The January 12, 2003 issue of the Washington Post featured an article that highlights the difficulties of being a referee in the National Hockey League. The article highlights the career of one of hockey’s more enduring referees, Andy Van Hellemond, who refereed 1,475 games, more than anyone else in league history. Van Hellemond, now serves as the NHL’s director of officiating.
During his active career as a referee he broke his hand, broke three ribs and separated his sternum after a collision with Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson along the boards. Van Hellemond was twisted awkwardly upon impact and spent five weeks in the hospital with a badly pinched nerve. He recalls the effects of his injury, “I couldn’t feel my right leg for the longest time,” Van Hellemond said. “They would put pins and needles in my leg up to my hip and I didn’t feel a thing. It was completely blocked.” The article then explains that his career was saved by chiropractic. The article stated, “Eventually a chiropractic adjustment saved Van Hellemond’s career.”
Van Hellemond, was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999. He is also at the vanguard of a sweeping evaluation system in which every official travels with a laptop computer and receives daily critiques via e-mail and video downloads. He was also the first official to wear a helmet. His innovations and contributions to hockey would have been sorely missed had his career been cut short. Andy Van Hellemond, and Chiropractic have made their mark in hockey’s history.