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!
December 7, 2011:
I thought this month I would answer a common question that I get asked. Whether I am talking with young officials or people that I have met for the first time, I am asked all the time about the travel that is involved as an official in the NHL. There are countless hours spent in airports and airplanes, as well as an average of 150 nights spent in hotels each season. I checked my milage account today with the airline I normally fly with, and so far I have flown 103,000 miles just with them.
Now before I go on, I think I should preface this article by saying that we are well taken care of when it comes to travel. We are allowed to make our own flight choices so that we can plan our travel that best suits our personal preferences. As well, the hotels we stay at are very good properties that for the most part provides a home away from home with comfort. Although we don't travel on charter flights like the players would, we are able to build status with airlines that in turn makes some of the perils of travel a little easier to handle. Priority lines at check in and security, upgrades on flights and access to airline lounges helps ease some of the stresses that the infrequent traveler may face.
When we get our assignments, we are responsible for booking all our travel. I will normally spend a day searching online finding out which flights work best for me. We have a league travel agent that I would then call to book my flights. The agent bills the league directly for our flights. After booking my flights, I will then go back to the computer and make all my hotel reservations. Finally, when necessary, I will book any rental cars in the various cities that we use them. Although it is work and takes some time, I like that I am able to travel on my own schedule, rather then the league booking our travel for us. While out on the road, I pay for all expenses like hotels and rentals and then submit an expense report at the end of the trip in order to be reimbursed.
Normally, when I start a trip, I will travel the night before. Living in Minnesota and facing the occasional flight delay or cancellation due to the weather, leaving early gives me options should I meet a flight interruption. Once I get in to the city I am travelling to, I will either hop in a cab or rent a car in order to get to the hotel. The nice thing about being able to stay at the same hotels when we are in a city is that we are able to meet and build friendships with people in the various cities. It is nice to be able to see a friendly face that greets you when you walk in to the hotel.
Many times I will work a game one night and then travel to another city the next morning in order to work there that night. In these cases, an early morning and a quick meal at the airport is usually in order before catching a flight. Most of the times, when we get to the next city, our hotel room is ready and we are able to catch a few more hours of sleep before heading to the game. The one thing I learned very quickly when I started was that throw any thoughts of regular sleep patterns out the window! Even when I am home for a few days between trips, it takes a few days to get back to normal and sleep properly.
Normally, my trips will average four or five games stretched over a seven or eight day trip. As I am typing this, I am sitting on a flight from Minneapolis to New York. Tonight I will stay right in the heart of Times Square and work tomorrow at Madison Square Gardens. The next day, three of us will make the trip over to Long Island for a couple games, followed by a short trip to Philadelphia for a fourth game. A week from today, I will catch an early flight home, where I get a few days off before heading off for the next trip.
My next trip is a little longer, and when I leave, I won't be home until Christmas Eve. I'm only home for a few days over the holidays, which won't allow my wife and I a chance to get back to Winnipeg to celebrate with our families. That is the hardest thing about this job…..not being able to spend time with our families during special events and holidays. I can't tell you how many family meals and birthday parties I have missed because I am away. It takes a very understanding wife and family to understand why I am not able to be home. I am fortunate to have family and friends that understand this as a reality of the job. Many times when we still lived in Winnipeg, meals would be switched to accommodate us so that we could still be part of the event. The chance to reconnect with friends and family for these meals gave a much needed escape from the routine of living on the road!
Like anyone that travels for work, travel for work is much different then vacation travel. However, I have been incredibly fortunate to visit and spend time in cities that in all likelihood, if it wasn't for this job, I would not have had the opportunity to visit. So whenever I can, I try to take advantage of the down time to see some of the sights or hop in the rental and take a drive somewhere. I did that last year in Calgary, when on a day off and alone in the city, I took the rental and drove to Banff. I had a great day and experienced the splendor of the Rocky Mountains. Or like tonight, an evening stroll through Times Square and over to Rockefeller Plaza will probably be in order.
Not for a second would I even think of complaining about this aspect of my job. I knew that this was going to be a life living out of a suitcase, and feel fortunate to be able to do this. I know that once the season is over, I will have time off to visit with friends and family and make up for some of the lost time. At this time of the year, especially with the holidays approaching, I do miss being able to share them with those closest to me.
As this is the last installment before Christmas and the New Year, I wish all of you the very best of health and happiness for the holidays and a prosperous 2012.
– Skating at Rockefeller Plaza….at 11 pm on a Sunday! (Top)
– Times Square on a beautiful December evening (Bottom)