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Longtime linesman Cvik set to work final game

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames



CALGARY, AB
-- Mike Cvik can do without overtime.

The veteran linesman of 1,867 games will see 1,868, between the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, as his last.

And, with a hearty laugh, he’s pulling for a resolution in regulation.

“Now we’ll probably go about 20 deep into a shootout,” said Cvik, whose NHL career started on Oct. 8, 1987 with a game between the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks.

Cvik’s run, 29 years patrolling the 200 by 85, ends Tuesday in Calgary -- his hometown and the same city that the towering official first dropped a puck when his brother’s team needed someone to regularly patrol its games.

Full circle.

“I think this is probably what kept me awake all night,” started the 6-foot-9 Cvik, who moments before admitted sleep was hard to come by on the eve of his final skate.

“I was kind of reflecting back on my career, my games, the people I’ve worked with, the people I’ve met all across North America. I think come the last commercial, when I’m standing there, it might hit me that this is the last time I’m going to be standing between the benches on an NHL ice surface and I have four minutes left in my career.

“When I walk off the ice it will be the last time I walk off as an NHL official.”

Including his mother, sister and three of four daughters, a couple dozen other special guests will be in attendance to celebrate Cvik’s career, impressive by every metric.

The 53-year-old ranks second among active linesman in regular season games worked behind Brad Lazarowich (1,949). Unofficially, he ranks eighth all time among NHL linesmen in games, trailing Gerard Gauthier (2,345), Randy Mitton (2,109), Mark Pare (2,105), Dan Schachte (2,001), Leon Stickle (1,987), Kevin Collins (1,964), and Lazarowich, according to ScoutingTheRefs.com.

Prior to arriving in the NHL, Cvik worked at the Memorial Cup.

He was on the ice when Wayne Gretzky scored goal No. 802 in 1994.

He worked the gold medal game between Canada and the United States at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

He officiated the 2011 Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames.

All-Star Games. Stanley Cup Playoffs. The list goes on.

A regular season game, on Jan. 5, 2016, No. 595 on the 2015-16 schedule, will flood those memories back.

And more.

“When you start reflecting on your career… between my hand injury, my knee injuries, getting stuffed into airplanes, stuffed into taxis and all that kind of stuff I’m well past missing all of that,” Cvik said. “What I’m going to miss is the guys at lunch, the guys in the dressing room before the game, interactions with the players on the ice, interactions with our guys -- the camaraderie we have after a game -- that’s the stuff I’m going to miss. I kind of group us in as a band of brothers.

“We have such a bond of 66 guys that are all out for the same end game -- to make the game fair and safe. Yet, we’re in competition with each other because we want to get noticed enough and our body of work be good enough that we get selected for the playoffs and then there’s another round of competition because now you want to get from the first round to the Stanley Cup Finals. So we’re all competing against each other.

“But when we’re in the room or on the ice, we’re four officials. We’re not two referees and two linesmen, we’re four officials going out to win a game.”

For one final day, one 60-minute set, Cvik will work as the most celebrated group of that band.

Tomorrow will bring another day.

From official to citizen.

“I think tomorrow it will probably hit me the most,” Cvik said. “Tonight might be a little emotional with the guys I’m working with. I’m getting texts and emails from the guys I’m working with now, guys that I first worked with in 1987. It’s kind of overwhelming and humbling at the same time.

“When I get up tomorrow, I won’t have to make hotel reservations, I don’t have to call a Toronto travel agent and book flights, I don’t have to race downstairs and do my laundry because I’m on a flight at six o’clock and I got to make sure everything is packed, I got to get to the bank and get some US money because I’m travelling to the US.

“From the helter-skelter life I’ve had for 29 years, it will all come to a stop and then start a regular normal nine-to-five existence -- which is something I know nothing about.

“I’m looking forward to that because now I can take in some of my daughter’s school events and I’ll be ballet-dad on Thursday nights and tutoring-dad on Tuesday nights and ballet-dad on Saturday afternoons and all that kind of fun stuff. That will be nice because I miss a bunch of stuff in school because of the travel and all of that.

“My daughter came home from school one day and said ‘papa, (we’re) looking for a basketball coach, when you’re done in January do you think you can coach the basketball team?’. I was like ‘thanks Josephine, but I really don’t know much about basketball.’

“She said ‘well you can learn on the internet.’”

Cvik might very well look into it.

But be warned: There’s overtime in basketball, too.

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