NEW YORK --
Eight seasons and 439 games later, linesman Ryan Galloway has finally worked in all 30 NHL arenas. He knocked the last arena off his list Wednesday night, working at Madison Square Garden when the New York Rangers
took on the Nashville Predators
Galloway, who wears No. 82, dropped the puck 30 times, made seven offsides calls, whistled two icings, intervened on six scuffles, escorted four Rangers and two Predators to the penalty box and trudged through a snowstorm. But he's finally done.
"It was really cool," Galloway said with a smile after Nashville’s 2-1 win. "There's always a buzz in this building. I think this was probably below what a normal crowd would have been with the snow, but there was always a buzz in here, the building is always humming. This is definitely one with the atmosphere."
It's been a long time since his first NHL game at the United Center in Oct. 2002. Somehow, Galloway managed to work in every NHL arena -- including the old Coyotes' and Devils' rinks -- but never made it to the Garden. But not only has Galloway worked in every other NHL city, he has even worked in all 29 cities at least two times, if not more.
"Just the way the assignments have worked," he explained. "There are guys who've been around longer than I have that still have buildings to get to."
But even other officials are surprised to hear that the Winnipeg-native had never blown his whistle in New York.
"Yeah, when I've talked to the guys out from out East and they're like, 'You haven't been to MSG yet?' But then there's guys from the East that haven't been out to Calgary," he said.
In his second season, Galloway spent 10 days in the New York area and worked on Long Island and in New Jersey, but not at MSG. He came as close he could get without lacing up the skates last season in April, when he served as a backup linesman for Game 6 when the Washington Capitals
faced the Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It was neat at the time to see the atmosphere and the way the fans are in the building," said Galloway, who watched the game from the Zamboni entrance. "It is a very passionate place. They love their team and they love the game."
Everyone who’s been on a job for eight years can't help to develop some favorite places, and NHL officials are no different. While Galloway has developed a liking to the older buildings, such as Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, there are two particular arenas which stand out in his mind -- Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center and San Jose's HP Pavilion.
"Minnesota's is a great hockey building … the fans are awesome," he said. "The fans know the game. It's a hockey town and they treat us (the officials) well there."
Galloway's choice of San Jose as one of his favorite cities to work in would seem be a bit of a surprise to most fans, but it's no secret the fans in San Jose adore their Sharks.
"San Jose is a great building," Galloway said. "Fans are loud in there and they live the game the day before and the day of. You see people walking around downtown with their jerseys on and T-shirts. They just bring a different level to the game than in some of the other buildings."
Unfortunately on Wednesday, a major snowstorm hit the New York area and forced thousands to stay away from the Garden. Galloway didn't have the usual Madison Square Garden experience, but was impressed nonetheless.
"You know what … right after the National Anthem, I'm like, 'There's nobody here and it's getting loud already.' So I can only imagine."
So what does a linesman do now that he's worked in every NHL arena, besides coming back to MSG very soon so he can say he's worked in every arena at least twice? Like any one of the 30 NHL teams, he aims for higher.
"I'm just trying to progress up the ranks and get on the ice in the playoffs" he said. "It's like anybody … once you get on the ice for the playoffs, you want to go onto the next round and when you get into the next round, you want to go to the next round. It's a progression to the end. I just want to keep my career going forward."