THE GALLOWAY REPORT
Featuring NHL Linesman Ryan Galloway of Winnipeg, MB
Keep posted to The Ref Room for all of Ryan's updates this NHL season!
March 15, 2012:
The Home Stretch
As I write this article, I am sitting on a flight from home to my next two games in San Jose. With this trip, there remains less then 200 games before the end of the season. As the season ends a little less then a month from now, this is going to be a busy and exciting time of the year.
Each night, teams fight for every point they can manage to get. For some, it will be the difference between making the play-offs or not. On any given night, based on how the games play out, a team can jump over or lose ground on the teams they are fighting with. For others, a win against a team fighting for a spot potentially sets them up to play the proverbial "spoiler". However, ask any player in the league, regardless of where they sit in the standings, they are always playing for pride. There is not a single team or player that is out of the play-offs that sees these games as any less important then any other game during the season.
For us as officials, this is also an exciting time of the season. We too are working for a play-off spot and every single guy on staff revels the chance to work critical games. The atmosphere in these match-ups is a notch higher then most other games. The passion and importance of each game to these teams is palpable as soon as we step on the ice. The electricity that resonates in the buildings as the fans get behind their team, hoping to play the "seventh player" as they cheer and attempt to intimidate the opposition, makes the game even more exciting.
There is hardly a game right now where a player at some point doesn't say how important this game is to their team. For some reason, whether they truly believe it or they try to influence the officials, they feel the necessity to tell us to take the game as seriously as they do. I can categorically say that there is not a single guy on staff that ever takes a night off at any time during the season. It is not what we as officials can ever do. With the current state of the game, with the scrutiny that each call we make is placed under through HD feeds and replays from every angle, there is never the thought of "mailing one in" and taking any game during the season less important then any other. The energy that we bring every night from game 1 to game 1230 is as consistent as possible.
What needs to be understood is that an official that is selected to work into the play-offs is not based on any standings, nor is it a team endeavor. Although, as a team, we rely on each other for support each game, it is ultimately each of us individually that must prove ourselves to get the opportunity. So with that in mind, there is no way that an official could coast through the season without working hard each and every night, yet still expect to work past April 7th. That being said, there are also the intangibles, like experience, that play a role in the selections. However, ask any official what they need to do, and they will tell you is take care only of what you can control. The only thing we can control is the preparation and application of our abilities night after night.
Whatever day the league makes the announcement to our team of who will be working into the play-offs, there is not a single official on staff that doesn't get selected that won't be disappointed. Unlike a team that can see their fate before the season ends, we as officials don't find out on the play-offs until after the season ends. With the simple act of reading the announcement, our year either continues or it ends. That's it. No precursor and no debate. Either in or out.
Ultimately, it shows the pride and dedication that each official on staff has for their position. Every official feels the same. The excitement of getting in, or the sting of not; the happiness for those that are working and the disappointment for those that are not. Our staff gets cut down by approximately a third, going from regular season to the first round. It is a tough line up to crack.
I know for a fact that when I worked as an amateur official in Manitoba, that same mind set was there even at that level. Every official, from the grassroots official hoping to work the final game in a tournament, to the elite level official hoping to work the Anavet Cup, that same pride was always there. Just the same as a player strives to play in the final game and thrives off the excitement of a game 7, officials want to be in that same position. Regardless of your role in the game, be it player, official, coach or trainer, if you don't want to be in those situations, know that there is somebody right behind you that is willing to take that spot from you.
So, as you watch the games from now until the end of the season (professional or amateur), the effort you see and the pride each official takes in his assignments is no less important then any other game during the season. Each game to us is important and we do not officiate based on the importance it is to the teams. The only thing that changes is how we have to respond to the intensity the teams bring. When they work harder, we have to respond. Rest assured, however, that the benchmark each of us has set during the season is the minimum level we bring to each game.
Thanks for letting us know how important the game is to you.
And now you know what it means to us.
I know that most of the hockey that is played in the province is either well into the play-offs, while others have concluded. I wish success to all officials and teams that are still involved. For those that are done, I trust that this past season served as an opportunity to grow within the game and was a personally rewarding season.