Quantcast
skip navigation
Home Players & Parents Coaches Officials Team USA Membership Safety About Help

Safety, Player Development, Record Numbers Highlight USA Hockey Annual Congress

06/09/2014, 12:00pm MDT
By USA Hockey

Safety and player development dominated conversations during USA Hockey’s four-day Annual Congress in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which concluded Saturday (June 8). In addition, the organization reported a record number of players for 2013-14.

“We’re focused on ensuring the safest possible environment and providing a development program that helps players of all ability levels reach their full potential,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “That focus was very evident during our Annual Congress.”

“With the work of our volunteers across the country as well as the support from partners like the National Hockey League, those in our corporate partner family and rink owners, to name a few, we continue to innovate and grow,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “We’re also committed to the use of technology, particularly as it relates to the education of coaches, players, officials and parents.”

SAFETY

On the safety front, USA Hockey’s board of directors unanimously supported the hiring of a national safety director that will lead the organization’s efforts related to both on- and off-ice safety.

In addition, the board approved strengthening rules to influence the reduction of fighting in junior hockey, including adding a 10-minute misconduct to any fighting major at the Tier I and Tier II level beginning in 2014-15.

“Our efforts in player safety include a concerted focus on eliminating dangerous behavior in junior hockey,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, vice president of USA Hockey and chair of the Junior Council. “We’re making significant and continued progress, and from my standpoint as a parent, that’s a real positive.”

Another safety-related item reviewed by USA Hockey’s board of directors was the Look-Up Line, a proposed ice marking that extends 40 inches in width from the bottom of the kick plate of the boards that is “safety” orange in color. The intent is to affect the reduction of head and neck injuries. The board passed a policy statement that allows use of the Look-Up Line line and encourages rinks that utilize the mark to report pertinent observations to the USA Hockey Look-Up Line Safety Task Force.

“There was terrific collaboration on the topic of safety,” said Dr. Michael Stuart, chief medical officer of USA Hockey. “We continue to make progress on all fronts and that is extremely pleasing to see.”

RECORD NUMBERS

The visibility provided by the Olympic Winter Games, coupled with robust efforts in attracting new players to the game and an innovative development program contributed to record numbers for USA Hockey in 2013-14.

The final record player count -- including youth, junior and adult-aged players -- was 519,417 in 2013-14, eclipsing the previous high mark of 511,178 established in 2011-12.

In addition, the total number of players, coaches and officials part of USA Hockey finished at 598,841 in 2013-14, beating the previous best of 594,959 from the 2011-12 campaign.

USA Hockey also set a new mark for total numbers overall, inclusive of players, coaches, officials, administrators, team managers/volunteers, and parents. The final tally of 1,075,424 surpassed the former high of 1,061,130 established last season.

OFFICER ELECTIONS

Three officer positions were up for election and the board unanimously re-elected both Jim Smith (treasurer) and Larry Reid (vice president, marketing council chair). In addition, Charlie Fuertsch was elected to replace retiring Peter Lindberg as vice president/legal council chair.

Other Elections

Donna Guariglia was elected as the director representative to the executive committee; Shawna Davidson and Dave Meisner were re-elected as director at-large; Jenny Potter was re-elected as the athlete director representative on the executive committee; Joe Bertagna and Mike Snee were elected as NCAA directors, while Bill Daly and Don Fehr were re-elected as professional sports organizations directors. Athlete directors elected to the board included Taylor Chace, Chris Clark, Manny Guerra, Meghan Duggan, Shelley Looney, and Blake Sloan.

NOTES: USA Hockey had a record year in sponsorship revenue with final totals up 26% over the 2012-13 season and 38% over the previous Olympic year (2010). In addition, sales at the organization’s online store – ShopUSAHockey.com – were up 80% over last year and 30% above the previous Olympic year … Peter Lindberg was honored during the board of directors meeting in recognition of his contributions to the organization. He has been USA Hockey’s only legal council chair and previously served in multiple capacities with Minnesota Hockey, including as president … President’s Awards were bestowed on T.C. Lewis and Jim Johannson for outstanding contribution to USA Hockey … Representatives of 21 of the 23 U.S.-based NHL teams participated in USA Hockey’s Annual Congress. The only exceptions were the New York Rangers and L.A. Kings, the two teams currently playing in the Stanley Cup Finals … The board voted both Peter Lindberg and Brad Bekkedahl as director emeritus.

Recent News

Photo by: Elan Kawesch/Harvard University

Night of Tribute

President's Awards Dinner

Most Popular Articles

Life of an NHL Official: Part II

02/25/2015, 11:00pm MST
By USA Hockey Officiating Program

A follow-up to Ian Walsh's NHL career-path article (see Stripes - February 2015)

For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials. 

USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?

Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.  

USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season? 

Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that. 

The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.

USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?

Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.

USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official? 

Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.

USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career? 

Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.

USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?  

Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.

USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?

Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.

USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career? 

Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.

Improving the Most Important Skill

02/11/2015, 10:45am MST
By Kelly Erickson

Tag(s): Home  News