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Politics Only Hurts Minor Sports

The game or rather politics in the game continues with (as one told me) to act like a married couple going through a divorce with no real winners.

One might think that the loser in the game are the players, coaches, officials as well as the parents and it’s not hard to figure out that the leagues will be forced to utilize up and coming officials who are still in the learning stages of their young career.

Reflecting back we know that the BCHL pulled out of Hockey Canada for various reasons which according to the league are legitimate as they move forward with one parent mentioning that maybe it’s time for a reality check.

Players are now forced to make a choice to play in (the outlaw) league as it has been named with no chance to play for championships under the Hockey Canada umbrella.

Players at present told if they play in the (outlaw) BCHL they will not be welcomed back should things take a turn for the worse, which I clearly doubt.

So if the players are not allowed to take part in other leagues what about timekeepers, trainers, volunteers and we are hearing that officials will not be permitted to officiate in other leagues.

The latter; regarding the officials only hurts other leagues considering that there is a huge shortage of officials in the system at present.

I for one truly believe that the development in our area has the potential for growth, but having said that, have a look at the “powerhouse”of senior officials who will be working with the BCHL.

No one (at present) can come close to matching up with the impressive line-up of supervisors the BCHL has put in place and while you might think they can take a second look at the names below.

BC Hockey has a shortage of quality or rather knowledgeable officials working at the higher level of the game and considering the shortage you have to question if leagues using a four person system will revert back to three?

I have confidence that the system will eventually get solved but please tell me how BC Hockey can tell you what you can and can’t officiate and according to some this would be an impressive lawsuit against BC Hockey.

Recently one lawyer mentioned that if this were to be taken ‘pro-bono’ it could put such a negative look at the current parent body.

So if the officials are not allowed to officiate in the BCHL how is it that they are allowed to officiate in the newest JPHLwith no one questioning or raising any issues.

For those who have not seen or taken in a game they are utilizing four officials who have unique sweaters and apparently are paying their officials more than other leagues offer.

We have all seen or been involved in games that have been cancelled due to a shortage or officials in various rinks around town.

Recently one parent mentioned “maybe those in charge should look at getting the politics out of the game and simply let the kids play” and according to this individual they feel the game “would be better off.”

The saga of this on-going soap opera isn’t over yet and like it or not the real losers are the kids playing the game.

Have a look at the impressive line-up of talent the BCHL has working this year and you tell yourself who the winner is?

Just maybe it’s time for the officials in the area to start an Officials Associations as they have in other areas allowing them to control who officials what, where and when – just a thought!!!

Enjoy the read – This isn’t over yet!!

The BC Hockey League announced today that current NHL referee Kelly Sutherland, former NHL officials Shane Heyer and Jay Sharrers, as well as Big Ten (NCAA) Coordinator of Officials Steve Piotrowski have signed on as development coaches and mentors for the BCHL’s Officiating Program in 2023-24.

The group will work directly with BCHL officials, either attending games or watching video, to help them reach their development potential.

Sutherland, from Richmond, B.C., has been an NHL official since 2000, refereeing in 10 Stanley Cup Finals in his career, as well as multiple international events, including the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“I refereed in the BCHL during the 1990s for seven seasons and the experience I gathered in my time there was instrumental in my career path to the NHL,” said Sutherland. “The style and quality of play provided a great training ground as I pursued my goal of becoming an NHL referee. I look forward to helping out the BCHL officials throughout the upcoming season with any advice I can offer.”

Sharrers, born in New Westminster, but raised in Hope, B.C., became the NHL’s first Black official when he entered the league as a linesman in 1990. 

He went on to officiate over 1,600 regular season games and over 200 postseason contests, including seven Stanley Cup Finals. 

He was inducted to the BC Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2020. He currently works as an officiating manager for the NHL, as well as the American Hockey League.

“I’m a proud alumnus of the BC Hockey League,” said Sharrers. “The BCHL is where I got my start in junior hockey. 

I think it’s a great league for young officials to work and develop their skill set. To be able to help out in the small way that I can is very rewarding and something I look forward to.”

Heyer is from Summerland, B.C. and spent 30 years as an NHL official from 1988 to 2018. 

He worked over 2,000 games as both a referee and a linesman, as well as 214 playoff games, including six Stanley Cup Finals. 

He was inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. Heyer is currently employed by the NHL as an officiating manager.

“I’m a proud graduate of the BC Hockey League,” said Heyer. “I worked there from 1982 to 1988. It’s always exciting when I see other officials come out of the BCHL and advance in the game. I’m honoured to be able to help out young officials in B.C. in any way I can.”

Piotrowski, a former college hockey player at Ferris State University, officiated in the NCAA’s Central Collegiate Hockey Association for 26 years, working 14 NCAA tournaments and six national championship games. 

He has headed up the Big Ten’s officiating department since 2012.

Who wins? Keep politics out of Sport!!

“I’m excited to assist in the development of young officials in the BC Hockey League,” said Piotrowski. “The BCHL is a very strong feeder for NCAA hockey players and anything I can do to help the overall quality and success of the league will only benefit those players moving on to college hockey.”

Led by the BCHL’s Vice President of Hockey Operations and former NHL official Brad Lazarowich, the league will announce its 2023-24 on-ice officiating staff, as well as the Department of Player Safety staff, in the coming weeks.

“We are thrilled to bring Kelly, Jay, Shane and Steve on board to work with our officials next year,” said Lazarowich. “We couldn’t ask for a more experienced and professional group. 

Our officials will learn a lot from them and it will help immensely with their development as they work to reach their goals in hockey.”


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