Few officials ever get the recognition they truly deserve for the job they do on the ice. It is something we all know when we take on the role of an official, and for most, it is the love of the game that draws us to pulling the striped jersey over our heads.
However, on October 5th in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ian Heather will be recognized not only for what he has done on the ice, but more so for his incredible contribution to hockey in the province when he is inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. Recognizing the role he has played in the development of the officiating program at the provincial and national level, Ian is being inducted in the Builders Category, a place reserved only for those that have given selflessly to better the sport.
Ian was born in Montreal, but began his officiating career as a young teen In Red Lake, Ontario. He had many successes on the ice, however his greatest hockey achievements took place in the many administrative and executive roles he undertook behind the scenes. He served as the chairman for various officiating development committees, was Referee-in-Chief at many levels, most recently serving as Manitoba’s RIC for nearly 10 years. As an educator by profession, he has always taken great pride in ensuring that officials in the province received strong training in the classroom before they headed out on the ice, and rock solid mentorship when they worked games. His tireless efforts continue even now, as he still instructs clinics and can be seen guiding young officials throughout the province as they pursue excellence.
Ian is responsible as well in the development of current NHL officials Rob Martell, Vaughan Rody and Ryan Galloway, all Manitoba born officials who at various stages of their amateur officiating career were guided by him. As an instructor and national supervisor, he has also had a role in guiding other Canadian officials that made it to the NHL.
Ian’s latest role, and a position he takes great pride in, is as one of the penalty box crew members of the NHL Off-ice Officiating Department for Winnipeg Jets games. Almost every game during the season, he can be seen performing various key roles down at ice level ensuring the game runs smoothly. His keen eye for detail, strong rule knowledge and utmost professionalism made him an obvious candidate for the position when the Jets returned to the league in 2011-12.
Joining Ian the night of his induction will be his incredible wife Margaret, a woman who has worked just as hard for the game of hockey, acting as an assignor for var ious leagues and associations. It is without hesitation to write that Ian’s induction and success is largely due to the unending sacrifices and support that Margaret gave him over the years. Sharing as well in this most prestigious occasion will be Ian’s family, friends and many officials that have had the privilege of working with Ian over many years.
On behalf of the entire NHLOA membership, congratulations Ian, Margaret and your family on this incredible achievement and thank you for your service to the game and officiating development.