NHL official Paul Devorski is hanging up his skates after 26 years and nearly 1,600 games officiated. At age 56, Devorski has seen it all and has some fascinating insights and opinions on the game of the hockey. Prior to his final game on Sunday featuring the Penguins and Flyers, Devorski sat down and answered some questions from Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly.
The full Q&A is entertaining and you can read it here, but below are a few of his most interesting responses.
On how the game has changed over his 26-year career:
“I think back, the players were probably slower back then. Compare it to the game today and the speed is unbelievable. That’s probably the main reason with my age, why I am leaving. The game is so fast now, so hard and to get out of the way now, I’d be getting run over in the corner and you’d embarrass yourself. But I found with the speed today, we don’t call hooking and holding anymore. In the old days, Mario Lemieux would have three guys on his back and I wouldn’t put my arm up. And he’d still score a goal. Today, you put one stick on a guy’s arm and we call hooking. They don’t hook and they don’t hold and that’s why the game has opened up so much.”
On whether his job was made more difficult with the addition of a second ref and video replay:
“I don’t know if it’s harder, but certainly there is a lot more scrutiny on you for every call you make. Back in the day, it was one man. They didn’t have video replay. If I missed a call, so be it. We move on. Nowadays, when you finish a game you want to make sure both coaches are happy and that you called the game to their liking. There is so much going on out there right now. You miss something, they’re going to video replay and they’re on the horn and calling somebody and saying, ‘Why wasn’t this called?’ and the answer usually is, ‘Well, it should have been called, but it was missed.’”
Discussing slashing calls on broken sticks:
“That’s a good point because it’s a tough call on some of our guys. I don’t know if they got the mindset that if the stick breaks, it’s an automatic penalty. I think like you do. If the stick is tied up and the guy is leaning on it and it breaks, he’s not trying to break it. In that case, we shouldn’t call a penalty. Most cases when the stick breaks, the guy is coming down on top of it and it breaks. Why we call a penalty there is because you nullified that guy. He can’t play the puck anymore. You take the puck and pass it to your winger. Ninety percent of the time we call the penalty because we think the slash is coming down on top of the stick. But when it’s tied up like that and snaps, it shouldn’t be a penalty.”
Devorski’s answers should resonate with hockey fans. Though he’s stepping away from his officiating responsibilities, it’d be nice to see Devorski stay involved with the NHL in the future.