Faces of the NHL lockout: Whistle blow would be sweet music for league refs

hide

The upside of the NHL players being on strike is that linesman Brian Mach is able to be with his kids a lot more. He is also helping to coach a youth hockey skills camp that both his boys are participating in at Chaska Community Center.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Chris Lee and Brian Mach spend 21 days a month on the road.

They jet across the continent, live out of suitcases and feel privileged to be two of 66 NHL officials who keep nightly order in games, often to the dismay of partisan fans.

"My son's my biggest critic, and tells me things I did wrong," Lee said.

Lee, a referee who lives in Lakeville, has worked 703 games since 1999. Mach, a linesman from Little Falls who lives in Chanhassen, has worked 791 since 2000.

"I have only 'X' amount of years to do my business and to make money. This is now the second [lockout] in my career. It hurts," Lee said.

Lee has two children, ages 11 and 4, and for now is a stay-at-home dad who loves watching his son, Joshua, play hockey. Mach has three children: 9, 7 and 5. He coaches his two boys, Brandon and Nathan, and "gives back" to Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey by teaching and supervising aspiring young Minnesota officials.

Lee and Mach aren't being paid, although the NHL will loan officials $5,000 a month, if needed, out of future earnings.

During the last lockout, Mach worked as a carpenter, doing basements, trim work and remodeling. If the lockout continues, he will look for a job again because, right now, dinners out and non-necessities take a back seat.

Lee is from Saint John, New Brunswick, and his work visa only allows him to officiate. That means he cannot work. Nor can his wife, Cara.

"We're not locked out, but we're a casualty of the lockout," Lee said.

They work out daily to stay in game shape and have weekly rules tests and video refreshers "to stay sharp," Lee said. "We're all pros. We'll be ready when the season starts."

The silver lining is Mach and Lee get to spend valuable time with their families.

"I'm seeing things I haven't seen in 12 years," Mach said.

Added Lee, "We do homework together, stuff I'd normally do over the phone from a hotel somewhere."

Asked recently by his 9-year-old when he's going back to work, Mach tried to delicately explain the lockout. Brandon said, "It's just a game isn't it?' ... He just wants everybody to go back and play hockey. So do I."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - J. Kelly 3:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Arizona - W. Miley 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - A. Simon
Boston - J. Lester 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - D. Price
San Diego - J. Hahn 6:35 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Oakland - J. Hammel 7:05 PM
Texas - J. Williams
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 7:10 PM
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo
Miami - B. Hand 7:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Correia
Cleveland - J. Tomlin 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Pittsburgh - C. Morton 7:40 PM
Colorado - B. Anderson
Detroit - D. Smyly 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Baltimore - K. Gausman 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Lincecum
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Colorado
Calgary 26 FINAL
Edmonton 22
Winnipeg 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Tulsa 6:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 6:30 PM
Atlanta
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close