Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Prior to wearing the familiar black and white striped jerseys, NHL referees wore cream colored sweaters, as well as neckties, which made for a quite dapper look. The cream sweaters lasted into the early 1950's.
1940's NHL referee's sweater
Hockey Hall of Famer and first American referee Bill Chadwick wearing a cream colored referees sweater, complete with necktie
Following the cream colored sweaters, in order to differentiate themselves from the home player's white sweaters, NHL referees changed in March of 1953 to a bright orange style with a half zip front, which sadly meant neckties were no longer worn.
Hall of Fame referee Red Storey tries to maintain order between Gordie Howe and Ted Kennedy in the early 1950's
An orange referee's sweater from the 2005 film "The Rocket: The Legend of Maurice Richard"
Finally on this date in 1955, NHL on-ice officials wore brand new vertically striped black and white sweaters for the first time ever during a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, which was won by Montreal 5-2.
1950's NHL referee's sweater
At some point the referees began wearing orange arm bands to differentiate themselves from the linesmen, and today's NHL sweaters have remained essentially unchanged since then.
1960's NHL referee's sweater, now displaying orange armbands
While the NHL referees' sweaters had now reached what would essentially be their final look, the World Hockey Association, which arrived on the scene in 1972, did so with a splash, outfitting their officials in bold, if not gaudy, red and white striped sweaters, which featured not only the officials number on the back, but their name as well.
1970's WHA referee's sweater
Sometime around 1977, NHL referees began to wear their names on their backs instead of the traditional numbers.
1980's NHL referee's sweater with the referee's name on the back rather than the traditional numbers
The use of names on the back lasted until a return to the use of numbers once again for the 1994-95 season. NHL rules stipulate that referees have to wear numbers between 2 and 49, while linsemen can choose numbers from 50 to 98, with #1 and #99 not being permitted.
2000's NHL referee's sweater
There has been some tinkering of the referee's sweaters as of late, with black undersides to the sleeves, as well as an ill-fated attempt to change the orange armbands to silver for the 2007-08 season in an attempt to tie in with the new silver and black colors of the new NHL shield. With the silver armbands proving essentially invisible, this idea thankfully died a quick and quiet death.
See if you can spot the silver referee's arm stripes
The latest tweak to the sweaters arrived at the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, when new fabrics and additional black trim were added to the sweaters, as well as extending the orange arm bands down the length of the bottom of the arms, which are visible when the referee's arm is fully raised. These sweaters were adopted full time and have been in use starting with the 2009-10 season.
2009 NHL referee's sweater
At times officials have worn patches on their jerseys, such as the league-wide patches for the Stanley Cup Centennial, as is the case with today's featured jersey. There have also been instances of referees wearing memorial patches as well. In the 1989-90 season, officials wore the initials "J. McC." on their sweaters to memorialize John McCauley, the director of NHL officiating who passed away in June 1989. In 2005-06 NHL officials wore a #72 patch in memory of linseman Stephane Provost who passed away in May 2005 due to a motorcycle accident.
Another notable referee's jersey was worn during the 2000 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto, when the teams wore futuristic jerseys inspired by the millennium, which carried over to the referee's jerseys. They featured a vertical orange stripe down the left side of the jersey, both front and back, with the 2000 All-Star Game patch centered over the stripe on the right chest.
The cream colored sweaters were revived during the 1991-92 NHL season whenever two of the Original 6 teams played against each other while wearing their Turn Back the Clock jerseys, as well as that season's NHL All-Star Game, when both teams wore throwback jerseys in recognition of the NHL's 75th anniversary.
1991-92 NHL throwback referee sweaters
The cream throwback sweaters were also put back into service during the first NHL outdoor event, 2003's Heritage Classic when the Montreal Canadiens legends took on a team of Edmonton Oilers legends, with both teams wearing throwback jerseys and the officials once more got into the spirit of the event with turn back the clock sweaters of their own.
2003 Heritage Classic referee Andy Van Hellemond
The next outing for the cream colored throwbacks was an appearance at the 2004 NHL All-Star Game in St. Paul, Minnesota when the referee's joined in with the players throwback jersey look, only this time with the All-Star Game patch on the upper right chest but without the need for the toques!
Unlike the clean look of referee's sweaters in the NHL, the referee's sweaters in european hockey are viewed as prime real estate for advertisements, such as the sponsorship worn by referee's at the IIHF World Championships in the 2000's.
Referee at the IIHF World Championships with sponsorship on his sweater
Not even the traditional vertical stripes of the referee's sweaters are considered sacred in european leagues!
European league referee with an unorthodox striping pattern
Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 NHL referee Andy Van Hellemond sweater. This sweater was worn during the era of referees wearing their names on the backs of their sweaters. This jersey also features the Stanley Cup Centennial patch as worn on not only all the players jerseys in 1992-93, but also the referees' sweaters.
Van Hellemond began officiating NHL games in 1969 and continued to do so until his retirement in 1996, a span of 28 years, which included 19 Stanley Cup Finals. He became the first on-ice official to wear a helmet in 1984, something which became mandatory in 2006-07.
Van Hellemond was the director of NHL officiating from 2000 to 2004 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.
Our video section today pays tribute to referee's and linsemen and the risky job it can be on the ice with the array of sticks, pucks, skates and even fists they must try to avoid, sometimes unsuccessfully.
Several NHL referees and linesmen have written books about their careers from their unique point of view. To purchase one of them, please click on the links below.