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With his signature black mustache, Bill McCreary is one of the most recognizable referees in the NHL. That, or it could be that he is also the longest tenured referee.
McCreary has worked 1,982 NHL games, having reached the milestone of 1,500 games on February 16, 2008. In his 26th year in the NHL, McCreary has seen and heard it all, but still cherishes every moment of it.
“I am honored to have worked in the NHL this long,” McCreary said. “My family has always been very supportive of my career and I’m very lucky they all enjoy watching hockey!”
Bill began his officiating career after spending three years playing Junior-A hockey in St. Catharines and Windsor. Later, he joined the OHA as a linesman and worked the following two years as a referee.
After his third year in the OHA, the late John McCauley, who at that time was the Supervisor of Officials for the NHL, invited him to a training camp. He was initially offered part-time work in the Central and American Hockey Leagues for the season.
Then, in 1982, Scotty Morrison, former NHL Referee-in-Chief, signed him to an NHL contract. McCreary has always thanked everyone who helped him in his career, especially his co-workers.
“Then there are all of the officials I’ve worked games with over the years,” McCreary said. “We are a team on the ice and you simply can’t be successful alone.”
Between 1994 and 2007, McCreary worked every Stanley Cup Finals, a record which stands today most likely will never be broken.
His resume impressively continues, including the 1991 and 1994 Canada Cups, the 1994 All-Star Game in New York, the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, which McCreary considers the high point of his career to date.
McCreary plans to retire after the current NHL season, capping one of the most prolific officiating careers in the NHL ever. Does this mean an end to the famous mustache as well? Probably not.
“Absolutely not,” McCreary said. “I shaved it off once and even my dog didn’t know me.”