By Barry Stewart
The Hope Standard
After almost 30 years of whistle-blowing, NHL linesman Jay Sharrers has been called to a very elite group: the 28 men who will be officiating men’s hockey at the 2010 Olympics.
“We knew the selection was going to be made in early December,” said his mom Barb, who has lived in Hope since 1968. “We were happy that Jay would get a crack at being selected — but you never know….
“Terry Gregson (the NHL’s director of officiating) called Jay a few days before the announcement and he asked Jay if he’d like to work in the Olympics.
“Jay said, ‘Oh geez… I think I’m busy…. Sure I will!’
“Then Jay phoned me and he was really excited. It was extra special because he was B.C. born and raised and the Olympics are in Vancouver. “
Speaking from Denver on Monday, Jay said, “It is a definite honour. There are 67 full-time officials in the NHL and 13 were chosen for the Olympics, 7 refs and 6 linesmen.
“The selection process was much like it is for the NHL playoffs. It’s based on experience and performance,” explained Sharrers. “Terry Gregson also spoke about the degree of pressure on the officials, due to the fact that the games are on North American soil. They’ve chosen a fairly veteran group. Two of the thirteen are Americans: referees Chris Rooney and Dennis LaRue,” said Sharrers, who was born in New Westminster in 1967 but moved to Hope in 1968 with his parents.
The late Dan Sharrers, namesake of Hope’s aquatic centre, was the local swimmimg coach and recreation director from the late 1960s and into the 1980s.
“Shane Heyer was the other B.C. official chosen,” added Sharrers. “He’s from Summerland and he started in the NHL in 1988, two years before me.”
Once Sharrers realized — at age 15 — that his dream of a hockey career wasn’t going to happen, he looked at other ways of pursuing a career in the game. He chose the striped suit instead of the coveralls.
“I’ve never driven a Zombini!” he said, laughing.
“Lui Talarico and Jack Beaudet were some of the first to give me advice and encouragement to try officiating as another way to stay involved in hockey.”
Sharrers’ rise from minor hockey to the big leagues was rapid.
He started calling games in Hope but moved to the Vancouver area in 1985 to work Junior hockey and gain experience and exposure. He joined the WHL in 1986 and was a linesman until 1990, when the NHL came calling. Sharrers served as an NHL ref from 2000 to 2004 but he’s happy in his role as linesman..
The Olympics will be Sharrers’ second international experience, as he was an official in the 1989 World Juniors in Anchorage Alaska.