While the fans from both teams were going crazy, it was Wes McCauley’s job to keep his head during the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals.
McCauley, who lives in South Portland, was one of four men assigned to referee the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins.
His officiating crew was on the ice at TD Garden June 24 when the Blackhawks scored two goals during a 17-second span late in the third period of Game 6 to pull out a 3-2 win and capture the cup for the second time in four seasons.
“It was a great final from our standpoint,” McCauley said. “We weren’t reading our names in the papers.”
No controversial officiating calls were made during the six-game finals.
“I think the finals were called the way they should always officiate (them),” said former NHL defenseman Eric Weinrich, who grew up in Gardiner and now scouts for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. “They let a lot of things go and let the players determine the outcome of the game the way they should. They didn’t call the ticky-tacky calls they usually do, and I thought it was a great series because of that.”
McCauley said he simply did the best job he could do during a very intense series.
“You’re in the moment and you’re focused on what is going on in the game,” he said. “We want to be consistent from the drop of the puck to the end of the game. That’s our job, and that’s what we do, then we move on to the next game, but we’re not thinking behind, we’re not thinking ahead.”
That focus must be maintained no matter what is going on inside the arena or how much noise the fans are making.
“Really, we kind of have a saying where our job is inside the glass,” McCauley said. “We don’t worry ourselves about what’s going on outside.”
McCauley has a simple approach to his job.
“You ask yourself ‘was it fair?”‘ he said. “That’s our job. Our job is to be fair.”
It’s a mentally-taxing line of work.
“You’re more mentally-fatigued at the end (of a game),” McCauley said.
Still, the referees and linesman have to have the physical stamina to keep up with the play.
“You got to be out of the way,” McCauley said. “You’ve got to move. You’ve got to work yourself so you are in position to give yourself the best opportunity to make the right decision.”
It was the first time McCauley, who has worked as an NHL referee for the past eight seasons, had been assigned to officiate the finals.
“Last year I got to the conference finals for the first time, so I’ve basically been progressing up, you know,” he said.
McCauley, 41, is the son of the late John McCauley, who was the director of officials for the NHL when he passed away in 1989 at the age of 44.
“I always thought I would get to the National Hockey League as a player,” McCauley said. “That road was blocked, (but) there’s other ways to stay involved in the game and get to that level.”
A defenseman, McCauley played four seasons at Michigan State.
“I was a draft pick of the Red Wings, and I obviously didn’t make it to the NHL as a player,” he said. “I bounced around in the minor leagues for a while.”
McCauley met his wife, Bethany, the sister of former University of Maine player Eric Fenton, while playing minor league hockey in Milan, Italy.
“The NHL was making a real push in the mid-90s to get more ex-players involved in the officiating end of it,” he said. “I kind of gave it a shot and it worked out.”
Before moving up to the NHL, McCauley spent four seasons refereeing games in the AHL.
Nine years ago, McCauley took up residence in his wife’s hometown. The couple has three children.
“Maine is a great place to live,” he said. “We don’t have any home games. When I’m on the road, I’m on the road, but when I’m home, I’m home.”
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: