Family is important to any person, but it’s a common theme amongst the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees.
Bill Guerin and Doug Weight have remained close friends in retirement, and both stated their respective families are close as well.
For Peter Karmanos, he helped found the Compuware AAA Midget team in part due to his son.
Two of Ron Mason’s grandsons are also involved in the game. Travis Walsh is a sophomore defenseman at Michigan State, the school at which Mason spent the majority of his legendary career. His other grandson, Tyler, is the video coordinator at Canisius College.
“I don’t know if there’s anything I enjoy more than coming up to watch him play,” Mason said. “They’re both following in dad’s and granddad’s footsteps getting involved in college hockey.”
Karmanos founded the Compuware Hockey Program in the 1970s with the goal of providing a local program to help players reach the height of their potential.
The program has found success over the years, so much that it’s something Weight remembers about his youth hockey experiences.
“Compuware used to thump us all the time,” he said with a chuckle, noting he played for his father’s team.
Cindy Curley reminisced on the days when she was younger playing in cold rinks with here brothers, who were instrumental in her growth as a player.
“They always found time for me to play on teams, even though I was the worst one,” she said. “It’s just great to get them all here. Anyone who knows about hockey knows about the sacrifices.”
But the most notable ties came between Guerin and Weight. Both noted how special it was to be inducted in the same class as someone they played many years with.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better and didn’t work out any better,” Guerin said. “Dougy is not only the ultimate teammate but the ultimate friend. He’s always got your back.”
Added Weight: “He’s a great friend of mine, he’s a great guy. We love to have fun, but he’s very dedicated and I love every time I played with him. So this is sort of icing on the cake.”
The way they act around each other is almost brotherly. While Weight was partaking in his media session, Guerin entered the room and shouted, “Are you done yet? Unless you’re talking about me, hurry up.”
While the people crowded in the room laughed, Weight smiled and looked at the gathered reporters.
“He has really big eyes, doesn’t he?” he quipped.
Long days, great games and high intensity – it’s tournament time. Gary Cutler is the USA Hockey supervisor of officials in Western New York. He’s officiated countless tournaments at both the local and national levels. Cutler sat down with USA Hockey to discuss teamwork, tournament-time preparation and what officials can do to be selected as postseason officials next season.
USA Hockey: What does your current position entail? What are some key responsibilities?
Gary Cutler: My current volunteer position as supervisor of officials entails many different responsibilities throughout the season. It all starts immediately after national tournament week, with organizing local seminars in the fall, participating in summer camps, and solving any registration issues an official might have. We are also identifying those officials that potentially can work in postseason tournaments, the Junior Officiating Development Program or a USA Hockey summer camp. We also communicate with leagues about rule changes or rule interpretations and solve any issues that arise during the year with officials.
USA Hockey: What do you like most?
Gary Cutler: The most enjoyable part of my position is seeing officials improve their officiating skills from their very first seminar they attended up to the level they are presently officiating at, whether it is getting a postseason assignment, working in the Junior Officiating Development Program, college assignments, international assignments, or even working in professional leagues.
USA Hockey: Tournament time. What is your initial reaction when you hear those two words?
Gary Cutler: Long days. Most postseason tournaments consist of 12- to 14-hour days of being at the rink observing officials and making sure the officiating side of the tournament runs as smooth as possible.
USA Hockey: What are some unexpected duties or responsibilities that come with tournaments that officials might overlook or forget?
Gary Cutler: Throughout the entire tournament, the officiating program is a team more than ever. Every official should be helping their teammates so everyone can do the best job they are capable of. A lot of officials have more than one rulebook in their referee bag. An official should have complete knowledge and understanding of the rulebook that they are using, whether it is a regular-season game or a postseason assignment.
USA Hockey: Do officials tend to feel more pressure during tournaments, especially semifinal or championship games? How should they cope with that and stay focused on the task at hand?
Gary Cutler: Most definitely a semifinal or championship game brings a lot more pressure on the officials that have been selected to work these games. The officials that do these types of games generally have these attributes that give them the opportunity to succeed?
USA Hockey: Can you feel the intensity ramp up during tournaments, from the players, coaches, parents, etc.?
Gary Cutler: When tournament time comes around, everyone’s intensity level is increased. As each day of the tournament passes, the intensity level grows until the conclusion of the championship game.
USA Hockey: What can young officials do to position themselves for consideration as officials for next year’s tournaments?
Gary Cutler: It all starts in the summer. Start a physical fitness program over the summer, so when the season comes around, you are in the best physical shape you can be in. Go to summer development camps. When you attend a seminar, come with a positive learning attitude. Officials have the opportunity to be identified as potential candidates for tournaments at these seminars. During the regular season, work hard at every game, for the entire game. Constantly look into the rulebook/casebook so you have a complete understanding of the rules. Improve your officiating skills every game. This can be done by reading your manuals and reviewing the videos on USA Hockey’s website. If you are evaluated, listen, take notes and implement what the evaluator discussed with you when you are officiating games. The moment you enter the arena, put yourself in the proper position to make the proper call.