Recently retired NHL linesman Mark Pare was honored Monday with the Ron Foxcroft Award from Sports Officials Canada, a national organization dedicated to promoting excellence in sports officiating.
"I was kind of shocked," Pare, a 32-year veteran, told NHL.com about his initial reaction. "I've been to a couple of their award banquets -- previously Terry Gregson, the current Director of Officiating, then Don Koharski, who recently retired, won the award. The last thing on my mind was I would win it. It's kind of a shock, and I'm humbled by the honor."
Pare, from Windsor, Ontario, began his officiating career working minor hockey around the city of Windsor and then Junior hockey and Major Junior hockey for the Ontario Hockey Association. In 1976 he was hired by the International Hockey League where he worked for three years. In 1979 he completed his apprenticeship and was hired by Scotty Morrison of the NHL that summer.
He joined the National Hockey League Officials Association in September of 1979, working his first regular season game Oct. 1, 1979 between Washington and Buffalo with referees Ron Wicks and Ray Scapinello. Since then he has worked over 2,070 games, including 30 playoff games in a career that ranks him third all-time in NHL games by a linesman. Prior to his retirement this past April, Mark had worked more games than any active linesman in the league. He was selected in 1997 to officiate in the preseason games in Austria and again in Helsinki and Stockholm in 2003. He worked his final game April 11 between Detroit and Chicago.
"I think it'll be harder in September," Pare said of retiring from the game. "I'll do more reflecting then because I'll have more spare time on my hands when I'm not going back to training camp. I know I'll miss the people both on and off the ice who I've been fortunate to work with and meet in various rinks and other places around north America.
"Every guy I've talked to who's left officiating has said the same thing: You don't miss the travel, you miss the people you work with and the locker room. With hockey players, it's the same for them, they miss guys in room. I know I'll miss them for sure."
"It's certainly nice to be recognized just for something good. Most officials are only thought of when we're making mistakes. This is a pleasant surprise, a nice candle to light the retirement cake with." -- Mark Pare
The award is in honor of Ron Foxcroft, Founder and Chairman of Fox 40 International, for his personal achievement as a basketball referee at the international level, the NCAA level and as an NBA league observer. The award also honors Ron’s considerable ongoing support of officiating development in Canada and to Sports Officials Canada.
The award will be presented to Pare on Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Sports Officials Canada Annual Awards Dinner, being held in conjunction with their annual conference at the Delta Meadowvale Resort and Conference Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
"It's certainly nice to be recognized just for something good," Pare said. "Most officials are only thought of when we're making mistakes. This is a pleasant surprise, a nice candle to light the retirement cake with."