By David DiCenzo
Dayton Daily News
TROTWOOD — Most hockey players wish they had Ray Scapinello’s skating ability. The 64-year-old Scapinello, a well-respected linesman who worked for 33 seasons in the National Hockey League before retiring in 2004, could fly down the ice quicker than most of the athletes he was in charge of.
“The wheels are fine,” Scapinello said during a recent visit to Dayton. “Skating’s never been an issue.”
The man known as “Scampy” has been working part time with the Central Hockey League for the past four years, leaving his home in Guelph, Ontario a couple of times a month to watch games. He breaks down how the refs/linesmen are performing and offers suggestions.
“A lot of these officials, like the players in the Central Hockey League, have aspirations of moving to the American (Hockey) League or the (NHL),” said Scapinello. “The officials down here are young and eager to learn. They’re like sponges.”
Scapinello added that it’s actually tougher to get to the NHL as an official than a player. Only 72 are employed. The veteran of 20 Stanley Cup Finals (including the 1986 series in which Serge Boisvert, the father of Gems forward Erik Boisvert, won the Cup with the Montreal Canadiens) said points of emphasis for his officials are positioning, hustle and awareness.
“The whole job is acting professional on and off the ice,” said Scapinello. “Players get emotional and rightly so, it’s an emotional game. But officials have to stay on an even keel. And if you do make a mistake, own up to it because that carries a lot of weight but don’t own up to them too many times or you’ll be looking for other employment.”
Scapinello gets requests to work charity games and he chips in when possible, like a recent alumni game for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“They’re 15 feet offside but you don’t call those,” Scapinello said with a grin.