Old Man Summer

52 year-old referee goes from the NHL to the Inline Worlds


Referee Don Moffatt makes a call during the Sweden-Finland game. Photo: Matic Klansek

KARLSTAD – He’s got the greatest job in the world…just ask any of the referees at this year’s Inline Hockey World Championship.
That’s what they all say as they talk about fellow referee Don Moffatt, a seasoned veteran of just about every level and kind of hockey imaginable.
It’s not the fact that Moffatt is 52 years-old that sets him apart from his peers (although admittedly, that is one key difference). It’s Moffatt’s day job that has earned him the respect and awe of his fellow referees.
Moffatt works with the NHL as a Facilities Operations Supervisor, which basically means he travels to every NHL rink several times during the season to make sure that the ice and its surrounding areas are up to NHL standards – the master of the ice. By his own account he is on the road more than half of each month during the season and during the playoffs he only makes it home a few days each month to pack do the occasional load of laundry.
Moffatt starts the season in Europe for the regular season kick-off there and then goes to each of the 30 NHL arenas several times each season. Once the arenas are up and running Moffatt is responsible for the ice at the NHL Winter Classic outdoor game. The season finishes with supervising the ice for the Stanley Cup run.
So what would make him give up nearly two weeks of his hard-earned summer to come to the Inline World Championship to be an on-ice game official? Simple.
“I love hockey and I especially really enjoy Inline hockey,” says Moffatt.
And its clear that he’s truly enjoying himself at this year’s Inline Worlds as he watches the USA game before he has to suit up to call the big Sweden-Finland match-up.
“I was at the first years of the Inline World Championship and its amazing to me how much the quality has improved. It’s a great event to be a part of.” Moffatt says.
His credentials are impressive – he’s worked Major Junior hockey, the American Hockey League and even two seasons as an NHL linesman. Moffatt is even still an active referee in the USA’s Professional Inline Hockey Association (PIHA) which has around 80 teams scattered throughout the U.S. Even with his busy schedule with the NHL, he has remained firmly planted and dedicated to volunteering and staying involved in Inline Hockey.
“It’s funny, everyone is amazed that I’m as old as I am and still a referee,” says Moffatt. “But to be honest, I don’t feel old and I don’t see myself as being old.”
Backing him up is Inline Referee Supervisor Jon Elvy. “It’s great to have someone with Don’s experience in the group. He’s seen it all and has a calm approach. It also adds an entirely new dynamic to mix in an official with so much experience with the younger rookies. You couldn’t ask for a better learning environment.”
Elvy finds himself chuckling when he’s giving instructions to Moffatt, who is only two years younger. “It does seem pretty odd to be giving a curfew to someone who is basically my own age, but Don wouldn’t expect to be treated any differently.”
Moffatt himself is enjoying being around the dynamic group of officials from all around the globe.
“You do an event like this for the experiences and the people that you meet,” says Moffatt. “It’s not something that you get a chance to do every day, so I was really happy when I found out that I would be able to come to Sweden.”
Moffatt is full of rare experiences. He worked the 2006 Olympics in Torino with the ice crew, was the Director of Operations for the Phoenix Coyotes, worked with USA Hockey’s STAR arena program and even has five previous Inline World Championships under his belt.
But for today, Moffatt is happiest to be in Sweden with his fellow Inline referees.
As Moffatt puts on his roller blades to head out to rink, one other thing strikes him that he really loves about Inline hockey – no ice to worry about, what a vacation for the NHL’s veteran ice master.
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