A physical education class at Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute (VCI) was so lucky that two NHL officials take time out of their schedule to make a virtual visit on Wednesday, December 15.
Veteran NHL referee Wes McCauley and assistant official Steve Barton spoke to the students on a wide range of topics during the roughly hour and a half they spent at VCI. Barton began with a very nice introduction to the charismatic McCauley, who is considered one of the top officials in the NHL by his peers, players and coaches. A native of Vancleck Hill, Barton has always been willing to help his former school in any way he can.
Both gentlemen talked about their trip to the NHL. Each one had a slightly different path, but the focus they talked about was the bumps in the road on their way there. It wasn’t always easy, but perseverance, hard work and preparation were key to their success. Each took turns sharing the stories and lessons they learned along the way. Wes knew he could be a confident NHL referee when he kicked his brother out of a small professional game during his early years wearing the stripes. He also mentioned that this was especially funny because they were living together at the time and went to the ring in the same car.
Barton talked about his willingness to ice and the importance of believing in yourself. Talk about doing the right things, whether it’s refereeing or school, his game readiness is almost identical to every game he works on. He also talked about developing confidence throughout his career. This was something the other students thought about and talked about later in class. Confidence is sometimes associated with leadership and these two traits can be very important in people’s careers.
McCauley and Barton also talked about the mental health component you need when one bad call can be seen over and over again by millions of people and how social media can make things worse. Keep talking about how each person needs to find a positive coping mechanism that works for them. Each of those responsible talked about being in the bubble for more than 70 days last season and how mentally exhausting that can be if you don’t have the right outlet.
At the end of the session, three students, Spencer McKinnon, Mitchell Dorocher, and Jordan Anderson competed in a re-enactment of “the famous Montreal No. 65 for McCauley, No. 47 for Boston, both, 5 minutes each to fight” as McCauley enthusiastically points out his first two steps into the air and says Aloud the word “fight” (YouTube has several clips from this video).
Cooper Smith and Geogia Dawood thanked both presenters for their time, but not before (again, as McCauley was famous) a microphone malfunction.
The students were treated back to listening to two elite judges and most importantly, two great people who were able to share great tips, funny stories and give them some things to think about.