Yesterday’s announcement that referee Stephane Auger decided to retire from the NHL after 13 years at age 41 came as a bit of a surprise. After all, referees retiring well into what should be the prime of their career is a bit strange.
It’s so much of a surprise, in fact, David Shoalts of The Globe And Mail believes it may not have been Auger’s decision to retire.
The Montreal native decided to retire at the age of 41, the league release claimed, “in order to spend more time with his wife and three children.” There was no mention of a private income, recent inheritance or lottery win that would make this possible.
However, if Auger was forced to the retirement line, as some of his peers suspect, he is entitled to a severance package that will allow him as much as a couple of years as a stay-at-home dad, depending on his length of service. Auger could not be reached for comment but the fact he was not given a farewell season, as many referees are, also indicates the “retirement” was not his choice.
Auger hasn’t been the best of officials in the league. In fact, you could argue he’s been one of the poorer men in stripes in the league. Working just 10 playoff games in 13 seasons of work shows as much. If this was the league’s way of saying, “Go out on your own terms or ours” though, Auger made the right call to leave with his head held high.