Hands of a Tree Surgeon

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Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulstewart22

Many years ago, when I was going through my cancer ordeal and aftermath, I started a Christmas tree farm. We have grown some absolutely beautiful trees. It’s been an enjoyable diversion and side interest for me in the years ever since. I enjoy the work.

Many years ago on a Hockey Night in Canada game, it was joked of tough guy defenseman Harold Snepst that he had the delicate “hands of a surgeon.

.. a tree surgeon.” Well, as something of an arborist, I’d take that as a compliment!

I scored two goals in my brief NHL career and three in the WHA. Since there is no surviving video of the goals — at least not to the best of my knowledge — there’s no conclusive way for my critics to disprove that each and every one of them wasn’t a Guy Lafleur-esque work of art (haha).

Actually, the prettiest goal I ever scored was one that never counted on a stat sheet and which only a small crowd of people got to witness firsthand.

I once reffed a benefit game at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena pitting the New York Fire Department against the Boston Fire Department for the benefit of 9/11 families. In between the first and second periods, they held one of those make-a-goal-from-center-ice competitions where the contestant tries to shoot a puck from center ice dot through a small hole in a wooden obstacle blocking the net. The prize for scoring a goal was $10,000.

After watching a contestant’s anemic, feeble shot got eight feet wide, I laughed and made a wisecrack. The guy wasn’t amused.

“If you are so good, let’s see you try it,” he said.

“Why not?” I replied.

Shooting with a right handed stick from the left side, I proceeded to shoot the puck from the center dot. It went straight through the hole. Everyone applauded (who says no one roots for the ref?). It was a fun moment but, no, I wasn’t eligible to collect the reward. Oh, well.

They say I was no goal scorer, huh? Hands of a surgeon, my friends, hands of a surgeon.

************ Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Today, Stewart is an officiating and league discipline consultant for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and serves as director of hockey officiating for the ECAC.

The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials. Stewart also maintains a busy schedule as a public speaker, fund raiser and master-of-ceremonies for a host of private, corporate and public events. As a non-hockey venture, he is the owner of Lest We Forget.

Stewart is currently working with a co-author on an autobiography.This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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