Mount Pearl Referee gets call from the AHL

     The Mount Pearl Referees Association is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with another milestone: the induction of Darryl Butt into the ranks of professional hockey as a new official this season in the American Hockey League.
     It's the second time in just a few years that an alumnus of the MPRA has been recruited to officiate in the league. Justin Day officiated at games at Mile One Centre for three seasons before recently moving to Labrador West where he is a member of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
     MPRA president Gary Martin congratulated Butt on his accomplishment and thanked Day for all his efforts with the association over the years. "MPRA prides itself on official development, with both Darryl and Justin being two examples of the strength of the program," said Martin.
     Butt is looking forward to his first game in the AHL on Tuesday, October 20 when the St. John's IceCaps host the Binghampton Senators. Butt, now 34, has been refereeing and skating the lines since he was 14, and still gets nervous before most games.
     But he gets great satisfaction from officiating. His ice work was noticed by a local AHL supervisor last spring and Butt was invited to join the small cadre of Newfoundland officials who do the lines at AHL games. Butt acknowledged it was the result of a lot of work and training over the years and the the opportunities to learn provided by the Mount Pearl Referees Association.
     "I played hockey all the way up through with Mount Pearl Minor Hockey," Butt said, explaining where his interest in officiating originated. Once he became an official at 14, he continued playing hockey up to junior. After junior, he stepped up his officiating involvement significantly. He liked the way it opened up another aspect of the game for him.
     "When you're playing, you have one mindset," he said, " and that's to get the puck and score. But when you are an official you've got to watch 12 players on the ice. You've got to have your head on a swivel the whole time... Your focus is to control the game and call the penalties. The safety of the players comes first."
     Butt allowed you need a thick skin sometimes to be an official. And you always have to be open to learning new things."I'm still learning new stuff," he said.
     Much like hockey, officials in MPSA look up to older officials for guidance and instruction. "One of my mentors when I first started was Kevin Penney," Butt said. "He started (officiating) in the AHL in 1991. I had just come on board and was only young, but he used to help me out. Now I do the same for Mount Pearl Minor. I help to develop the younger kids and do on ice sessions with them."
     Butt also helps with the clinics for score keepers and time keepers. In the "off season," he has officiated at national ball hockey championships.
     Butt said Mount Pearl has one of the strongest referees' associations in the province. "It's acknowledged that we have good, steady, strong quality officials," he said. "We've got about 700 kids in Mount Pearl Minor Hockey and right now between 40 and 45 officials... We actually have a waiting list of 14 people trying to get in. We can't take everybody every year, but we always try to take in one or two new ones and develop them... But we've always met our capacity. We're never short on numbers."
     Butt doesn't know how many games he will officiate in the AHL this season. He will also be busy calling games in local senior, junior, high school and minor hockey leagues. He usually logs between 60 and 80 games a season.
     His goal as a rookie linesman in the AHL is the same one he brings to every game. "I want to do my best," said Butt. "You still want to push and be the best official that you can be.”

Posted on October 14, 2015 .