By Adam Steiss (from

The IIHF held its biannual Referee-In-Chief Seminar on Frankfurt, Germany over the weekend, bringing in officials from around the hockey world together for a series of discussions about enforcing the rules ice hockey.

The Referee in Chief Summit is organized every two years for the benefit of its Member National Associations’ (MNA) Referees in Chief (RIC), for the following purposes:
– To provide resources to MNAs on officiating program management
– Share information between MNAs
– To engage the MNA RIC in partnership with the IIHF on growing and improving the quality of officiating
– To build relationships with fellow participants and instructors that may result in join initiative to promote the game
– Networking between the RICs from different countries

There was an additional key agenda point to this year’s Officiating Summit: the introduction of the 2018-2022 IIHF Rule Book, which officially came into effect on the same weekend, starting on 1 July.

The Referees-in-Chief were presented with the new Rule Book on the opening day of the Summit. The development of the new Rule Book was overseen by the IIHF Player Safety Committee, chaired by IIHF Vice President Bob Nicholson. Nicholson had earlier presented the Rule Book to the IIHF Referee Supervisors during their meeting in Zurich, Switzerland in mid-June.

“We collected proposals from the Member National Associations and the IIHF Committees, and then consulted with these groups and also outside experts such as the NHL Player Safety Department,” said Nicholson. “I would like to thank all the participants for their valued input and expertise which went into the development of the IIHF Rule Book.”

The Rule Book information session at the RIC Summit opened with a presentation by former Swiss ice hockey player Victor Stancescu. Stancescu also is a sitting member of the IIHF Player Safety Committee, which was responsible for the development of the 2018-2022 IIHF Rule Book and the integration of all the approved rule proposals from the MNAs. Stancescu first went over the structure and provided the background behind the development of the new Rule Book.

“Aside from writing in the new rule that were approved at Congress, we have taken a step further to improve clarity within the Rule Book itself, by taking examples from the Officiating Casebook and writing them into the respective Rule,” said Stancescu. “So that in some of the rules you now have an example from a game situation, which you can use as a reference for the enforcement of the rule.”

Stancescu also provided information of the major and minor rule changes that were integrated in the new Rule Book. Some video examples from games at the World Championship and World Juniors were shown to give situations where the new Late Hit Rule should be implemented.

With all the new proposals for the 2018-2022 IIHF Rule Book confirmed at the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress and then written into the Rule Book during the 2017/2018 season, the task was then left to the IIHF Sport Department, represented by Officiating Managers Konstantin Komissarov and Danny Kurmann, to explain how the new rules should be implemented in game situations by the referees.

The RICs were then broken up into groups for a workshop, designed to stimulate discussion about both the new and existing rules and to get insight on the reasons behind the formation of the rules.

With the 2018-2022 IIHF Rule Book now in effect, the RICs will now go back to their respective countries and work on implementing the Rule Book into their national team programs and leagues.

In addition to introducing the Rule Book, the Summit opened on Friday with a presentation covering match fixing and sport betting, presented by IIHF Legal Counsel Ashley Ehlert. Ehlert covered the IIHF’s efforts to monitor irregular betting on World Championship games with Sport Radar. She pointed out that sports betting has grown exponentially with globalization and the internet playing a major role.

“As referees you are in a particularly delicate situation,” said Ehlert. “For a match fixer, game officials can be targeted just as easily as players.”

Day Two then shifted the focus to the future goals of the IIHF Officiating Program, as well as strategy-building to tackle issues like the recruitment, training and retention of game officials.

“Just as important to recruit players to ensure the development of ice hockey, it is equally important to make an effort to encourage and develop interest in a career in officiating,” said Officiating Committee Chairman Sergej Gontcharov.

“We follow the slogan ‘No Refs, No Game’,” said Officiating Committee Co-Chair Marta Zawadzka. “We want to show to kids that it’s possible to stay in the game and even get to the Olympics without having to be a player.”