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NHL Network to air documentary ‘Behind the Stripes: A Ref’s Life’ Monday

Daniel Carcillo, Andrew Ference

Referees intervene as Philadelphia Flyers left wing Daniel Carcillo (13) and Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference start to fight during the third period of Game 5 of a second-round NHL hockey playoff series in Boston Monday, May 10, 2010. The Flyers won 4-0. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


Professional sports feature plenty of glamorous jobs. In football, there’s quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. While even some of the best hockey players get their hands dirty, there’s no doubt that No. 1 centers are the Joe Montanas of the game. Meanwhile, the John Maddens (Chicago’s Madden, of course, not the boom-tacular football guy) of the world are the puck-based blue collar workers.

Still, those guys do get paid a lot of money too. (Need more proof that sandpaper guys get some green? Just look at the contract Dennis “Pain Sponge” Seidenberg’s signed yesterday.)

Instead, one of the true “thank-less” jobs in sports is that of a referee. They’re like hockey players who can never achieve a “plus” in a game; whenever they make a great call, they’re just doing their job. However, if they make a mistake or call the game to tightly or loosely, my goodness do those boo birds ascend.

NHL Network plans to air a 30-minute documentary that gives a brief glimpse into the life of those tragic zebras. Here’s more from the Network’s press release.

NHL Network will carry the broadcast premiere of Behind the Stripes: A Ref’s Life, the National Hockey League announced today. The 30-minute original documentary, produced by the NHL’s Officiating Department and NHL Network will debut on Monday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Behind the Stripes: A Ref’s Life, documents the personal journey of two NHL referees with a behind the scenes look at their profession. It’s a story about one referee who has realized his dream and the other who is chasing his. Veteran referee Bill McCreary and rookie Ghislain Hebert share their on and off ice experiences, challenges and accomplishments during the 2009-10 season.

Will the documentary stop some hockey fans from howling at the next on-ice “injustice”? Probably not, but maybe it’ll make them hesitate to throw debris on the ice. If nothing else, it will be an interesting opportunity to peek behind the scenes of one of the under-appreciated roles in sports.