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Your First European-Trained Ref In The NHL

from Bob Condor of NHL.com,

A professional hockey official like Marcus Vinnerborg knows his best games occur when he effectively goes unnoticed on the ice.

There is one exception, especially if you are Vinnerborg, who has worked in Sweden’s Elitserien, the country’s top professional league, since 2000. That’s if Terry Gregson, NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officials, and his staff are watching you work.

On Thursday, Vinnerborg, 37, was announced as the first European-trained official to join the National Hockey League officiating staff next season. Vinnerborg will be assigned to the American Hockey League but over the course of the season it is expected that he will be assigned to work NHL regular-season games.

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Officiating, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marcus+vinnerborg


Moq's avatar

I read the news on Swedish text-tv after the first round of the WC quarterfinals. If other European officials follow, it could be start of an interesting development for the league. A larger recruitment pool should be an advantage in terms of officiating quality.

Hopefully, Vinnerborg will do well.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 05/20/10 at 04:06 PM ET


Yeah, I like this as well. The NHL already has the best players in the world, it only makes sense to have the best refs in the world, and based on what we saw in the Olympics, I think we’re slacking pretty badly. You can’t blame the refs for everything going on, a lot of it is based on the rules themselves and how they’ve been told to interpret them, but better refs would at least bring some consistency in the calling of games.

Posted by Kstewy16 on 05/20/10 at 04:33 PM ET

Paul's avatar

I heard he is Zetterberg’s Godfather (joke).

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 05/20/10 at 04:36 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Two questions (really three, but one is facetious):

1.) With European born and trained players in the league for somewhere around 40 years, why did it take so long to hire a European born and trained ref?

2.) Why does Vinnerborg need to apprentice in the AHL? Does lil’ g want him to brush up on ice tilting before he gets to be in “the show?”

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 05/20/10 at 05:48 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Does lil’ g want him to brush up on ice tilting before he gets to be in “the show?”

I mean, it seems like they could just send him to “intent to blow” camp this summer, couldn’t they? Maybe he needs to work on his non-calls though, so you never know. I’m sure lil’ g knows what’s best…


Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 05/20/10 at 05:51 PM ET

Moq's avatar

Attempted answers:

1) There are probably two answers to that question. Firstly, I believe the NHL thinks of themselves as selfsufficient and representing the epitome of hockey on all levels. That goes for players, coaches, and officials, hence the reluctance to look outside North America.

Secondly, the concept of professional referees isn’t that common in European leagues. A recent article I’ve (just) read mentions Vinnerborg as one of only two fulltime referees out of the twelve total in the Swedish Eliteleague. Without checking, I don’t think it’s different in other European leagues with the possible exception of the KHL. The lack of professional officials in Europe is probably the biggest obstacle for more European referees in the NHL.

2) The European style and speed of play is a lot different compared to NHL action. Starting in the AHL seems like a good idea rather than throwing him before the wolves instantly.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 05/20/10 at 06:19 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Thanks for your insight, Moq.

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 05/20/10 at 06:22 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Has Don Cherry’s head exploded yet?
Euro trash players and NOW Euro trash officiating.  Oh wait, that was Millbury with the Euro trash comment wasn’t it.
My point still stands.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 05/20/10 at 06:22 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

Hakan Andersson’s hands are all over this. I demand an investigation immediately.  wink

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 05/20/10 at 07:14 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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