Two years ago Marcus Vinnerborg was a trailblazer of sorts, becoming the only non-American or Canadian official in the National Hockey League.
Today, he’s calling it a career.
Vinnerborg, 39, is retiring after just two seasons in the NHL…and just 40 games called (more on that in a sec.)
“Two years ago I was given the opportunity by the NHL to live my dream of officiating professional hockey in North America,” Vinnerborg said in a statement. “My family supported me and thoroughly enjoyed their experience living here. It was a difficult choice, but we have decided as a family to move back to Sweden.”
Vinnerborg thanked NHL Director of Officiating Terry Gregson for giving him the opportunity and said he’ll return to Sweden “a more educated official.”
As mentioned earlier, Vinnerborg wasn’t getting a ton of assignments and the “40 games” number jumps off the page — though to be fair, it’s not entirely unusual. Jean Hebert, who also came on board in 2010, hasn’t reffed many games either.
Also, Vinnerborg was thought to be a pretty good official.
The only red flag came in his first year, when Detroit forward (and fellow Swede) Johan Franzen approached Vinnerborg after a game to congratulate him on becoming the NHL’s first European-trained referee.
Don’t believe for a second that referee Marcus Vinnerborg was biased in calling the Montreal-Detroit game. (The Canadiens were livid about a third-period non-call, and power plays were 6-1 for the Wings.) Do believe, however, shaking hands with Johan Franzen was bad optics. “He’s a good ref,” said another official. “But I’m sure (the league) will talk to him about that.”
Of course, Friedman followed that up with this:
Had the note last week about referee Marcus Vinnerborg shaking hands with Johan Franzen after Detroit beat Montreal. One league official thought that mention was unfair. Franzen came over, stuck out his hand and Vinnerborg was taken by surprise, not knowing what to do. He decided to be polite, but that won’t happen again.
Well, it certainly won’t now.