When the NHL removed names from the backs of the officials’ jerseys nearly 30 years ago – replacing them with numbers – it made the officials a bit harder to identify.

Teams have taken steps to write that wrong, educating players and coaches, and providing some cheat sheets on the game’s officials.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the latest to post the officials names behind the bench.  Mark Masters shared the Leafs’ handiwork, along with an explanation.


John Tavares spoke about the motivation behind the increased awareness.

“It’s a very emotional game;  you’re extremely invested and you know things can go either way sometimes. Obviously you’re wanting calls to go in your benefit and then they’re trying to do the best job they can as officials to manage the game correctly and make the right calls and make the right judgments that happen very fast, in fractions of a second. “

“You know at times you can get heated and just knowing somebody’s name — it’s amazing what that can do to just gain that level of respect and trust and communication with the officials which is really important.  I know that they they really strive to do that as well in knowing player names and whatnot.  [We’re] just trying to have that communication and that comfort level going back towards them as well.”

Toronto also posts the officials in their locker room, just to make players aware of who would be working the game.


Retired NHL referee Dave Jackson, currently a rules analyst with ESPN, weighed in on the significance.

“[It] shows they care about addressing the guys by name,” tweeted Jackson. “Knowing first names is a show of respect both ways. Officials also learn [the players’ and coaches’] first names. It’s more professional than ‘Hey, coach’ or ‘Hey, Stripes.'”

Toronto may be the latest, but plenty of other teams have been taking a similar approach.  The Islanders recently had the officials’ names on a piece of tape, spotted before their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  The Carolina Hurricanes also provided their team with a similar reference.

“We all kind of know [the officials] already by name,” said Leafs defenseman Justin Holl, “but it’s always good to have that just so you’re totally sure,”

The Chicago Blackhawks also had a cheat sheet for the stripes for a nationally-televised game earlier this season.

NHL Referees and Linesmen Names Behind Benches


This isn’t exactly new.  It’s become more common, but teams have been taking notice for years.  Here’s the Canucks’ cheat sheet – in tape on the floor behind the bench – from 2016:


You might not get the calls to go your way, but – hey – it can’t hurt to be polite, right?