WhyWeWork BrianVee
WhyWeWork BrianVee

Episode 65 · 2 years ago

#65 Gord Dwyer - NHL Referee - BrianVee WhyWeWork


Gord Dwyer is a veteran National Hockey League (NHL) referee. Today he talks about his long journey to his dream. In a humble manner he exhibits a strong work ethic that started in his youth, which will continue even after he decides to hang up his skates.

His bio can be found on the NHLOA page (https://www.nhlofficials.com/nhl-officials/view/42):

"Born in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Dwyer grew up playing hockey in the Sackville Flyers Minor Hockey program. He would go on and play until his junior years, playing Junior B for the Sackville Blazers and a stint of Junior A with the Halifax Oland Exports before retiring at the age of 20, focusing on officiating. His officiating journey started a few years earlier at the age of 14 while he was still playing minor hockey. He spent his first few years working all levels of hockey in the Sackville Minor Hockey System before reaching the elite levels once his playing days were over where he officiated Junior and University games. A couple of years later, Dwyer was hired by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) to work as a linesman, while still working the lower levels as a referee. The Saint Mary’s University graduate, who studied Psychology and Criminology, made the transition from being a linesman to wearing the orange arm bands in the QMJHL the very next season. His passion for the game and his determination to make it to the NHL as a referee had him packing his bags in the summer of 2001 heading to Amarillo, Texas to work the Central Hockey League (CHL) full-time as a referee. Dwyer spent two seasons in the CHL reaching the finals in his second season. He was offered a Minor League referee contract by the National Hockey League in the summer of 2003 and was promoted to a full-time NHL referee status three seasons later in the summer of 2006 at the age of 29."

He also played two years for the Sackville High School Kingfishers Hockey Team for two years.

Gord made some highlights throughout his career:

1. https://scoutingtherefs.com/2017/02/17851/ref-blasts-stalberg-for-arguing-call/

2. https://www.nhl.com/video/dwyer-honored-for-1000th-game/t-277350912/c-5339557

3. https://www.bardown.com/the-nhl-s-best-referee-call-of-the-year-came-last-night-at-the-expense-of-the-vegas-golden-knights-1.1222417

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFiUSEfaDjk

5. https://scoutingtherefs.com/2020/09/29797/weird-nhl-rooneys-not-blowing-it-dwyer-picks-up-a-stick/ (11 minute mark)

6. https://nesn.com/2019/06/stanley-cup-final-game-7-referees-nhl-goes-back-to-game-6-crew-in-boston/

7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qd4k_UZObA

...welcome to why we work with your host Brian V. As he speaks to people like you from all over the world as we together dive deeper into our motivations, struggles, joys, seemingly missteps, hopes, warnings and advice, which would be an encouragement to us all to get up, get going and keep on working. Working is tough, but working is good. Now here is your host to why we work. Brian V. I'm Brian V, and this is why we work today. I have the great pleasure of speaking with Gore. Dwyer. He is an NHL referee, and he's from my hometown of Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Obviously, I want to know how it is to be in the NHL, but I want to know his determination and his passion, how that drove him to be where he is. I also want to know about maturity, being a young guy in the NHL and then growing up, being with these younger guys, that air now players and how he's able to help them, whether his colleagues or even the players themselves. Hopefully he has some words of encouragement for you. As you consider about following your dream and following your passion. Join me in my conversation today with Gord Dwyer. I'm Brian V, and this is why we work today. I have the great pleasure of speaking with Gordon Dwyer, also known as Dewey. Good day. Fine, sir, I think is actually evening. It is Evening. Yes, just after 9 p.m. Here in Dallas. Thank you for coming on. I know the people that know you and the people that know me know that we would know one another because we're both from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada. And I know there's a proud bunch of people that know you and know of you. And just even being from sackful, would you be a bit Give us a little idea who you are? I did just do an introduction to you, but just a little one. And then I might take you back. Yeah, I know. Like you said, I'm proud to be from lower sackful, born in race, and whenever asked where I'm from, I usually say just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia town called lowers actual. So I think that's something in common with most people from Sakhalin. Our generation. Anyway, I think we're proud to be from. So yeah, I just I grew up there probably middle class, like most people, and played hockey my whole life. They're free of my whole life. And, uh, I went to college and referee, but I was going to university, and one thing led to another end up being a rest of all hockey referee. I guess that's a long story. Short. But now it's really good. Gord, let's go back. Because all of those things you mentioned, I'd like to touch on and obviously get into you being an NHL referee. But what was your I mean, it would have been in sackful. I mean, maybe adventure to Bedford or Halifax. I'm not quite sure, But your very first job, maybe. I know you did some refereeing, but what would have been your very first thing that maybe made you a dollar or two? Maybe the very consistent thing would have been a papers E. I mean, I would shovel the driveway or mow the lawn when you're a kid, you know, to make a couple bucks, but that's not really consistent business when you're 10, 11 years old, so I get a paper route. I think it was in grade five degrees. Where'd you live? You lived on Sycamore, wasn't it? Just office Sycamore. Make more. Yeah. Yeah. So you had that that robe come Or to Glendale? Kind of. Why a lot of people that I've interviewed, including myself. It was when I first newspapers with the Daily News. I got fired, though, because I was throwing my papers in the ditch. That's because you have to deliver in the morning. I did the male...

...star e did. And not only that, I was doing sackful drive. So I had all the businesses. Yeah, from, like Glendale past McDonald even down Thio superstore? Yeah. Why did you get that job? What got you out of the house? Uh, that's a great question. I'm trying to think I was always on my parents always made me try to earn money to pay for things that I wanted or needed. Maybe not that I needed, but things that I wanted that work necessities. I wouldn't say they made me pay for new hockey equipment growing up and things like that that I needed. But, um, if I wanted a new bicycle or by wanted a stereo or one of the new pair of sneakers and didn't need a new pair of sneakers. They would be like, Well, you got to save somebody, pay for some of it. So I think at that age, it was probably one of the only jobs you could have at that age. You could earn money and steady paycheck. You know, whether how big or little it waas, Um I want to say that guy. I think it was the house that I used to be babysat out. I think a guy there at the paper route, and then he was getting too old papers. That's it on. So I took it over because that's how that's how I got so long ago. Now I forget what? I'm pretty sure something similar for me. Someone passed it on. Yeah, when you started that road, how old were you? I think I was in great five. So what would we be in? Great. Five, maybe. And 11, maybe 11. Probably. We? Yeah. We're gonna try to chronicle some things about you. So when did you first strap on the skates for hockey? I mean, being from Canada and all probably three or four. So you were playing hockey Pretty pretty serious. That would've been Banham, maybe. Yes. So at that age, you know, at 11 probably would have been peewee, peewee and Bantam Peewee hockey. So in RHP, we would have been, actually, probably would have been Adam Peewee, because in junior high, I would have been peep at that time, then Banham and then midget slash high school hockey was similar age. So I was probably last year of Adam. First year, peewee, when I got my paper. Probably so in between, uh, starting your refereeing and your paper road. Or how long did you keep your paper road? Until you got another job. I kept my paper it until I was actually an old paper boy. I was probably like, 16 years old, still delivering papers in high school. They gave good Christmas presents. Yeah, well, I love you, but one of the boys who always gave all my customers Christmas cards and, uh, you know, I had the baby looked, so I just smile and be nice to them, and yeah, you get a good sense of Christmas. It was great, but it was like I said it was a consistent paycheck, and it was easy, so I didn't need to give it up. And then once, once I was in high school and was refering Maurin playing hockey more and you start to get a little bit more of a social life, then you're like, Okay, I don't have time for this. I can s So then even knowing that you were refereeing at 14. Is that your first started at 14. So you had to part time jobs? Yeah, absolutely. What got you into refereeing? Because at that point, you're a good hockey player. Yeah, and I mean, I Well, I was e I was little. I was I was little. I was always one of littler guys growing up. I was never big, but it was a half decent hockey player. It wasn't like a great, fantastic player. You know what I mean? But, you know, I was saying and then I spent a lot of my time in the ring...

Anyway, Even when I wasn't playing, I'd either be down there helping with the younger kids, developmental camps or wanting to help coach little kids like I just enjoyed it. So I was always in the rank anyway. And then my dad actually invention. So why don't you referee, like you're always in the rank. Basically free ice time and you get paid for like then you get paid good money a lot more money than you do delivering papers. So why don't you start referenda? I was like, Well, I don't really want Thio. I didn't really have a whole lot of interest in it. Uh, I started. And once you kind of get that first paycheck, that makes up for some of the lack of interest, you know, then you grow a passion for it. After that, it's it's interesting because as a young kid, my uncle got me into doing the clock for hockey and never referenda or anything like that. But it's a really interesting atmosphere and a lot of people, unless you've been in arena and I'm sure it applies to any other sport and doing refereeing or doing, you know, you could do volleyball or any other sport, but it's just interesting atmosphere. Nice, cold. Rina, you're getting ready, Teoh. You know your for you strapping on your skates or you're getting the clock ready. Getting the time sheets ready. It's just interesting thing, especially thinking of listeners of starting a job. You're not sure what to do if you want to get a job. These air some, you know, part time jobs that things you might wanna look into. Especially if you're young kid. Oh, for sure, Absolutely. And you like. So I think some places you can start younger than 14, but in sackful or Nova Scotia Hockey Canada, whatever the regulations where you had to be 14 to start 14. Um, they didn't allow 13 year olds or 12 year old. So, and and I think you have to be 16 at the time to have a part time job. If you wanted to work at McDonald's or Burger King, you have to be 16. So you're already 14 years old and you want to make money, and what do you do till you're 16? That's a perfect thing to do, and it z good money. It's it really is for that age. Great. That's great money. So they want you going on, too. So, yeah, absolutely. Basically your referee as much as you want, because we have Mawr kids that probably leave refereeing every year then join refereeing because it z too demanding. Well, I wouldn't say it Z demanding on. Yeah, there's a lot of verbal abuse like the Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, But for me and my level, who cares? But if you're 14, 15 and 16 years old and you're on the ice and and you have all these parents yelling at you, calling you every name in the book So what do you want to do? That e I never thought of that. But I remember being in the in the booth, right with the clock. And if I made a mistake, you know, and I was doing gentleman's league. So you have a guy come over tapped? I tapped the stick on the on the glass and, like, Come on. Yeah, yeah, I know you're going story, dude. Like E. So you coughed the puck up the middle. You made a mistake, right? But honestly, like that is a big downfall and minor verbal abuse. And and there's signs now, in a lot of the arena is talking about verbal abuse, you know, like no yelling at the officials, no yelling at the players, the new models for hockey. You know, having fun and learning and development and yeah, yeah, yada. They try to get away from that, But you're never gonna eliminated. It's part of sports. That's that every every sport at every level, you just try to minimize it as much as you can, you know? So, Gordon, as you started to develop with your hockey and still working in the high school, how was your mind frame in understanding your ability where, you know, What were you thinking that you wanted to dio or did you know, were you able to see that there was gonna be an end to it? Because, as you mentioned, you went on to university as well. What were you thinking around that time in high school?...

So I grade 10. I played, uh, and I'm hockey. I didn't play high school hockey and great 10. So I I broke my collarbone in great nine. So I basically missed that whole year of hockey. How did you break your collarbone? Playing? Playing? Yeah, And then, uh, so I basically missed my whole great nine you're playing. So then I wasn't sure I wanted to go into high school hockey. I was still pretty small and play against guys that we're that much bigger than me. So I didn't even try it for the team I played Bantam hockey. Is that Is that what you felt? You felt you were too small? Yeah, probably about age. It's interesting. I mean, it's interesting knowing watching you have played high school hockey and you did very well. And you were from, in my opinion, extraordinary skater. And like, did you not break any records or you You scored a lot of goals when you eventually did play? Yeah, e don't know. I don't know if I broke any records by led the league a couple of years that I played. E didn't break any records, but I led the league in a couple of years that I did play. That's pretty. It's good. No, it zeroing. Yeah, I'm just Yeah, I mean, well, it's funny that two years before that, you thought you were too small. But a year later, then you're leading the league. Yeah, but I think that you're playing again. Probably gave me the confidence to, you know, they get back on the ice planning, and and but Yeah, you mentioned a skating thing. But that was one thing I always did. Growing up was power skating classes, something my dad always put me in. Was skating, skating and more skating and always said, You can't skate, you can't get the clock So that was a big thing. I wasn't a hockey player. I know you know what? We have some mutual friends that were good hockey players. I was never one. Is that a big thing to be taking power skating? I'm over here in South Korea and they're into short track speed skating, Which I mean, if I see these same kids on roller blades, they're really good. And that helps. Is that a big thing? Power skating? I would, I would say yes. Recommend it, I guess. Yeah, for sure. And even now, at my son's 5.5 and he's This is his first year playing on a team he played like just did skating classes and public skating and hockey skills classes last year, and this year is his first year playing on a team and and at the end of the it's like a big group practice with a couple other teams, so it split up in the stations and you go around the ice and do your station. And at the end of the practice you have 15 or 20 minutes for your own team. That's something I try to do with. My team is due at least 10 minutes of just skating drills before we have fun and, you know, do a little game so the kids finish on a fun note. But if it's huge, I mean you you look at NHL players in the top ones. They're always talking about working on their skating ability in the off season and getting faster, getting more power, getting quicker and have the first quick steps. So I think as young kids now striving to get to that next step power skating and skating abilities of huge thing and it's that you apparent, you know, it's that you apparently, for me, I was always a good skater and that kind of wood would set me apart from somebody else if I was trying to battle with them for either refereeing position or playing position. If I'm a better skater, while I probably have the edge, so it's something out. Pride and and worked on So, you know, if you're a good skater, you're definitely gonna happen. Edge on the guy, you know, is an ankle skater. And that would be me. So as you got into the second year of high school and you're doing well, what is on your mind? You your mind might play for ST Mary's. I might get a little bit earlier, but I was thinking I was thinking because the moose heads were just getting going, right? Who...

...says we're just getting going when we were in a round grade nine or 10? Yeah. Please, that be great. And I might have a chance of, you know, improve and get a little bit bigger. Play for the moose. Let's that be awesome. So that was on my mind. So since you mentioned that, I guess Jamie would be your your born same years. Me? I believe you. 77 or 78? Yeah. So Jamie is a year who played for the Russians. Did you? I mean, knowing him as being a friend like I was like, Wow, this guy has the world by the strings. Did you see him as a sackful guy that Oh, if he could do that. I could do that because he was on the first team. If I Yeah, I think he was the first, uh, him and Jody Shelley and Shawn Sebastian G care and all of them guys. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, for sure. I definitely looked at that because Jamie was always a Jamie was always a good defenseman growing up and I played with in my whole life. But he was never, never like on offensive, flashy defenseman, But he was always a good defenseman. I think those stay at home defenseman don't get the recognition because they're not putting up the points. But he was when he got on the move. Says he was great at his job and he was, you know, he got all the division he deserves. So I think coming from South was like, Well, if he could do it, I cannot Yeah, I think. And then as we progressed, so, unfortunately, Emma, my skill set wasn't at that level. The I don't think because you're out of forward. So you're competing at a different competing at a different position, and I probably just wasn't at that skill set yet or that level you know I was a little bit later bloomer as a player, like I was a good high school hockey player. But then I didn't kind of bloom into a good junior hockey player. You know, I think that the Blazers, which is Junior B, became junior B hockey player, played a little bit of Junior A and Halifax, but yeah, the exports. But I don't think I was at the point where I would have been a good major junior hockey player, so I was. I was fine with that, though. I was fine playing eso Where were you, in your mind? Getting up to 20 when you decided I'm guessing. Yeah, I play recreational. Yeah, I played my last year. You hear a 20 then I was going to ST Mary's University and my coaches and people that I knew through hockey were like, Well, you can probably played for the Huskies. You know, a T least have a good shot of taking their team if you want to play a university hockey because I was already going to university at the time. But before you get into your your decision making, I know you just psychology and criminology. Yeah, Yeah. Why? Why? Why did you What was your reasoning? What was I always had in my mind that I was gonna get into some kind of law enforcement? So I just figured that was a good good robe. Ground? Yeah. Good pathway. So, um, but yeah, As I was going to SMU, I figured if I attempt to play university hockey, gonna do, do make the team and I'm probably gonna have to give up referring because it's a big commitment. And very rarely do players get drafted to the NHL ity university hockey. So I thought, you know, refereeing career of this point. I'm 20 years old now. I'm in refereeing for six years, I referee. However many levels I refereed to that point, I figured, Hey, I kinda have Ah, things were going well, I probably have a better shot at making a living at a referee, and then they'd be playing. So I decided to stop playing and focus on refereeing at that. So you're saying you made that decision then? Obviously, it was kind of brewing up before that. But when did you When did you see a pathway for NHL to be to be a referee as a career, a viable...

...option because you've only been doing it for six years to that point was you said your dad was getting you into some things. Was there someone whisper, bring into you saying this could you're You're good, You know, you could, you know you're making money, 14, But now you're talking about a career. I don't know if anyone was whispering in my ear at age 20 but I got into maybe around 22. I was my first year as a lines within the Quebec Major Junior league. So I was. I had refereed referee Junior B Junior, a hockey referee, university hockey, refering ST Mary's as I was going to ST Mary's. So I was kind of interesting. Usually they don't like referee your own schools and stuff. Um, Then I got into the Quebec league. So that's probably when I had a pretty successful year as a linesman, uh, in the Quebec League. So you wanted to play Quebec, Major Junior, You decided not to for many reasons. But then you find yourself back there. That's correct. Yeah. Yeah, a little bit. Uh, for Quebec Major Junior. Yeah, there was a cut off his 19 then. But I would even like to know this about the NHL. But maybe not the NHL. Just keep it to Quebec. Major. Junior, when you're there, you like, I could I could You know, I see this guy stick handling up through here. This guy stopping this guy, I think I could have done it. Yeah, I think that's everyone's human nature is to say, I think I could have did this and the what ifs, But at that point, I was happy with my decision. You know, I wasn't I have no regrets on those decisions. I probably even today looking back 25 years, I'm thinking, you know, I probably could have did that if I really put my heart and soul into it and stopped everything else. You know, maybe I could do that, But why I look back at that I mean, hindsight being 2020 or I have no regrets on anything that happened. So, uh, yeah, I just was like I never really crossed my mind as I was officiating in the queue was just It was what it waas and say La vee and I was happy with that. So So I know you made a pretty big transition from Canada down to the States. How long were you in the Quebec Major Junior? Just two years. So one years, two years, um, years alignment. And then the next year, it was a referee and I didn't have a very successful years. A referee in the Cube. In what way? Well, my first year is a line's been. I worked, I think, all the way into the third round of the playoffs as the linesman. My very first year. The second year, uh, switched over to a referee and it was a big adjustment. Asses faras the job itself and I guess I didn't. Didn't have the experience, Didn't have the development. Didn't work very many games. I didn't do playoffs. You know, at that point, Gord, how much of your refereeing? 67 years was refereeing linesman. How much experience? Well, typically you would referee typically how it worked in the system. I grew up in Waas every time you went up a level. So every time you went from novice Adam Peewee Ban, a midget junior university, you would have Toby alliance in first and then be a referee. Okay, so and then once I get into the queue, so every time, as many years as a refereed I referee just as many years alignment just as many years because I had to do it as alignment first. So it's a pretty balanced experience balance. And then, after the Q, once I decided to basically become a referee. Um, I only refereed. I never lied again. After my after I finished the lines within the Quebec leg, I never lied again. After that, I was always around so but your second year, as in the queue, it would have been good because you said it...

...wasn't such a successful year. It would have been good to get a couple more years experience because of this was, ah, higher level up and you're pretty new in it. It could have been. It could have been Yeah, or it could have been. But at the in the same breath that first year after I refereed was when I got it on offer to go referee in the Central Hockey League down in the state. So that's that big transition. So they saw you. They liked you, you were willing, and then you you made the movie. I had gone to do some officiating camps in the summer. There were these referee schools that we used to go Thio think that started going to them When I was 19, there was one of Montreal's spelled Iran foreign a referee school. And it's not that you went to these referees. Schools so much toe learn a whole lot. But it was kind of toe. Promote yourself and get your name on a potential prospects list for to get into the Q and to get into the higher level hockey. So I think I was like I said, I think I was 19 was the first time I went. So I was going there toe, you know, make connections. So how I mean this leads me. How competitive is it? Because, you know, unless you're a referee, unless you know someone mostly, we just yell at referees. You know, just generally speaking, we don't care much about the referees you game, and that's a good game. When you don't see the referees that much right? How competitive is it even up? Thio? Yeah, I think it's very competitive cut through? Yeah, I would say could be cut through. Not so much as if it was like a team. Like a real team sport. We still call ourselves a team when we go on the ice, but you're still against your teammates out there to make the next step. You know what I mean? Staying with players were eating against each other to get to the higher levels, but, um, it could be if you run into the wrong person. Yeah, they could talk behind your back or, you know, brown nose like some people dio stuff up. But, you know, I think that's not just part of hockey. That's part of, like, human nature. E think that's part of any business in general. Do that? So you were in the Central Hockey League for was a couple years before you got a minor league deal through the NHL. Correct? At what point are you starting Thio? Maybe taste that possibility? Or were you feeling discouraged at all the times? How how is this struggle? Is your kind of climbing the ladder to a goal that you Yeah, I was very lucky. I never really got discouraged a whole lot early on in my career and my mine early career. Um, I went to the Central League one year down there. It a great year. My second year down there, I worked the final so successful season. I also worked the American League part time just because there was some teams in the South that we work on. Guy was going to also get invited to a process. NHL prospects camp, uh, in the summertime from the Central League. So I go into this NHL prospects camp and and I got hired to a minor league contract. So once I first got hired to a minor league contract from the NHL is probably when you can taste it. You know, I remember the day guys that get hired now they get called into the office and, you know, they're told in person, face to face, Hey, we want to hire you. Welcome to the NHL, blah, blah, blah. But I get home. I was working a summer job with my brother. I think at the time I was either still working or yeah, I was either pouring foundations or or are framing houses or doing something in the summer with my brother as a laborer during the off...

...season, and I got home from work one day on, uh, there was a letter in the mail and I open it up said, you know, cord wire. Candiotti yada from the NHL. We'd like to offer you Marley contract. This would be your first year salary, And then So I just kind of started giggling to myself, and my dad was in the in the living room reading the newspaper. You were You were back in in Sacco. Yeah. Yeah. I was living with my parents in the summertime when I would go home. So then he just said What? I handed him a letter and he started giggling. I said, What do you laughing that he said, Well, I was in the Navy for 30 years, and your first year salary is probably gonna be more than that. I made my any 30 years. I e Hey, must have been tickled, though. Yeah, definitely. Waas. Yeah, for sure. I think we're all pretty pretty tickled. I'm pretty proud. Just because when I actually made it was trying to make the decision to go to the Central League for the first time I didn't know what the Central League Waas was like. I was asking people for all kinds of advice and what to dio. And that was like, Well, you want to make a career to this and have a shot at doing it? Well, what do you got to lose your muscle go like? No sense sticking around here. Go. Go for it. So So I think you know, for him to see that kind of come to fruition and payoff made him probably a little bit like you said, A little bit tickled. So? So for those six years, you kind of mentioned helping your brother where you were.

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