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Anyone who knows me even casually knows that I’m someone who doesn’t back down from a fight, especially when someone tries to bully me or people close to me. It goes against my nature.

There is a time honored expression, “You can’t fight city hall.” In other words, politics creeps into all things including hockey officiating and you can’t do anything about it when the powers-that-be try to use their power and influence to squash a perceived threat.

The hell I can’t. I am dropping my gloves, City Hall, and am read to do battle. Let’s start with my observations.

I love it when I find out that fellow officials want to attend clinics — no matter who runs the sessions — because genuinely they want to learn new things. That makes me feel good about the game and my profession.

I hate it when I learn that other people are threatened with some sanction or another by their bosses they attend the same clinic. I hate it when I hear that if an official takes an assignment from this League and not all games from that league, they will get blackballed. I hate it when people cower and cave in to these edits, and stay home out of cowardice rather than standing up and creating strength in numbers.

Why does this happen? Usually, it’s some overfed, overweight, overly self-absorbed, and under-confident person who is fearful of being undermined. Such folks don’t care one bit about the good of the game — or the good of the people they manage. They care only about maintaining their own sense of control and will abuse their powers as casually as they change their socks.

I cannot abide such people. I also hate the whole concept that ensures they have a job. I might like some of the people who are in charge. However, I am no fan of bureaucracies that put human impediments to progress in charge of their own little fiefdoms and they get to stay in their jobs despite their blindly obvious incompetence.

The biggest laugh comes when I hear these same folks say, “You never developed any officials, Stewart.”

Listen, I don’t need to stand on Broadway and thump my chest. Officiating is getting better from where I sit and I don’t often sit while daylight is burning or my computer is on. We have success because we have great supervisors who go to games and offer coaching and support. We have officials who have passion fueling their efforts…we have success because we hold people accountable.. We have success because our officials are in shape. Lastly, we have the best in the business because…we have pride in our group.

That is also why we will continue to be the officials that others will wonder “How did they get those games?”

For you politicians and those that cower from their edicts, keep chattering and gossiping and being stupid. City Hall and you politicos, get ready, because this 61-year-old still loves a good fight.

************ 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 and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.