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Continued: NHL director of officiating knows the lonesome road

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 15, 2013 - 10:43 PM

Wild players were upset with referee Steve Kozari in the same game against San Jose. Players say he was continually barking at players and coaches.

“We’re not out there to be argumentative, but there is a point in time where you need to draw the line,” Walkom said. “The players are angling to win the game at all times, and the only people at the rink at any given night who aren’t there to win are the officials. We’re the only guys with no skin in the game.

“I think our guys are pretty professional and pretty good. What happens is, there’s certain frustration levels within the game, if you’re losing right now you’re going to want to deflect a little. Steve is a professional, I know he is, and he’s got pretty good rapport with most of the players. They’re not going to be perfect.”

Just like players and coaches, the goal for every official is to work deep into the playoffs. Officials are constantly evaluated, and it’s more than just black and white.

“It’s their presence in a game, it’s their control in tough situations, it’s following the NHL standard, it’s the ability to keep up with the game physically,” Walkom said. “The evaluation is ongoing. At the end of the year, we put together the guys who we consider are performing the best to go into the playoffs. Then each and every round, it gets knocked out so we have our best team of officials in the Cup.”

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  • Stephen Walkom had gotten a feel for the give-and-take with players and thick skin required as the NHL’s director of officiating.

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