed from 1966–1981, later taking the helm as the NHL’s head of officials from 1986–1989. He died in 1989 due to complications from emergency gall bladder surgery.
“When John died, I was very upset and told our staff that the next time we did a hockey whistle we would tribute it to him,” said Ron Foxcroft, founder and CEO of Fox40. “The engineering to make it work perfectly for outdoor games was very difficult. But when we finally got it right, his sons Wes and Blaine were very emotional that we named it for their dad.”
Wes was still playing hockey competitively at the time of his father’s passing. He would go on to be drafted by the Detroit Red Wings the following year before making the jump to officiating in 1997, reaching the NHL in 2003.
“The biggest part of this is that dad’s been gone since 1989 and people still honor him,” said McCauley.