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NHL Officials Lose Another

Officiating is an “art” that not everyone understands, nor can they perfect it and it goes without saying that only the strong will and can survive, given the nature of the sport.

Growing up in the 60ties I started officiating due to the passion shown by my Dad, who also was a referee working a high level of hockey when the game was far more physical.

Fights were a part of the game, not that it was encouraged, but just a means of getting the tension and frustration out of your system.

There was no such thing as a “concussion” and it anyone thought you might have one it was that you got a “dose” of smelling salts and you were good to go.

There were no “cheap shots”  thrown out, but if there were you paid the price and the officials enforced the rules as implemented under the guidelines in the CAHA Rule Book.

It was tough, but the strong officials had the respect of the players and league executives in the game and that alone is why they were a success, which is simply down to RESPECT.

Now we are hearing of yet another loss to the officiating fraternity and a friend this past weekend who was an integral part of the program in the National Hockey League for 23 seasons.

He officiated at the time when the game was far more aggressive and physical than today’s game will ever expect to be given the rule changes in place.

The game has changed over time and with the recent loss of Mick McGeough we now hear of the passing of Dave Newell who officiated in  the 60ties to the 80ties, eventually going to work for the NHL as President of the Officiating for nine years.

His Dad was a referee in the senior league as well as his three brothers, two older and one younger, so as you can assume it was part of his make-up or genes.

A Northern Ontario scout from the Maple Leafs that watched him play saw some potential in him but that was short lived – apparently due to his skating, but regardless the following day he was officiating with his Dad working three games a day, six days a week.

If you ask the “old crew” officiating in the late 60ties, 70ties and early 80ties made a better official out of him.

The Flyers style of play was through intimidation with some finesse, but more intimidating than anything else having players like Bobby Clarke, Moose Dupont, Bob “Hound Dog” Kelly as well as Dave “The Hammer” Schultz with Fred Shero behind the bench.

He mentioned in an interview a while back “The first time was in 1966 I was working in the IHL in Columbus. There were two guys who played for Columbus at the time who were from Sudbury. They asked me to stay and go for dinner. I was reluctant because I had another game in Toledo the following day, but they talked me into it. Were sitting in the restaurant waiting for our table when a news flash comes up on the TV indicating North Central Airlines Flight 471 had crashed on takeoff, killing everyone on board. At that point I reached into my pocket grabbed my ticket -Flight 471 so You have to believe in fate.”

His first year working a playoff game in the old Western League in San Diego against Portland who had “Mad Dog” Connie Madigan in the line-up.

The game was rough with match penalties and each time he went to the “sin-bin” Newell was getting grilled.

Newell finally dished him with a Misconduct and as he mentioned “the next thing I knew I was waking up in the dressing room 20 minutes later. He had hit me with the butt end of his stick behind the ear. It knocked me out cold and my watch and whistle ended up about 20 rows up in the stands.”

The next time he saw him he was signed by the Blues who brought him up for the game and guess who was the referee?

As it worked out he (Connie) only played one shift and apparently the coach thought it was a bad move bringing him up, especially with Newell as the Ref.

Dave went on to be an integral  part of the officiating crew in the NHL and this is only a few of the stories that many of the “seasoned officials” can tell.

He once mentioned “The year I was hired by the NHL, they also hired Brian Lewis and John McCauley. But since I was the youngest, I was told that I would be going to Vancouver. The contract was for $5000. I bought a car for $5200 and was already $200 in the hole. My wife, Darlene and I had just got married and here we were hauling a U-Haul heading to Vancouver with an apartment vacancy rate of less than 1% and absolutely no idea where we were going to stay.”

The rest might not be available for print.

RIP Dave.