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NHL linesman leaves league after 29 years of ruling the rink
Published Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:28PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 6, 2016 7:56PM MST
After 29 seasons patrolling the ice, NHL official and Calgarian Mike Cvik is calling it a career and on Tuesday night the Flames held a special farewell tribute to honour his contributions and many years in the league.
Cvik is one of the most respected officials to set foot on the big ice and has seen action in 1868 regular season games and 88 playoff matches. He has also officiated at the Olympics and for NHL All-Star games.
The Flames honoured Cvik’s dedication to the game with a video tribute during the third period of the game against the Lightning and he was also tasked with the puck drop to start the night off.
CTV Calgary Sports Anchor Heath Brown caught up with the 6’ 9” linesman after the game and asked him how it felt to step on the ice as an NHL official for the last time.
“It’s a little emotional right now just seeing the video and Kelly doing what he did with the third star thing, that was totally unexpected and I just about lost it right there,” said Cvik.
Tributes to the statuesque linesman have been pouring in and Cvik says he has received messages from everyone from Flames alumni to the clerk at the grocery store
“I’ve been getting messages from all of you guys wanting to talk to me about my career and the messages I’ve been getting from my teammates and alumni. This afternoon, from the Flames alumni here, I’ve had 30 or 40 of them just send me nice messages,” he said. “It’s very overwhelming and very humbling at the same time.”
Cvik says his exit was negotiated between himself and the league and that he was given a chance when someone else retired so he hopes another young official will get the same opportunity.
“Getting slower and the aches and pains don’t go away as quick as they used to and it’s time,” said Cvik.
He says the thing that stands out the most for him as he reviews the hundreds of games he has been involved in over the years is the evolution of the league.
“Just the way the game has changed for the better, the athletes are way better. They do things at a higher speed, they’re bigger, they’re stronger, they’re faster. Just the quality of the way the game is being played right now, it’s entertaining. You’d get, ten years ago, a one nothing game and people would be bored, a one nothing game in today’s NHL could be a very exciting hockey game.”
He says there are some things he will miss and other things he won’t miss.
“The guys, I’ll miss the guys and the games out there. The travel, I definitely won’t miss. We have 66 full-time guys and they’re like the band of brothers, I mean, when we’re on the ice we’re four officials, we’re not two referees, we’re not two linesmen, we compete against each other to see who goes on at the end of the season for playoffs and stuff like that, but when we’re out here, it’s just, let’s go get the job done, be safe and make it fair,” he said. “The competition, making the right calls, seeing things and instantaneously making a decision that’s the fun part of this job.”
Cvik says he needs surgery on his left knee to repair some ligament damage and then will evaluate what comes next after he recovers.
(With files from Heath Brown)