After nearly 25 years, number 25 is calling it a career.
Referee Marc Joannette will officiate his final National Hockey League game tonight as the Montreal Canadiens host the Detroit Red Wings.
He’ll handle his final assignment alongside a hand-picked, all-Quebec crew of referee Francis Charron and linesmen Jonny Murray and Michel Cormier.
Joannette’s NHL debut came on October 27th, 1999, officiating a game between the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning alongside referee Kerry Fraser and linesmen Derek Amell and Tim Nowak. His 1000th NHL game, in 2005, featured the same clubs he’ll bee seeing tonight: Montreal and Detroit.
“He’s a consummate pro,” said NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom of Joannette back in 2005. “He always has a calm demeanor, he has a great presence in the game and a real understanding of the game. He quietly handles a lot of tough situations because he communicates so well with the players and with the coaches.”
The ref known as “Jojo” went on to work 1,520 regular season games, along with 172 playoff matches – including three trips to the Stanley Cup Finals (2008, 2009, 2018) and the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, held in Montreal. Joannette also took the ice for a number of outdoor games, including the 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo, the 2014 Stadium Series game at Chicago’s Soldier Field, and the 2017 Centennial Classic at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa. He was also chosen to referee the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Joannette was recently honored for officiating his 1500th National Hockey League game earlier this season.
Now the native of Verdun, Quebec, will wrap up his career just fifteen minutes from home.
“It’s been a lot of sacrifice and time away from home,” Joannette said, looking back on his career after reaching the 1500-game milestone. “A lot of support from people around me these least 25 years. It’s been a long journey.
oannette who made his NHL debut on October 1st, 1999 in Buffalo at the old Marine Midland Arena (Lightning vs Sabres) will leave the ice with a total of 1,520 NHL Regular Season games worked along with 170 NHL Playoffs games.
From the NHLOA:
The Verdun, QC, native started his officiating journey at the early age of 14 after his father, an organizer in the local minor hockey association, suggested he attend an officiating camp. It didn’t took long before he fell in love with the challenge and started wearing the black and white uniform that same season.
He would continue his playing days until the age of 17 when he decided to turn his attention to officiating. Joannette spent his first three seasons mainly working all levels of minor hockey in the Lac Saint-Louis region and in the west portion of the Montreal Island. His natural talent was quickly recognize at age of 18 when he made the officiating team of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) as a linesman, a league where he would spend a total of 11 seasons. He would eventually transition to the referee position in the QMJHL.
Joannette realized around the age of 23 that his passion could potentially land him a position with the National Hockey League when he was offered to join the defunct “NHL Officiating Trainee Program”, where he was assigned to work several minor pro and junior major leagues across North America learning the ropes and gaining valuable experience while still working the QJMHL.
In the summer of 1998, after completing five full seasons in the “Trainee program”, the NHL offered him a full-time minor leagues referee contract, working primarily American Hockey League (AHL) games while gradually earning some NHL assignments.
Joannette was promoted to a full time NHL referee status in the summer of 2000.
Retiring officials do not advance to the postseason, so this will be Joannette’s final appearance wearing the NHL crest.
The ‘Au Revior’ Tour has been underway for a few weeks, with Joannette wrapping up his final trips to Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden last month, then Ottawa on Saturday. Last stop: Montreal.
The @MapleLeafs congratulating Marc Joannette on a great career @nhl @ScoutingTheRefs @Senators pic.twitter.com/8RvlFqGVue
— Hey Stripes (@HeyStripesVideo) April 2, 2023
Tonight, he’ll be sent off with one more round of handshakes. One that will put a cap on an amazing career in stripes.
Congrats to referee Marc Joannette on his final NHL game tonight! 🤝 pic.twitter.com/KG1vcijeqS
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 5, 2023