Referee Jon McIsaac was injured during the first period of Tuesday night’s game between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers. The official, who was hit by a puck earlier in the period, completed the first twenty minutes in no apparent discomfort, chatting with Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller after the final buzzer. McIsaac did not return for the second period.
Furman South was left to work the remainder of the game as the lone referee, skating alongside linesmen Steve Barton and Dan Kelly.
In a scary moment, South was also hit by a puck with 12:22 remaining in the second period. He was able to remain in the game.
Had he been injured, the NHL would’ve had a tough call to make. One linesmen could switch over to referee the game, with the other handling the lines. They could also consider having one player from each side step in as emergency backup linesmen — at least until another official could make it to the game, which might be possible within the New York metro area. That unlikely scenario – which has happened once before – is covered in Rule 31.11:
[…] the League will make every attempt to find suitable replacement officials, otherwise, the Managers or Coaches of the two Clubs shall agree on Referee(s) and Linesman(men). If they are unable to agree, they shall appoint a player from each side who shall act as Referee and Linesman; the player of the home Club acting as Referee and the player of the visiting Club as Linesman.
If the regularly appointed officials appear during the progress of the game, they shall at once replace the temporary officials.
Retired referee Dan O’Halloran was in the house as officiating supervisor, but not eligible to suit up and take the ice. While all NHL playoff games have at least one official on standby, that’s not the case during the regular season.
South is in his first season as a full-time referee; he made his league debut in 2017 and had been splitting time between the AHL and NHL prior to this season.
McIsaac is refereeing in his sixth NHL season as a full-timer. The Truro, Nova Scotia, native has officiated 417 regular season games along with 19 playoff appearances.
Let’s hope it’s nothing serious. McIsaac has worked the playoffs the past two seasons, and they’re right around the corner.
Get well soon, stripes!