The Stew: Attacks on Wes McCauley's character are a DISGRACE
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"In this day and age" is a phrase that means nothing. The world seems to spin on an axis that seems to very far from what we used to consider "normal."
It was at one time the most egregious event happening during the Stanley Cup Playoffs was that a team "misplaces" the Stanley Cup and no one can seem to remember where they left it.
Eventually, the Cup -- it is a little hard to camouflage or hide in plain sight -- was returned just in time for The Commissioner to tell the winning captain to come forward and take possession of the Cup after the fourth win for that team in the Series.
Now I get to read from some of the "brilliant" scribes that veteran referee Wes McCauley has some negative feeling for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their coach.
The "issue" stems back to some miscreant named David Frost who happened to take up household with a woman named Bridget, the daughter of John and Irene and sister of Wes McCauley and Blaine McCauley.
From what little we have ever spoken about Wes' sister and her "husband," his name and conduct were not delved into in depth. Wes would just shake his head and I never felt comfortable in pressing the topic.
How far back do I go with The McCauley family you ask? His dad, John, reffed the first game I played in the NHL. It was a 1976 New York Rangers exhibition game at Madison Square Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers. I got tossed out by McCauley after 81 seconds due to my hauling Steve Short up off the ice after I whacked him. Oh, yes, I picked him off the ice by the hair.
Later on in my career, I started a very large fight in Binghamton of the AHL. The referee that night was John McCauley who had come down from the NHL to try to get his game back after a very serious eye injury from a punch by a "fan" in NY after a game VS the Russian national team
After I was again chucked, John asked me to come by to see him. He then chatted with me about my family and the officiating career that everyone in my house had. John asked me to consider reffing when I was done playing.
Fast forward to 1983 with Scotty Morrison and John McCauley inviting me to Bruce Hood's Officiating School and then on to the NHL's Officiating Training Camp.
Now fast forward again to 1987 at the Canada Cup. NHL Referee in Chief, John McCauley, NHL Officiating VP Scotty Morrison and IIHF President Rene Fasel assigned me to Game 2 of the finals in Hamilton. It was a double OT win for Canada. Suffice to say, my career was launched because of those three men.
Fast forward again to June 13, 1989. At age 44, John McCauley sadly leaves this earth devastating his family, his friends, the Hockey world and especially me. John's passing was a much sadder day for me, even more than my own dad's passing.
My Dad was sick and in pain. God took him because he was feeling that his four children -- I was the last of his concerns -- were all going to be OK.
Dad said to me, "You're all set. Whatever John McCauley asks of you, you do it. He's going to take over for me in keeping an eye on you."
I was just about to head out to Calgary and Edmonton on Dec 4-5-6 for two games out west.
"I likely won't be here when you get back." Death is hard when it's your Dad who you love. It was about to get even harder for me.
On June 13, I am playing a round of golf, My 20-pound bag phone rings. Linesman Pat Dapuzzo is on the other end.
"Stew, we lost our friend," he said.
I could hardly speak when we all went to see John in his casket. I remember seeing the three kids sitting there all wearing rings that his Dad had been awarded during his brilliant career as an on-ice NHL official. There isn't enough Gorilla Glue to patch my heart together after seeing that scene.
Wes spoke at his dad's funeral. I couldn't hear a word. My eyes were full of tears and my heart was broken for myself, for my fellow officials, but especially for the McCauley family.
As time went on, Wes headed to college to play at Michigan State. Dappso and I went to his games to watch him play as good "Dutch uncles" should do.
Again, fast forward. Now it's 2003. I am about to officiate my 1,000th NHL game. Dappso and Gerry Gauthier were my choices as linesmen. I requested, insisted, that Wes McCauley be my partner referee. Trust me, there was a lot of discussion that went into it. Wes had three NHL games under his belt. There was some reluctance by the then powers in charge. I didn't care as I knew he could do the job just as his Dad firmy believed I could when he entrusted me with that Canada Cup Game in '87. (Side note, I hadn't even reffed an entire NHL assignment yet at that point.)
We are engaged in a Stanley Cup Playoff. The potpourri of both good and some not-so-good, some shady characters, family issues, marriages, divorces, more death when Irene, John's wife passed from the ravages of Diabetes, all of these are part of the fabric of The McCauley family's life since 1989 when John left us all.
Now we have an NHL team that has a chance to play in the Playoffs. Last I checked, a team still needs 16 wins to skate off with the Stanley Cup. The Toronto Maple Leafs win one series, a segment of the fan base cockily chants "we want Florida!" (be careful what you wish for, my friends, because you might get it) and the city is practically starting to plan their parade.
The Florida Panthers knocked off the Boston Bruins, on merit. That wasn't a fluke. The Bruins got beat. No one blamed the officiating.
Toronto loses a few second-round games. Some of the partisan scribes, hoping to make a "name" for themselves take a swipe at someone who is widely considered the best active official in the game today. I take it personally, because this referee, this man, this human being, MY FRIEND, is someone whose professional integrity and whose bloodlines in the game are beyond question.
If you know anything about me, I am not politically correct. I say what I think. I do think about what I say well before it's out there. You took a run at my teammate. Well, I've got his back.
Before the start of the third period of my 1,000th game, I called Wes McCauley over and handed him the puck. It was my way of passing the torch to the next generation of officials and thanking my late mentor -- who also happened to be this young official's father -- for his faith in me way back when. It was easy for me to show a gesture of faith in Wes, because he had all the makings of a damn good referee.
In the years since then, Wes McCauley has turned promise into performance. He's one of the best. In multiple NHLPA polls of the league's players, he's come out on top.
By the way, if you're one who'd toss mud on the McCauley name, here's a word of advice. If you see me in the same room or walking down the same street, go to the to other side. If you've got a problem with the McCauleys, you've got one with me, too. Wes McCauley is a man of integrity from two parents who epitomized integrity.
How seriously do I take this? My wife and named our first-born son McCauley John Stewart.
How seriously do I take this? I will tell you, without one second of hesitation or the slightest doubt, that Wes McCauley is every bit his father's son. Looking down from above, John McCauley would be extremely proud of Wes the man as well as Wes the hockey referee.
Anyone who says otherwise is ill-informed. And now, you have the rest of -- and the real --story.
A 2018 inductee into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul Stewart holds the distinction of
being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.