TORONTO – Veteran NHL referee Bill McCreary will officiate his final NHL regular season game tomorrow night, when the Washington Capitals host the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center, the National Hockey League announced today.
The site will be appropriate as McCreary began his four-decades-spanning NHL career by working a Capitals home game. McCreary's debut as an NHL referee was on November 3, 1984, when the Caps hosted the New Jersey Devils at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Tomorrow night's game will be the 1,737th of his accomplished career.
"Over the course of an outstanding career, Bill McCreary established a level of excellence matched by very few in the history of our profession," said Terry Gregson, NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating. "The level of esteem with which he has been regarded by his peers, officiating managers and NHL players and coaches is reflected in the number of playoff games he was selected to work – including a remarkable 15 Stanley Cup Finals.:
Regarded as one of the best ever to officiate the game, McCreary holds the League records for most playoff games (297) and most Stanley Cup Final games (44) refereed. He will finish his career second on the NHL's all-time games-refereed list. The native of Guelph, Ontario, is one of only four referees to reach the 1,500 games mark -- a feat McCreary accomplished on Feb. 16, 2008. The quality of his refereeing was recognized by selection to work the post-season 23 times.
McCreary's long list of accomplishments includes refereeing 15 Stanley Cup Final series (13 consecutive from 1994-2007), the 1991 and 1994 Canada Cups, the 1994 NHL All-Star Game (New York), and the Winter Olympics in 1998 (Nagano), 2002 (Salt Lake City) and 2010 (Vancouver) -- drawing the gold medal game assignment each time.
"I am honored to have worked in the NHL for so many years and have been privileged to be assigned to so many important games," McCreary said. "My family always has been very supportive of my career and I'm very fortunate that they will be in attendance and able to share in my final game in Washington. I have worked with an incredible group of people both on and off the ice and I am looking forward to my next adventure."
McCreary will be recognized by his colleagues at a special ceremony held during Officials Training Camp prior to the 2011-12 NHL season.