Alberta’s Kyle Rehman hits 1,000 game plateau in the NHL

EDMONTON – Kyle Rehman wasn’t sure if he would officiate one National Hockey League game, let alone a thousand.

But that’s exactly what the Red Deer native did when he accomplished the feat on March 28 during a contest between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Place. Rehman was recognized by the league, the Oilers, and Kings, receiving a Tiffany crystal from the league, jerseys from both teams as well as a pair of Adirondack chairs that had his name, the NHL logo and ‘1,000 games’ on it.

“I would have never thought to do one (game), let alone a thousand, so it’s a very special milestone for me,” Rehman said. “It comes with a lot of sacrifice, not only for myself, but for my family. It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve got a long way to go.”

Rehman said the best part of the whole evening was having his family at his side and allowing them to get some recognition for everything they’ve done for him.

“I got the chance to have my two boys on the ice with me before the game, which is something I’ll never forget. Then to have my family on the ice with me during the ceremony, it was good to get them some recognition because they’ve sacrificed so much,” Rehman said. “My wife is a rockstar. She’s pretty much a driver for the kids, taking them to all their activities, so for them to get some of that recognition was cool. Then to have my brother and my parents there as well was awesome as well. They jumped on board when I was younger and really supported, pushed, and encouraged me to go as far as I can.”

The 45-year-old referee got his start in 2000 in Red Deer where he got the opportunity to officiate U18 AAA and Senior AAA games. He moved onto the Western Hockey League shortly after and got the call to the NHL in 2007. His first game was January 22, 2008, featuring the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Over the course of his career, Rehman has gotten the chance to officiate some of the biggest events the NHL had to offer - Stanley Cup playoff games, NHL Global Series in Sweden, and the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars.

“The whole atmosphere, being outdoors with 85,000 fans, the NHL does a really good job of putting on those types of events,” said Rehman. “Both fanbases were awesome, seeing the Nashville fans travel to Dallas and seeing how much support the city gave to the Stars … it was a great game and I’m proud to say I was part of it.”

Numerous sports, including hockey, look to recruit new officials each year, but there are challenges, especially when it comes to abusive behaviour from coaches, players, and fans. Rehman asks that spectators ease off the young officials.

“We’re losing officials every year. I have two boys that play hockey and I want them to be able to play games and leagues need referees. I think it’s important for people to be at the rink and to appreciate these games and volunteers,” Rehman said. “The younger kids are just learning … guys at the NHL level, we’re the top officials in the world and we sometimes make mistakes, just like the coaches and players because we’re human. Let the emotion of the game be on the ice, because if we continue to trend in the direction we’re going in, we aren’t going to have any officials left.”

For younger people hesitant to enter the game in the officiating capacity, Rehman’s advice is to go out there and do your best and enjoy the process of improving.

“Go out there and work hard every game. As long as you can come off the ice, look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I left it all out there, I worked hard and I hustled’, it’s a great feeling to know you went out there and did your best,” said Rehman. “You don’t necessarily need to make the NHL either, there are a lot of great opportunities with Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta. I hope our younger generation of officials stick with it and continue to support one another.”

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