Former NHL referee Rob Shick

Former NHL referee Rob Shick

Referee Shick heads to Sochi

Rob Shick, who honed his skills growing up around hockey rinks in Port Alberni, heads up men’s Olympic hockey officiating in Sochi.

Former National Hockey League referee Rob Shick, who hails from Port Alberni, is headed to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Shick will represent the NHL in his role as officiating manager. The California resident leaves Feb. 9 from New York.

Shick’s job at the Olympics will be to monitor and evaluate all the officials chosen from the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) during the men’s hockey games.

“We will assign them to 30–plus games on the men’s side,” Shick said. There will be three games per day played. At the end of each day, Shick and other officials will gather to assess how the games went, discuss any issues that arose with  representatives from other countries, and hand out assignments for the next day.

Officials are split between the NHL and IIHF now. “It’s all about keeping a level playing field for all the countries involved,” Shick explained.

Referees from the NHL are: Dave Jackson, Mike Leggo, Brad Meier, Tim Peel, Kevin Pollock, Kelly Sutherland and Ian Walsh. Linesmen are Derek Amel, Lonnie Cameron, Greg Devorski, Brad Kovachik, Andy McElman and Mark Wheler.

Shick will meet every day with the officials, to go over rule differences and other issues. “The IIHF ice surface is bigger so positions will be different for them. They’re very well prepared before they go over,” he added.

“It’s a lot of parallels to running a hockey team…we want to give these guys the best opportunity to succeed and be prepared.”

Shick will have a couple of days off during the Olympics, but doesn’t know if he will get to do much. “I’m not sure I’m in too much of a hurry to go outside the secure area,” he said.

His hotel is within the secure area, and he said he is not worried about his safety while in Russia. “You can’t even bring a bottle of water in there, security is that tight. It’s going to be very safe,” he said.

The Olympic events will take place in Adler, about 40 miles away from Sochi, near the Georgian border.

Sochi will be Shick’s second time at the Winter Olympics. He attended the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in the same role. “(Vancouver) was the first year the NHL was involved in the process,” he said.

Shick never got to officiate in an Olympic tournament. He was invited to go to Sarajevo in 1984, but turned pro that year so was no longer eligible, he said.

If there is one thing he is wary about going to Sochi, it is the food. “I wish I would have got a hold of Rick at Hertel Meats for pepperoni and beef jerky. I guess I’ll pack the peanut butter.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com