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Referee Bill Mccreary Ready For Career Finale


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Referee Bill McCreary ready for career finale

Bill McCreary's career as an NHL referee comes full circle on Saturday night.

It began on Nov. 3, 1984, when McCreary officiated a game between the Washington Capitals and the visiting New Jersey Devils. More than 27 years later, McCreary will call it a career after he works the game between the Caps and the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.

McCreary will start his 1,737th regular-season game by doing his trademark puck flip before dropping the puck to start the Sabres-Caps game. Add in a record 297 Stanley Cup Playoff contests and McCreary has taken the ice for more than 2,000 NHL games.

Not bad for a former junior player from Guelph, Ont., who turned to officiating when he realized he wasn't going to make the big time as a skater.

McCreary's farewell tour

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Bill McCreary will work his final game as an NHL referee on Saturday night in Washington, culminating a farewell trip around the League he's worked for since 1984.

"I think it's really hit me in the past couple of weeks when I've gone to arenas for the last time," he said. "When you go to an arena in January or February, you know you're coming back in three or four or five weeks for another game.

"As you do arenas for the last time, it makes you aware that things are coming to an end, and you start to reminisce and appreciate the wonderful people around the game, outside the game as well as the opportunity you've been given to referee such professional athletes, coaches and managers throughout your career."

McCreary has been given warm receptions in his farewell tour. He said perhaps the most memorable was the way he was treated this week in Montreal, where he worked the game between the Canadiens and the Atlanta Thrashers.

"I was in Montreal on Tuesday night, and it was the last time I was ever going to drop the puck there and officiate a hockey game," he said. "They gave me a standing ovation at the start of the game, I missed a high stick in the third period and they booed, and then they shook my hand at the end of the game.

"To me it shows what the game of hockey means to them -- it's a fantastic atmosphere to do a hockey game. I've always enjoyed working there."

The last of the vets as we know them....all the best.

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One of the last good refs we have left.

This

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