NHL linesman Darren Gibbs will make Fort McMurray sports history next month as the first official to be inducted in the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Gibbs has officiated in the NHL since 1997 after several years of working in the AJHL and the WHL.
The 46-year-old has officiated in the Memorial Cup Finals and an NHL All Star Game and is coming close to his 1,000th NHL game.
He was also selected by Kerry Fraser to work Fraser's final NHL game in 2010.
Gibbs took some time to answer some questions for the Today Sunday afternoon from his home in Texas.
Today: What was your reaction when you found out you are going to be in the WBSHOF?
Gibbs: I think a lot of shock was involved in it. Several things go through your mind, but I still don't think I've even comprehended the magnitude of it as of yet. I think it will all start to sink in a little bit more as the event gets closer.
But obviously you are excited to be joining some of the names I recognize, like Chris Phillips and my old coach Franky Lacroix in there as well. You go through a magnitude of emotions but I was definitely shocked and definitely honoured.
Do you still maintain a strong connection to Fort McMurray?
I've got a couple of buddies up there. Warren Ouellette who is a buddy I lived with in Moberly Crescent since 1967 and Jim Kostiuk, a local referee up there. I have many other buddies that I keep in text with and golf, because we golf in the summers together.
But usually I only come up for the golf tournament up there. I try to make it at least every other year which I've done for the past six or seven years.
What do you think is your career highlight?
Just making the National Hockey League is a highlight in itself. We've got guys who do slews of Stanley Cup finals and I haven't done a final yet.
But I worked an all-star game last year in Raleigh, which is a really good time. It's more oriented for families. My mom and dad came down and cousins flying in and friends, like the aforementioned Jim Kostiuk. It was a good time.
But really the way the game is right now you do a lot of really good hockey games. I got to the 15-year point, I just finished my 15th year this season and just the fact that I am where I am right now is a highlight.
Is officiating in the Stanley Cup finals a goal of yours?
For sure. It's kind of how we're wired. You go into every season wanting to work the Stanley Cup finals. Just because it's taken 15 years to get there doesn't mean it's an unachievable goal. I mean I'm a hockey fan, I'm watching the Blues and Kings game as we speak. I'm a hockey fan and it's a good time of year to be on the ice and working with the pressure and the emotion and the fun of the Stanley cup final.
Do you have any regrets in your career?
I don't think so. Franky Lacroix, my old coach in Junior B, always encouraged me to work at my officiating so I think that I heeded his advice with my dad's tutoring, and I don't think it could've worked out any better.
These hands were meant for dropping pucks, not stick handling with them.
What's your advice to young officials who would like to make it to the big league?
I think for me, I would just pass on the advice that my dad and other officials gave me: you never know who is in the building and you're getting paid to do a job, so always work hard and be professional.
At the same time, you've got to have fun with it. Officiating, there's a reason why there's so much turnover at the beginning levels, it's because, let's face it; if you want to get yelled at you can just stay at home and not do your chores. Why go to the rink to get yelled at by fans and mostly parents?
It's a tough grind, but stick it out, work hard and have fun. If this cowboy can make it to the bigs from Fort McMurray that means anyone can make it.