The National Hockey League announced Thursday a five-year officiating development agreement with the American Hockey League which will continue to see the AHL serve as the top development league for the NHL's referees through 2014-15.
Under the terms of the agreement, the NHL and AHL officiating departments will continue to work together in all aspects of recruitment, training and development of on-ice officials. NHL-contracted referees will continue to be assigned to officiate approximately one-third of American Hockey League games each season, with the balance of AHL games to be worked by AHL-contracted referees who have been identified as top officiating prospects.
The new agreement also establishes a plan to introduce the two-referee system to the American Hockey League on a phased-in basis beginning in the 2010-11 season. It is anticipated that 25 percent of AHL regular-season games and all Calder Cup Playoff games will be officiated using the two-referee system during the coming year.
The NHL first used the two-referee system in the 1998-99 season (50 games for each team). Since 2000-01, all NHL games have featured the two-referee system. Over the past few years, the Canadian Hockey League (OHL, WHL, QMJHL), NCAA, and elite leagues in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland have all moved to a two-referee system for some or all of their games.
"The implementation of the two-man referee system in the American Hockey League is an important step in ensuring that we continue to identify and train the best officials," said Terry Gregson, NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating. "The two-man system has significantly enhanced the NHL game and we look forward to continuing to work with the AHL in developing quality young officials."
"Our long-term relationship with the National Hockey League officiating department has provided our players and fans with the best officiating outside the NHL, and has established an outstanding career path for young officials," said AHL president and chief executive officer David Andrews. "This new agreement will further both of those objectives by phasing in the two-referee system in the AHL."
The American Hockey League has served as the top development league for NHL on-ice officials since its earliest days, with every current National Hockey League referee having worked in the AHL. In operation since 1936 and celebrating its 75th anniversary this season, the AHL is also the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today's NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame came through the AHL.
For more info, check out this NHL.com story
about the benefits of the two-referee system in the AHL as discussed at the NHL General Managers at their March, 2010 meeting.