Born May 28, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan, Mark Howe inherited the hockey bloodline from his father, Honoured Member Gordie Howe. The thrill of Gordie's life was being able to play on a line with two of his sons, Mark and Marty, while playing in the World Hockey Association with the Houston Aeros.
Mark played minor hockey in Detroit with the Tier II Junior Red Wings. In 1970-71, at the age of 15, he collected 107 points to lead the Western Ontario Junior 'A' Hockey League in scoring. A knee injury knocked him out of the first three months of the next season, so when he had regained his health, he joined the U.S. national team and helped the squad win a silver medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan.
Mark's NHL career consisted of 929 regular season games in which he scored 197 goals and contributed 545 assists for 742 points. In post-season play, he scored 10 goals and 51 assists for 61 points in 101 games. In the WHA, he played 426 regular season games, scoring 208 times and assisting on 296 others for 504 points. In the playoffs, he added 41 goals and 51 assists for 92 points in 74 games.
In all he appeared in games for the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings.
Upon retiring, Mark accepted a role in the Red Wings front office and soon began scouting and working with the young defencemen in the minors while making occasional public appearances on behalf of the club. He repeated family history as his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup as the club's pro scout for the back-to-back championship seasons in 1997 and 1998. His name also appears on the Red Wing's 2002 Stanley Cup engraving.
If you’ve ever called USA Hockey with officiating registration questions, you’ve likely heard the voice of Helen Fenlon. As the manager of officiating administration, Fenlon is the brains behind registration operations. She started working with USA Hockey in 1991 and joined the officiating department in 1993.
Fenlon took a break from readying eager officials for the upcoming season to tell us more about herself and the registration process.
USA Hockey: How did you first get involved with USA Hockey? Did you lace up the skates or make the call on the ice a time or two?
Helen Fenlon: (Laughs) No, I wasn’t a ref or player. I was a mom and I had a child that played. I volunteered at the local association for a number of years and volunteered at USA Hockey. Before I knew it I was employed by them and have been doing this job ever since. It’s nice because I’ve seen the volunteer side and know how the local and state boards work because I did all of that when my kids were growing up.
USA Hockey: What’s a typical day like for you?
Helen Fenlon: I work on the officiating registration. When everyone registers (to be an official) they are mailed out books to do the test and emailed information about doing the test online and ways to sign up for seminars online as well. Then I score the test when they come in for the closed-book test and basically answer all the questions that pertain to the ice hockey refs. I manage approximately 24,000 registrations when from August 1 through March. Once the registration period is over, we start getting ready for next year.
USA Hockey: How has the registration process changed in your 21-year tenure?
Helen Fenlon: When we first started, we used to mail them out the application, have them mail it back with a check and then we would process it. Once that was done, we would mail them a test and they would mail us back their answer sheet when they were done. It was all done by hand back then. Now, for registration, they just go online and pay with a credit card and the test is also done online. It’s much easier for everyone involved.
In the past, we also would just do an open-book test, but it’s evolved into different levels of doing an open-book and closed-book test, and some do a skating exam, too. Also going into place this year, everyone will do an online seminar.
USA Hockey: Officials must be happy to have the process accelerated thanks to online capabilities.
Helen Fenlon: It’s great for people to access the test faster and be able to turn materials around faster so they can start working. To some of these people, it’s a job. Others do it because they want to help kids. People do it for all kinds of different reasons. For me, it’s impressive to see people who stick with (officiating) for so long.
USA Hockey: How have the resources available to officials changed through the years?
Helen Fenlon: Right now, with the new rules and programs in place, the amount of resources available for officials education is improving, but we’re always looking for more ways to help our officials be successful.
USA Hockey: What’s one thing you want to remind everyone about?
Helen Fenlon: It’s always been my goal for everybody across the country, whether you’re in Colorado Springs, New York, California or anywhere in between, to follow the same rules as far as being able to become an official and complete the registration. That’s the fair way, and it’s the best way to ensure the best quality of officiating throughout the country.
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