If you’re a hockey fan (which we assume you are, since you’re reading this article), then you know a lot about the players, the coaches, and even the general managers of various teams. But what about the referees?
Clothed in black and white stripes, these rule enforcers on ice skates have to keep up with some of the world’s top athletes. They must follow the puck as it zooms around the rink and constantly keep an eye on what the players are doing.
If you want to know more about what an NHL referee job pays, keep reading; we’re going to break down their salaries, which are based on an individual’s experience and the number of games officiated.
How much do NHL refs make per game?
During an NHL game, you’re more focused on how your favorite team performs than what the refs are up to. The only time you notice them is when you disagree with a call they’ve made.
But think about all that goes into a job like being an NHL referee. Officiating games can become pretty heated, especially when players get frustrated. Fights often erupt when tensions arise, and refs are the ones that break them up. Just like the players, referees travel across the nation to attend different games.
Hockey players take a rest each time the lines change, but referees stay on the ice for the entire game. Not only do they need to follow the game closely, but they must also keep their bodies in top shape. This involves a strict routine of regular exercise, healthy eating, and plenty of rest.
So, how much do NHL referees get paid? The answer may surprise you. According to the most recent information, NHL referees make $1,000-$4,000 per game. They usually make a bonus during bigger matches, like games in the Stanley Cup playoffs or The World Cup of Hockey. That works out to around $115,000-$350,000 annually. Referee salaries will vary depending on how long they’ve been working and how many games they officiate.
NHL referees are some of the highest-paid refs in all major sports leagues. Considering all the flak that refs get from the players and fans, and the physical toll that officiating takes on their bodies, it’s a good thing that they’re well-paid for what they do. If they weren’t, it might be hard for the NHL to find a referee that stayed on longer than one season!
How many games a year do NHL referees work?
In a regular NHL season, there are 82 games (however, there are only 56 this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Most full-time referees officiate 73 games each season—for any extra games, they’re paid an additional amount. When you consider travel time, that’s quite a lot of work!
You can expect to see 2 referees on the ice per game.
Do NHL referees work full-time?
Yes, NHL referees are employed full-time. In any given season, hockey sports leagues employ 34 full-time NHL referees. These referees work hard all season long to make sure each game is played fairly and according to the rulebook.
You won’t need a college diploma to land a full-time referee job in the NHL. What they’re looking for is years of experience officiating junior and minor league hockey. But since only 34 jobs are available, not everyone makes the cut.
Each NHL team has a minimum of 20 players, and there are 31 teams in the league. This means that there’s a total of ~620 players in the NHL. One might argue that it’s easier to get a job as a player than a referee!
Referees must remain in peak physical condition to skate for an entire hockey game (about 2 hours per game). They also need to travel for the entire hockey season, which can be strenuous for those with families.
A full-time position in the NHL is the dream of any referee. But getting there is a long road. They’ve got to master the art of following the puck at lightning speed, watching the behavior of other players, and making the right call in tough situations. Not every referee gets a job working for the NHL—with only 34 full-time positions available, the competition is stiff.
How much do Level 1 hockey referees make?
Before one can become an NHL referee, they need to get their feet wet in the world of officiating. Everyone starts as level referees.
Just like most professions, amateurs and veterans get paid different amounts. An NHL referee, like Kerry Fraser, who officiated over 2,000 games, got paid a lot more than a first-year referee. NHL officials are distinguished based on a level system, which tells you how many years of experience they have. The salary range is reflective of how long an NHL referee has worked.
A level 1 referee requires a minimum of 8 hours of instruction. They get paid around $30 per game (which works out to $15 an hour). You’ve got to start small and work your way up to the big leagues.
Despite all the hard work that NHL referees do, they miss out on all the glory. If they make a single mistake, they hear about it from everyone: players, coaches, and even fans. But if they do their job perfectly, no one says anything—not even to give them a pat on a back.
The next time you’re critical of a call made by a referee, keep in mind all the challenges they face in their line of work. They aren’t trying to make your favorite team lose—they’re only doing their job. From breaking up fights to spending weeks on the road away from their families, NHL referees sacrifice a lot for their love of their game (and that annual salary doesn’t hurt, either).For the latest NHL picks and predictions, check out our NHL All Access Package; it will give you all the premium picks you need. Start taking your sports betting seriously by siding with the experts at Kyle Covers.