Michael Leggo taking life in stride as a seasoned NHL referee

Dave Kearsey
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Michael Leggo removes a hockey stick from the ice during a National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers at the Continental Airlines Arena on December 19, 2006 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

TEMECULA, Calif. —  When a game has given him so much in life, Michael Leggo can’t find it in him to be bitter.

Leggo, son of Corner Brook native Dave Leggo who now lives in Calgary, never got the call to officiate the National Hockey League playfoffs this year.

“I like to say I got voted off the island, so I didn’t make the playoff roster,” Leggo said with a light chuckle.

It marks the first time in four years that he’s found himself on the sidelines for the playoff run. He missed wearing the black and white in the playoffs four years ago when his mother Lynne died.

“Other than that it’s been a long stretch,” he said.

Being selected to participate in the playoff run is something high on the bucket list of all officials so naturally he was disappointed not to find his name on the roster. But, he’s also aware that he’s turning 50 this year and there’s a lot of new blood coming up the ranks with a zest to be the best, just like he was when he started his NHL career in 1999.

“Obvioiusly, it’s disasppointing, but that’s the way it goes in a competitive business,” he said. “I’m towards the end of my career and there’s some young guys coming up at the beginning of their career and management obviously thought it was valuable for them to get some playoff experience and I’m Ok with that. That’s their perogative. It’s disappointing, but it just gives me incentive to train harder and work harder and hopefully have a better year next season.”

All NHL post-season games require a stand-by referee and linesman in the event those assigned to the game run into an injury or illness. Leggo served as a stand-by official for games in San Jose and Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s a different vantage point for the playoffs for him no doubt, but this season actually turned out to be one of Leggo’s most memorable when he was assigned to work the 2014 Olympics in Socchi, Russia.      

It was a long wait, but something he will always cherish.

“It was quite an honour and privilege,” he said. “It was a really great experience. It’s something I will never forget and quite frankly it got me in touch with my Canadian roots again. I met so many Canadians over there and being proud to be from Canada and also being a proud American citizen it was a lot of fun being over there because obviously both those teams and both of those countries had a really successful Olympics.”

With 15-full NHL seasons under his belt, Leggo plans on sticking with it until he can’t keep up with the pace of the game or somebody tells him it’s time to call it a career. He will be sitting down with the director of officiating over the next few weeks to discuss his future in the game.

“I know I’m a lot closer to the end than the beginning, but this is such a great job and a great lifestyle,” he said. “Everything I have I owe to the game, so I’m not bitter about anything.”

He has every intention of working hard over the summer to ensure he’s ready for the grind of another NHL campaign.

 

 

Organizations: National Hockey League

Geographic location: TEMECULA, Calgary, San Jose Los Angeles Socchi Russia Canada

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