Cover

At last, the refs get their due

Robert Sheppard November 22 1999
Cover

At last, the refs get their due

Robert Sheppard November 22 1999

At last, the refs get their due

Their names will be the

trivia pursuits of hockey fans for generations to come: who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Wayne Gretzky? (Hint: neither were former players.) But the two fellow inductees who may wither a bit in the glare of the Great One have no cause to hang their heads. In fact, both have made careers of being decidedly in-your-face: former NHL referee-in-chief Ian (Scotty) Morrison, and former ironman referee Andy Van Hellemond.

Of the two, it might even be said that Van Hellemond is Gretzky’s rival in the record book, at least in his own craft. The pursed-lipped Winnipegger who learned his trade on frozen rinks—refer-

eeing for $3 a game in -20° C weather—had a tough-asthey-come 24-year career in the NHL. Before retiring three years ago at age 48 to become executive vice-president of the East Coast Hockey League, Van Hellemond wore the stripes in 1,475 regular season games and 227 playoff

matches, including—a sign of respect—19 Stanley Cup finals. No other official comes close to that kind of output. Along the way he had his nose broken twice, suffered four cracked ribs and a smashed hand, and was occasionally the subject of death threats.

For much of his career, Van Hellemond toiled under the tutelage of the diminutive Morrison, the league’s refereein-chief for 21 years and an old-school hockey boss who was not shy about telling his officials what he thought: sometimes by drop-kicking the garbage pails in the officials’ changing room between periods if he felt his refs were calling a poor game.

But Morrison enters the Hall of Fame as a “builder”—largely for the institution that will house his legacy, along with that of the game’s greatest prac-

titioners. President of the Hockey Hall of Fame from 1986 until he retired last year, Morrison was instrumental in transforming a dowdy out-ofthe-way hockey museum into a downtown centre of hands-on family entertainment that has become one of Toronto’s premier tourist attractions—and a fitting shrine for the great ones.

Robert Sheppard