NHL to continue developing officials in AHL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today announced a new four-year officiating development agreement with the National Hockey League which will continue to see the AHL serve as the top development league for the NHL’s referees through 2018-19.

Under the terms of the agreement, the NHL and AHL officiating departments will continue to work together in all aspects of recruitment, training and development of on-ice officials. NHL-contracted referees will continue to be assigned to officiate approximately one-half of American Hockey League games each season, with the balance of AHL games to be worked by AHL-contracted referees who have been identified as top officiating prospects.

The new agreement also continues the leagues’ implementation of the two-referee system in the American Hockey League, with the ultimate goal being to have every AHL game worked by two referees by 2019. It is anticipated that 60 percent of AHL regular-season games and all Calder Cup Playoff games will be officiated using the two-referee system during the current 2015-16 season.

“Our long-term relationship with the National Hockey League officiating department has provided our players and fans with the best officiating outside the NHL, and has established an outstanding career path for young officials,” said AHL President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews. “This new agreement will continue to further both of those objectives.”

“There is no doubt that our young officials benefit greatly from time spent officiating in the American Hockey League,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “Because AHL games feature so many future NHL players and are played at a pace and skill level that most closely replicates conditions in the National Hockey League, they serve as a perfect training ground for officials who later graduate to service in the NHL. Our arrangements and cooperative relationship with the AHL over the years has been critical to our ability to develop the best hockey officials in the world.”

The American Hockey League has served as the top development league for NHL on-ice officials since its earliest days, with every current National Hockey League referee having worked in the AHL. In operation since 1936 and celebrating its 80th anniversary this season, the AHL is also the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame came through the AHL.