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Alumni Spotlight

Final whistle: USask alum looks back at lengthy career as an NHL referee

USask alumnus Brad Meier (BScPE’91, BEd’92) recently retired as a National Hockey League referee after a 20-year career. We talk to him about his memories:

G&W: Where was your first game? Your memories?

Carolina at Pittsburgh on Oct 29, 1999. I was awestruck at the start of the game but settled in. It was exciting for several reasons. I had my wife Colleen as well as my parents, Ron and Karen, at the game. It was also a unique experience for me because Mario Lemieux was playing for Pittsburgh, as well as a fellow Saskatonian, Curtis Leschyshyn for Carolina.

G&W: Where was your final game? Your memories?

My final game was Arizona at Calgary on April 16, 2022. This was one of the best days of my career. I was able to select my final game and crew. I also had close to 50 family and friends attend from Calgary, Saskatoon, British Columbia and a longtime friend/fellow official, Brent Reiber, surprised me travelling all the way from his home in Switzerland.

G&W: Best arena dressing room for a referee, and why?

One thing COVID did for the NHL officials was improve all of the dressing rooms. Many of our smaller dressing rooms prior to COVID were moved to larger rooms in arenas to maintain social distancing. As a result, the rooms were more consistent. Over my career the rooms got better every year in terms of what was provided for us. We went from a cooler with water and an energy bar for each official when I began to rooms with fully stocked refrigerators, pre- and post-game meals and anything else that we may have required with a dedicated room attendant assigned to the room.

The hot dogs in Montreal were legendary!

G&W: Best players you shared the ice with?

So many. From the early part of my career, I would say Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, and Nick Lidstrom were all great players AND very respectful people. Then players like Jaromir Jagr, Anze Kopitar and Jarome Iginla. Present day players would be Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, and Alexander Barkov, as they are amazing players and quality people.

G&W: Did you ever make a call that you regretted?

Too many to remember. One that stands out was when I blew my whistle too early when I thought the goalie had covered the puck. This happens unfortunately to all officials. In my case it was in a playoff game in San Jose. As a result, San Jose did not tie the game and ended up losing and were eliminated from the playoffs.

G&W: What city had the best spot to go after a game?

New York City had so many. My favourite was a place called Foley’s (unfortunately closed due to COVID). It was a sports pub in Midtown that had an unbelievable amount of memorabilia from all sports worldwide. Any professional athlete or official that went into Foley’s were asked to sign a baseball which was then put in a display case on the wall. The amount of memorabilia was mind-boggling.

G&W: Most memorable game you ever officiated?

I have three: My first NHL game in Pittsburgh, my first Stanley Cup Finals game in 2017 and the gold medal game in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.