After just one season of experience, Drayton native Scott Cherrey has been awarded a full-time position as a National Hockey League linesman.
Cherrey, 32, was originally hired last year, when he split time between the NHL and the American Hockey League under what is know as a 40-40 contract (about 40 games in each league).
But now Cherrey, who lives in Kitchener with his wife Christa and their two children, will officiate an entire season’s worth of NHL games starting this fall.
“It was pretty exciting to get that call and meet with the boss,” Cherrey said in an interview just days after receiving the good News on July 14. He added his entire family is “very happy and supportive,” just as they were throughout his playing career.
Cherrey was drafted 41st overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1994 entry draft after averaging 48 points in his first three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. But he never signed an NHL deal, and later played for the University of New Brunswick and one season in the East Coast Hockey League before quitting hockey.
Several years later, he got serious about hockey again, except this time as an official, and made a meteoric rise to the NHL in 2007 after just five years as a linesman.
“I’d be lying if I said it was my goal to make it to the NHL when I started officiating,” Cherrey said, adding he was just seeking a part-time gig at the time. “But I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and I’ve worked really hard to be the best official I can be.”
Cherrey said despite knowing a number of current NHL players from his junior playing days, he did not really get an opportunity to speak with any of them last season.
“I was so focused on the game I didn’t get into a lot of side chit-chat,” Cherrey said. He also noted he never officiated a San Jose Sharks game, where he may have had an opportunity to meet up with his old pal Joe Thornton, a perennial NHL all-star, with whom Cherrey played one season for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Cherrey did note it was interesting to officiate NHL games featuring stars like Mike Richards, of the Philadelphia Flyers. He refereed many of Richards’ games in the OHL.
Focus remains the order of the day for the NHL’s youngest full-time official, who told the Wellington Advertiser he remains a student of the game and enjoys learning from senior officials, whom he called “the best in the world.”
Cherrey said full-time employment with the NHL is a big step from a 40-40 contract, and his next goal is to officiate play-off games at some point. He noted it usually takes four to five years before officials get to take part in the NHL post season.
“Right now I just want to keep striving to get better,” he said.