Most of the time, NHL officials are only noticed if they make a controversial call or if a puck bounces off of them and creates/inhibits a scoring chance. Yet hockey can be a dangerous sport for anyone on the ice, even the guys who wear striped shirts rather than team jerseys.
That point was made clear during the New York Rangers’ tense, grinding win against the Washington Capitals on NBC this afternoon. The second period included a delay after referee Chris Rooney stumbled behind Washington’s net and showed serious signs of anguish on his face.
There’s a good reason why he seemed like he was in such pain; Jeff Marek reports that Rooney is suffering from a broken fibula and won’t officiate another playoff game in 2011.
It’s tough news for Rooney, but is also emphasizes the fact that the officials are in the line of fire too. A lot of times these guys get a puck in the face and keep working anyway, showing that they belong on the ice with some of the toughest athletes in sports. There were even a few officials who wouldn’t wear helmets until they were forced to do so (although some would argue they resisted such urges because they wanted to show off stylish hair cuts).
Anyway, it’s a tough break for Rooney, but refs can get injured too.