“First-Timers Take Center Ice: NHL All-Star Game Debut a ‘Pretty, Pretty Cool’ Experience for Officials
In a heartwarming postgame moment at the 2024 Honda (U.S.)/Rogers (Canada) NHL All-Star Game, the four officials in stripes gathered at the penalty box not for a review but to share the special day with their families. Referees Frederick L’Ecuyer and Francis Charron, along with linespersons Brandon Gawryletz and Trent Knorr, soaked in the excitement of Team Matthews’ 7-4 victory against Team McDavid.
Doffing their helmets and posing for a photo, the officials expressed gratitude to their loved ones in the stands. The NHL’s director of officiating, Stephen Walkom, later presented each official with a game puck, turning it into an instant cherished souvenir.
“It was just amazing. To see all that talent at the same time, it’s something I’ll never forget,” said L’Ecuyer, who is set to officiate his 1,000th regular-season game on Wednesday.
The officials had a penalty-free day, with not a single call made in the semifinal games and championship final. The atmosphere was far removed from the NHL’s first All-Star Game in 1947, which featured on-ice fisticuffs and a significantly higher crime blotter.
Charron reflected on the unique experience, saying, “You get the chance to do this once, with all the best players. The games today were really good. They put in a great effort, it was a great show, fun to be a part of it.”
Linespersons Knorr and Gawryletz, with a different perspective on the action, shared their delight at being on the ice with the League’s top players. Knorr mentioned, “It was pretty special to look up in the stands and see my family up there, smiling and waving.”
Gawryletz praised the friendly atmosphere among players and the high skill level displayed during the game. As they basked in the moment, L’Ecuyer expressed pride in his journey from a young guy in Quebec to officiating a milestone 1,000th game in Tampa in March.
The 2024 NHL All-Star Game marked a historic and memorable day for these first-time officials, capping it off with smiles, family, and a celebration of their remarkable journeys in the world of hockey officiating.”