By Len Bardsley
The Times of Trenton
TRENTON, N.J. – As the Olympic hockey tournament started last week, Gord Broseker could have been in Turin, instead he was happy to be in Trenton.
Broseker, who worked as an official during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, has comfortably settled into his new job as ECHL Director of Officiating.
Broseker has hit all the career highlights possible for an NHL linesman: working the Olympics, five Stanley Cup Finals, over 200 Stanley Cup playoff games, all-star games and the 1996 World Cup.
He now brings sterling credentials to what is often the least appreciated post in the ECHL. The man in charge of assigning, evaluating and often answering for referees in a league which is trying to develop officials in the same manner it develops players.
Broseker, who worked over 1,800 regular season games in the NHL, enjoys the aspect of working with what he hopes can be future NHL linesmen and referees.
“It is good,” said Broseker. “I am enjoying it. I was the supervisor of officials under Bryan Graham last year. Since taking over it has been unique. I wear lots of hats, critiquing officials, recruiting. It is a seven-day a week job.”
Broseker obviously loves hockey and loves to talk hockey, which is perfect for a person that often has to explain things to coaches, players and referees.
“A good supervisor has to be able to communicate,” said Broseker. “If you can’t get your wisdom and wording through to them you are not really productive. I have a gift for the gab. I like to talk hockey and I love working with young guys. I like to teach and at the position I am in now, it is a good fit for me.”
The biggest challenge for Broseker, is assigning referees throughout North America to cover the vast territory of the ECHL. Broseker is working with only about 10 full-time linesmen and a dozen full-time referees. The remainder of the 110 or so officials comes from a large pool or part-time officials, who could be working in other leagues such as the Ontario Hockey League, the American Hockey League or the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“It is really tough at this level,” said Broseker. “When you don’t have a full-time staff you have a lot of part-time staff. A lot of the part-time guys turn back assignments because they have work or family obligations.”
Broseker is hoping to help put together a program in which the AHL and ECHL will act as an affiliate for the referees in the same manner the two leagues provide affiliates for NHL teams when it comes to players.
All officials would be hired by the NHL, but earn call-ups based on performance.
“We are working on a system with the NHL, AHL and ECHL where we will move the officials like players,” said Broseker. “Each team has an NHL affiliate. There will be on official staff. We hope to come out in the summer with a working agreement with the NHL.”
Broseker knows it is nearly impossible to get games called consistently in the same manner by the different personalities and different backgrounds of officials. Broseker is just trying to get a consistent 60 minutes from a referee working a particular game.
“I talk to my cohorts (in the NHL) and we all have the same growing pains,” said Broseker. “As long as you have personalities, you have a lack of consistency. We strive for consistency for 60 minutes, that way we let the team, the players and coaches know how we are going to call games so they know how to play. We are doing it more on a regular basis than when we started. We are hoping to be where we want to be by the Kelly Cup playoffs.”
Broseker does not mind discussing interpretations of a referees calls or non-calls with coaches following games, as long as it is a civil discussion.
“It is nice to go down after the game and have everybody happy, but that does not happen on a regular basis,” said Broseker. “It actually has been very good this year. I respect the coaches and I respect the players and if they want to talk to me I am more than happy to talk. Once they yell at me I leave.”
Titans’ coach Tony MacAulay is a perfect example of someone pleased with Broseker’s combination of experience, communication and demeanor. MacAulay has gone into discussions with Broseker steaming from what he felt was bad calls in games, but left somewhat mollified.
“I enjoy it thoroughly,” said MacAulay of his dealings with Broseker. “Sometimes I go in fired up, but I always learn from him.”