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A quick Q-and-A with recent USHHOF inductee Kevin Collins

By USA Hockey, 01/04/18, 10:00AM MST


Learn more about U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Kevin Collins in this induction Q-and-A.

USA Hockey: What was the most memorable game you worked during your career?

Kevin Collins: 1994 Stanley Cup Final, Game 7, New York City, Madison Square Garden.

USAH: Is there a player you wished you got to officiate or watch but never got the chance?

KC: No. The job is not player-related. Don't get me wrong. I lived through Gretzky's whole career and I can go down the list. You know they're out there, and you know they're doing some wild and crazy things that make them superstars, but if you start being a fan on the ice, you're not going to last very long; you have a job to do. One of the perfect examples of what I'm trying to get across is, I was on the ice for Gretzky's whole career, and then Scott Niedermayer, when I came off the ice, and I went into management. Then you're sitting up (above the ice). You're looking down. It just slows the whole game down. When I was sitting up there, Scott Niedermayer had a knack for, even if he got involved and moved up with the play, then as the play turned around to go the other way he was already skating backwards and breaking up a 2-on-1, and you go, 'How the hell did he do that?' I was able to watch him and say, 'Wow, this guy is amazing. Look at the hockey sense, and to be able to read the play and move the way he did.' And then the one regrettable thing I probably do have is this: Gretzky was the master of that. He wasn't the best skater, but he was like three times better than Niedermayer at doing what he's doing. And once I saw Niedermayer from the perch, the first thing that came to my mind was, 'I wish I saw Gretzky from up here.' It had to be awesome.

USAH: Does a game stick out as one you were most nervous for?

KC: I don't think nervous is the right word. One thing about officiating, especially at the highest level, is it's super competitive. To get into playoffs, and then get to the next round, and the next round, and get to be selected to do a Game 7, that's the ultimate. To do a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup is like a player winning MVP of the league. You want that. You don't get nervous about it. I'd get disappointed when I didn't get that game. That bothered me more than worrying about doing it. You want the game.

USAH: Was there a penalizable offense that NHL players most thought they could get away with?

KC: I don't think I've ever been asked that question before. I don’t think intentionally they thought they could do something, or if they did, they wouldn't be telling us. Every time you missed a call they'd probably say, 'Wow, I got away with one,' and you hoped you didn't do that too often because you wouldn't last very long.

USAH: Any advice for a young official with aspirations to referee competitive hockey?

KC: Every time that person steps on the ice to do a game, it's competitive. I'm being philosophical here, but when you first start and you're doing 12U or 10U, you know what? That's the highest level you can possibly do it at right now, so that's your Stanley Cup. Whatever game is thrown at you, you have to go out and do it. You can't start officiating and then say, 'My goal is to work in the Stanley Cup.' It's never going to happen that way.