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By Ron Wicks

From the minors to the large time, former NHL referee Ron Wicks recounts lifestyles off and on the ice.

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If I owned a team, Scotty would be my coach. Scotty really did not like to compliment too many players or referees. In one interview around 1975, he said Wicks was getting better as a referee, or, perhaps, not as bad as he used to be! Coming from Scotty that was a fine endorsement! Glen Sather Honourable mention for coaching would include “Toe” Blake, “Punch” Imlach, Fred Shero, and Al Arbour. I would include Edmonton Oilers’ Glen Sather, but not for his playing skills, as I had seen him play. Whenever “Slats” would get on my case for being a lousy ref, I might mention that he was the future consideration in most trades while he was a player.

Campbell passed my name on to the NHL referee-in-chief, Carl Voss. This, combined with Bob Davidson’s recommendation, earned me an invitation to an NHL Officiating Training Camp in Toronto in the fall of 1960. I took the invitation from the NHL to my employer at that time (the City of Sudbury), and they gave me a leave of absence until the end of December. I figured I would enjoy my brief sojourn “down south,” then return “up north” and possibly get on as a part-time linesman for the Wolves games.

I put them, and hundreds of others, in the penalty box because they deserved it. Rules are rules, and I called ’em whenever anyone broke ’em. As a referee, this is my tale. I will take you from the “good old days” when we hauled a goal judge right onto the ice to show us where the puck had actually gone into the net, to the present day, where instant replays decide the outcome of the game. The World Hockey Association and the expansion of the NHL forever changed the complexion of the game of hockey, and I was fortunate to have a rink-side seat through those tumultuous years.

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A Referee's Life by Ron Wicks


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