Port Alberni’s Rob Shick is headed to Russia for a little hockey talk.
Shick, in his 35th year with the National Hockey League now as the senior officiating manager, will participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) fourth World Hockey Forum, Dec. 12–14 in Moscow. He will be the NHL’s representative during a plenary session on the opening day of the forum, examining the evolution of rules in hockey and the importance of a unified rule book.
“It’s a huge honour to represent the NHL in this capacity,” Shick said from his home in Florida, where he stopped briefly in between trips to Chicago and Philadelphia.
Other hockey greats such as Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak and Igor Larionov, Master of Sports of the USSR, will also be making presentations at the World Hockey Forum. Sessions include the evolution of women’s hockey, sledge hockey on a worldwide scale and how innovations in digital and online television technology help engage audiences and attract businesses to sport.
The IIHF is looking at switching their rule book to adopt NHL rules. The IIHF has had a different set of rules for hockey in Europe as well as at Olympic Games and junior and senior world championships, Shick said.
“They feel our rules have a lot of ‘proof of concept’. We’ve adjusted our rules in the last eight to 10 years to let the talented players play; so skills and speed take over. It’s been since 2005 that we’ve started calling hooking and holding (for example).”
Because so many North American hockey players are participating in IIHF-sanctioned games, the NHL and IIHF have discussed bringing international hockey under the NHL rule book, he explained. “They like what they see.”
His presence at the plenary session “is about telling the IIHF that we support them to start using our rule book.”
Shick said the goal will be to make the move to the new rules “in the near future.” If all is approved he expects to be back in Europe to oversee the switch, likely in the summer of 2020.
More than 870 delegates and experts from around the world participated in the forum last year.
Shick was last in Russia in 2014 for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. This will be his first time visiting Moscow, he said. Even though he only has a three-day Russian visa, he hopes to be able to see the Kremlin.
“It’s a short trip but I’m looking forward to seeing old friends I saw in 2014,” he said.
Shick grew up in Port Alberni and comes back annually for the Alberni Golf Club’ Charity Golf Classic, which he started more than 25 years ago. Shick refereed more than 1,500 hockey games in his career, and left the ice in March 2009. He still attends more than 90 games a year all over North America.
“I watch for trends, I monitor the officiating to make sure everything is good,” he said. He also travels to Toronto one week a month working in the “situation room”, or replay booth. The NHL has “made video replay our friend,” he explained, viewing it as a tool “to get calls right in the impact area of our game.”