Linesman Jonathan Deschamps is set to make his NHL debut tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the New Jersey Devils.
Deschamps, wearing #80, will work tonight’s game alongside linesman Ryan Daisy (#81) and referees Chris Rooney (#5) and Kevin Pollock (#33).
The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, native has manned the lines in the American Hockey League for the past two seasons also recently officiated the 2021 World Juniors.
The former defenseman played five seasons in the QMJHL, racking up 13 goals, 35 assists, and 202 penalty minutes in 324 games with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Shawinigan Cataractes. His former teammates include Pierre-Luc Dubois, Anthony Beauvillier, and Sam Girard. Deschamps moved on to play two seasons at the University of Quebec – Trois-Rivieres, making the jump to officiating during the 2018-19 season.
“I didn’t want to quit the game after I had finished my university hockey,” said Deschamps. “I figured the best way to stay in the game was officiating and things went from there.”
He credits fellow linesman and Trois-Rivieres native Michel Cormier with helping him advance.
“I am very grateful to Michel. He helped me a lot. I loved my experience at [the NHL Officiating Exposure] Combine. We played games, then we refereed other games afterwards. There were also physical tests [and] theoretical lessons.”
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Deschamps attended the NHL Combine in 2019. He impressed the league’s managers enough to be selected to officiate an NHL prospect tournament. From there, it wasn’t long until he signed a professional contract with the AHL, officiating games while playing for his university team. At the end of the season, he dedicated himself to officiating full-time.
“I have had great experiences over the years [as a player], but I no longer had the same enthusiasm when I showed up at the arena,” Deschamps said. “I found that pleasure in refereeing. ”
Deschamps, now 25, made his AHL debut on October 5, 2019, officiating a game between the Cleveland Monsters and Laval Rocket in Laval, Quebec.
“My relatives were there, Michel Cormier also came for the occasion. It moved me. I wasn’t nervous, I was proud to be on the ice. When I jumped on the ice it was cool. It’s as if I was accessing my dream of playing pro a little, but in a different way. Guys, in the American League, they’re strong. It’s high caliber of play. You have to be perfect on every face-off, you want to make the right decision every time.”
Now, two years later, he’s making his first NHL start.
“I just want to do a good job,” said Deschamps, prior to working the World Juniors. “I want to go out on the ice and do the best job I can do and see where it goes from there.”
His goal will be the same on an even bigger stage as he begins his National Hockey League career.