At 6:20 p.m. ET, the 2024 Honda (U.S.)/Rogers (Canada) NHL All-Star Game had ended, and four striped officials had assembled at the penalty box to prepare themselves. This wasn’t for video review or consultation with the NHL Situation Room located next door at their Toronto office.
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At Scotiabank Arena on December 5, this day was all about family. Wives and children proudly cheered their husbands or fathers after completing an important day’s work that brought pride to everyone involved.
Referees Frederick L’Ecuyer, Francis Charron, linespersons Brandon Gawryletz, and Trent Knorr slowly skated to their corner before leaving after Team Matthews won 7-4 against Team McDavid in the All-Star Final.
First, they removed their helmets and posed for photos while players circled behind them. Half an hour later, as the officials packed up, NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom entered and presented each with an official game puck as an unforgettable souvenir.
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“I was simply amazed to witness all this talent at once; it will remain vivid in my memory for life!” noted L’Ecuyer as another milestone was accomplished and another set forth.
L’Ecuyer made his NHL All-Star Game debut, joining his four-person crew for their inaugural contest. On Wednesday, when Chicago hosts Minnesota, L’Ecuyer will officiate his 1,000th regular-season game – an achievement to celebrate!
“Today was cool!” the referee observed after making his NHL refereeing debut here on October 13, 2007. “Credit to all the players for giving us such an entertaining show – it was great fun being part of it all.
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Referees did not issue a single penalty during Sunday afternoon’s three semifinal games and championship final, with Team Hughes forward Frank Vatrano earning himself an unofficial Gordie Howe All-Star Game hat trick courtesy of two goals, an assist, and the day’s only recorded hit on his scoresheet.
There was little chance this three-game afternoon would resemble the inaugural NHL All-Star Game held in Toronto in 1947, during which Toronto Maple Leafs forward Vic Lynn and All-Star defenseman Ken Reardon got physical and were assessed both minors and majors for their energy expenditures.
Records demonstrate that all-time All-Star Game crimes remain at 284, with tripping (58), hooking (56) and holding (52) violations making up most of those penalties.
“It was incredible,” Charron commented, adding, “you only get this chance once, with all of the top players. All their hard work really paid off today – what an impressive show!” It was great fun being part of it!
“Having my family as part of this experience was tremendous for everyone involved – after a lot of travel solo, they really appreciated having some help!” “Bringing this home was fantastic for all concerned!”
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Knorr and Gawryletz had slightly differing perspectives from those of the referees on the lines; nonetheless, they both concurred that this experience would remain unforgettable.
“It was pretty incredible being out on the court with some of the top players from across all Leagues all at the same time,” stated Knorr. “And it made it that much sweeter when looking up into the stands and seeing my family smiling and waving back from there! “
“My weekend with The League was everything and more – an amazing success that far surpassed any expectation!”
And then he smiled: “And it’s the one time of the year where all the players gather without shouting at you!
Gawryletz was inspired by the impressive skill of Scotiabank Arena’s stars on its ice surface.
“It was obviously very special, seeing such high-level talent compete,” he noted. He noted how great his players reacted and the incredible display of skills; an ideal showcase for our game!
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Everything was quite casual, with players laughing among themselves and enjoying themselves immensely, including during shootouts, which provided another avenue to showcase talent and show the world what their skills could do. There was some incredible goaltending during some points of the game, which put some goalies under pressure, but overall was excellent.” Also Read: Connor McDavid wins $1M US prize in NHL All-Star Skills Competition
L’Ecuyer, in particular, took great pleasure in experiencing such an important landmark – in a building where he’d worked his first NHL game and All-Star Game before setting his goal of No. 1,000 four days ahead.
“It has been an 18-year journey,” he acknowledged, noting their plans to host a 1,000-game celebration in Tampa in March with friends and family present. They are particularly proud to achieve it given how hard he had worked to arrive where they are today as an immigrant from Quebec with limited English skills who has made incredible sacrifices just to reach this point in his career.