TSN’s Darren Dreger joined James Duthie and Pierre LeBrun on Insider Trading to discuss the possibility of women officials in the NHL.
“There’s no specific timeline on that from an NHL perspective, but the National Hockey League has been quietly pushing to have women officiating at higher levels in the sport. It’s very likely that you will see women officiating in the American Hockey League at some point this season. Several women participated in recent camps that were held involving the American Hockey League.
“We know that Alex Clarke will be officiating in the Western Hockey League this season.”
“Kirsten Welsh will also begin her officiating career in the Ontario Hockey League later this week.”
Welsh most recently officiated the Traverse City Prospects tournament, featuring players from the Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Stars, and Blues. She previously took part in the NHL Officiating Combine, which looks to identify potential candidates for NHL officials. The 2019 camp had 89 participants; 11 of them were women. She was also one of four officials – with Katie Guay, Kelly Cooke, and Kendall Hanley – to officiate NHL prospect tournaments in 2019. All four were also tapped to work the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 Showcase as part of the 2019 NHL All-Star Game.
The NBA has had female officials since 1997, when Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner joined the league; they currently have five women officiating on the court. The NFL hired Sarah Thomas in 2015; six years later, she became the first female official to work the Superbowl. Major League Soccer saw Kathryn Nesbitt, in 2020, become the first woman to officiate a men’s championship soccer match in the league; she’s one of 10 women officiating in Major League Soccer.
It’s just a matter of time until the NHL’s glass ceiling is broken.