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Martin’s Résumé Missing Only Olympics

03/18/2013, 9:00am MDT
By Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH — Paul Martin's first experience representing the United States as a professional came not long after his NHL rookie season.
  
The former University of Minnesota star and second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils had a solid rookie campaign in 2003-04, showing enough promise that Team USA’s entrant in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey invited the then-23-year-old to join the team.
  
But it was purportedly just for the exposure to the event — not to actually play in the games.
  
“A couple guys got hurt — probably about seven or eight guys, actually,” Martin said with a smile. “They had said, ‘Just come hang out.’ I don't even think I was supposed to play. But I got to meet a lot of them, and I ended up playing a couple games, so it was a great experience.”
 
A college player just a little more than a year prior, Martin suddenly found himself playing the highest level of hockey the world has to offer. He also was instantly teammates with some of the legends of recent American hockey that Martin had grown up as fans of: Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Bill Guerin, Doug Weight... 
 
“As star-struck as I was, those guys were great to me and I learned a lot from them,” said Martin, now a defenseman with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I realized how important it was to them and how much fun it was. It’s definitely an opportunity that you don't take lightly and you appreciate.”
 
That was Martin’s first experience representing his country since he joined the NHL, but it wouldn’t be his last. He also played in the 2005 and 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and was on the roster for the 2006 and 2010 U.S. Olympic Teams.
 
Although Martin did not get to suit up for a game during Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, or Vancouver (he was on the taxi squad for the former and was injured during the latter), he’s certainly gained an even greater appreciation for wearing the Team USA jersey in international competition.
     
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to play for my country,” said Martin, who also played in the 2001 World Junior Championship. “Growing up it’s kind of cool because you come from all over the states and get together with top-end players and get to travel the world, and obviously being able to represent your country is a big honor and I take a lot of pride in it.
 
“As you get older, you realize how important it is and how much more it means. As a kid you’re just playing hockey and it’s one of those cool, like select All-Star deals. But when you get older you realize how many opportunities you might get or might not get. So for me, it’s been a great experience every time I’ve been able to wear the red, white and blue.”
 
Born in 1981, Martin’s age makes him something of a bridge from the group of players that was face of USA Hockey for a generation (Chelios/Leetch/Modano/Hull/Guerin/Weight/Keith Tkachuk, etc.) to the new wave of young American stars such as Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Paul Stastny, James van Riemsdyk and Jonathan Quick.
  
“Those [older players] had played 20 years, 15 years on USA teams, and it was always fun to watch them,” Martin said. “You just always assume that they’ll be there forever, but everyone gets a little older and now the last Olympics was kind of a passing of the torch.”
 
USA Hockey’s star players have changed since Martin's been paying attention — and the areas that produce them have, too. Whereas when Martin first was coming up, the vast majority of players came from New England, Michigan or Martin's home state of Minnesota, hockey has become more of a national game for kids to play.
 
For proof, Martin needs only to look across the Penguins locker room. Rookie Beau Bennett was born and trained in Southern California.   
 
“It’s great to see we’re getting guys from all over the place, down south and warmer climates that you typically don't get for hockey,” Martin said. “It definitely helps the game, and hopefully, I’m sure, it will continue.”
 
At 32, Martin knows his chances for wearing a Team USA sweater in international competition are dwindling. The NHL has yet to announce if players will be made available for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
Even if NHL players are given the green light, Martin, of course, would still need to be selected for the American team by the coaching staff. And, unlike three years ago, he would have to remain healthy.
 
But assuming everything falls into place, it goes without saying Martin would relish the opportunity to play for Team USA in virtually the only stage that has eluded him: the Olympic Winter Games.
 
“It’s still a ways off, but it’s definitely something that, as far as loving that chance or being able to have an opportunity, I’d be grateful for it,” Martin said. “Being on the taxi squad in Italy and being able to be on the team but be injured for Vancouver, it was tough to take.
 
“Growing up playing on all the USA teams you realize how special it is and how much fun it is, and then not being able to participate is always tough, but it definitely made me a stronger player and person and I’m looking forward hopefully to the next Olympics, if they let us play, it’s something I would be glad to be a part of.”
 
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN OFFICIATING

08/25/2015, 3:30pm MDT
By USA Hockey

No one has ever said that officiating, and especially officiating ice hockey, was easy. Rule knowledge, communication skills, fitness, skating and a natural presence are just some of the skills necessary to be a successful official.  Some possess more of these skills and those are the officials who advance to higher levels. But regardless of the level achieved or the skill set the official possesses, the one quality that should be equal among every official is a high level of integrity.

The national official staff members, along with our volunteer referees-in-chief and local supervisors, have heard growing concerns over a decreasing level of integrity among our youth hockey officials. It’s sometimes said that no one is holding them accountable. A portion of this perception is likely a typical “blame the officials” mentality, but some anecdotal evidence suggests there is also some merit to this concern. That’s alarming to USA Hockey, as it affects the credibility of our entire program, along with every member it represents. The blunt truth is this: even one official who isn’t on the up and up can and will damage the credibility of all officials who do take pride in the integrity of their work.

Whether we like it or not, officials are under a microscope, and by the nature of the business, are held to a very high standard. When we signed up for this officiating gig, we committed ourselves to represent the game of hockey, USA Hockey, our local group of officials and ourselves as people of integrity who accept the responsibility and guardianship of enforcing the rules in a fair and consistent manner. Most importantly, we must remember that the game is bigger than all of us and that the game itself is what we serve. Those who lose sight of that not only compromise the competitive fairness of the games, they also make life more difficult for all of the officials by damaging the credibility of the officiating community.

An example of this type of unacceptable behavior occurred last season. A Level 2 adult official tended to work his games with a chip on his shoulder. He often created confrontation with coaches, alienated his younger partners with inaccurate advice and disregarded their help in attempting to get some calls and rule applications right. Even though the help they were providing was correct, he chose to maintain his incorrect position that affected the outcome of several games. He also tended to identify certain players and single them out for various infractions and/or on-ice lectures as a means of emphasizing his authority.

Once the trends were identified, concerns were voiced by several parents and coaches to the local assigner and supervisor, who acknowledged they had never seen the official’s work, but would keep throwing him out there working the same teams and levels that had expressed concerns regarding his attitude. This included intentionally assigning him a playoff game involving the coach who was the most vocal in expressing concerns. This official was then instructed to “throw the coach out if he says anything.”

That playoff game went without a hitch – a tight 2-1 game with a couple of close off-side plays and maybe an icing or two missed. In the post-game dressing room, the official in question, in the presence of his partners and the officials scheduled to work the next game, said, “It’s always a great day when you can make one or both of the coaches mad. It’s too bad the white team coach didn’t want to play along today.” The partners sat there in silence until finally a 12-year-old Level 1 official who was working the next game said, “I don’t think that’s right. We’re not supposed to bait coaches.”

The official got dressed quickly and left the room without saying another word. Kind of ironic that it was the innocent 12-year-old that seemed to “get it” and instill a sense of accountability among those in the room. Imagine how any 12-year-old player feels on the ice when they see the official(s) displaying an attitude that is simply not to the standard the game deserves. And yes, more often than not, they can see through those who do not have the level of integrity expected.

Fortunately, these types of officials are few and far between. But they do exist and to simply stick our heads in the sand and not address the concern is irresponsible. Each of us, as officials, has an obligation to behave in a professional manner at all times and take our role seriously. We have made a commitment to approach each game with the understanding that the game is about the players and we should be invisible until the players require us to appear as a result of infractions that occur. Respect is a two-way street and simply putting on the sweater with the USA Hockey crest suggests respect is warranted, but only if supported by your actions.

USA Hockey has an obligation to create a non-threatening environment that promotes respect for officials and an opportunity for officials to improve through education and evaluation. USA Hockey does this through playing rules, points of emphasis, zero tolerance policies and comprehensive education programs for officials, coaches, parents and players.

In return, the game expects USA Hockey officiating members to bring a professional image to every contest and an attitude that creates a positive environment and makes the game better. We realize everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of the game. However, laziness or unprofessional behavior is unacceptable and being creative in rule enforcement and not holding players/coaches accountable for infractions will only make the next team of officials’ jobs much more difficult and set them up for failure.

The reality is that the game official must always hold themselves to the highest level of integrity and behavior both on and off the ice. Maybe that’s fair, or maybe not, but it is the expectation we are required to meet.

As we head into the 2015-16 season, ask yourself if you are willing to meet that expectation. If the answer is yes, welcome back and we look forward to a great season.

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