Mick McGeough was a true friend of the game

Mick McGeough was \a true friend of the game\
Mick McGeough, long-time hockey referee, dies at 62
Retired NHL referee Michael “Mick” McGeough suffered a stroke last Sunday and, after his condition worsened, will be removed from life support.

McGeough, 62, was hospitalized after showing the early signs of a stroke. He later consulted with a neurosurgeon in Saskatoon to explore treatment options for removing the remaining clots at the back of his brain. The damage proved to be irreversible.

“I’m screaming and yelling from the bench, and Mick McGeough skates over and says to (head coach George Kingston) ‘tell him to shut up,” Remenda recalled. “As Mick skates away, I’m yelling at him ‘you bleeping tell me to shut up,’ so he stops and skates back over to the bench, gets right in front of me and says ‘SHUT UP.”

He has returned to Regina to be with his family. On Friday, it was announced all life sustaining measures will be stopped.

The Regina-born retired official was hospitalized after showing early signs of a stroke on Sunday. He was then flown to Saskatoon, where a neurosurgeon determined the blood clots in McGeough’s brain couldn’t be removed.

McGeough began his NHL officiating career in 1987. He was among the last NHL officials to officiate NHL games without wearing a helmet. In total, he officiated 1,083 regular season games, 63 playoff games, and the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.

“When the game was over, it was over,” Tim said. “He could sit down and have a coffee or a beer with any of the players at any given time … it was nice to see the respect both ways.”

Former NHL referee Mick McGeough, from Regina, died Friday night after suffering a stroke last weekend.

His son, Luke, tweeted Friday that “we peacefully said goodbye to Mick McGeough” on Friday at 11:23 p.m.

“The National Hockey League lost a true friend of the game last night with the passing of Mick McGeough,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a media release that was issued Saturday.

Bettman added: “Mick’s passion for the game shone through on a nightly basis. He earned and maintained respect from players, coaches, general managers and his peers throughout his career with a unique style that combined humility and humour with decisiveness and fairness. The NHL family extends its deepest sympathies to his wife Angie and his five children — Jared, Luke, Kara, Karlie and Isaac.”

Michael “Mick” McGeough (back centre) refereed over 1,000 NHL games in the span of 21 years and was inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013. (GoFundMe)

Stephen Walkom, the NHL’s senior vice-president and director of officiating, remembered McGeough as “the consummate communicator” and “a great teacher who took pride in inspiring and developing officials through his love for the game.”

Players, coaches, fellow officials and sports media have been reaching out to McGeough’s family to offer their best wishes and support since the stroke.

McGeough debuted as a WHL official in 1981, six years before working his first of 1,083 NHL regular-season games.

Remenda said he’ll always remember a game when he was upset Ron Hextall wasn’t called for a high stick against a Sharks player by McGeough.

“There will never be another Mick McGeough,” WHL senior director of officiating Kevin Muench said. “He was one of a kind, on the ice and off the ice.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the expenses related to McGeough’s emergency transportation between Regina and Saskatoon.

“Mick was an entertainer. He was like the Eddie Shack of officials. He was energized and flamboyant on the ice, and a great story-teller off the ice.

“Wherever you saw Mick, he was the centre of attention. Whether it was lunch at training camp or out for a beer after playing ball or golf, everybody wanted to sit at Mick’s table. You were guaranteed to hear some great stories.

“And he never told a story the same way twice. It got better and more embellished every time he told it! That was Mick.”

Tim McGeough told 650 CKOM his brother was back in Regina, surrounded by family, and in a medically-induced coma.

McGeough retired in 2008 after 20 NHL seasons, but remained involved with the league as an officiating manager. His resume also included 63 post-season games, including assignments during the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

When asked about his career highlight as he prepared to hang up his whistle, McGeough said: “A lot of people have asked me that question and I’ll tell you how I answered them: My career highlight was being able to work in the National Hockey League.

“The league has treated me phenomenally. I can’t even explain how well they’ve treated me. It has been an absolute pleasure to work for them.”

He refereed 1,083 regular season games and 63 playoff games — including the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.

McGeough remained involved with the NHL as a supervisor of officials. He served the league in that capacity in a decade.

“My last memory of Mick will be from the Memorial Cup this past May in Regina,” Muench said. “He invited a bunch of us old friends to his hotel room after a game one night. We had a drink and ordered some pizza, and sat around and listened to Mick tell stories until tears were running down our cheeks with laughter. That is how it always was with Mick.

“His family, his friends, the hockey world, and the officiating world, we will all miss the enthusiasm he brought to life and to our great game of hockey.”

McGeough was hospitalized last weekend in Regina after showing early signs of a stroke. As his condition worsened, he was transported to Saskatoon for a consultation with a neurosurgeon to explore options for removing clots at the back of his brain.

“He went in fighting, just like the Mick we all know and love,” read a statement issued by McGeough’s family on Friday.

The damage was determined to be irreversible and McGeough was brought back to Regina to be with his family and to “go on his terms.” The family announced Friday that he had been removed from life support.

“He represented all that was good in the game he loved,” Sportsnet’s John Shannon tweeted Saturday.

“Mick was one of the true characters of the game and we will miss him immeasurably,” the statement read.

“Throughout his 21-year on-ice career and subsequent management role, Mick was always known for his wit, humour and ability to tell a great story.

“He reminded us constantly that hockey, even at the highest level, is meant to be fun and he leaves us with a hole that can never be filled. Our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Angie, and their beautiful family.