For anyone who doesn’t know or even cares I am a 3-year veteran of the ice hockey officiating world. No referee in the NHL should EVER worry. Let’s leave it at that.
So while my skating abilities would never be compared to Sydney Crosby – maybe more like Bing Crosby – I do pride myself in working hard to be a good official.
When you officiate men’s league games you run across some interesting people. And I say interesting. That’s interesting as in, wow, that guy is interesting or man, that guy is interesting. I’m pretty sure you get the idea.
There are doctors, lawyers, bricklayers, financial wizards, filmmakers (yes there is one) among a ton of other sorts of careers attributed to the players. And there are at least two teams made up of men in law enforcement.
Oddly enough, while you might think they would be the most well behaved, well, let’s just say sometimes the obvious isn’t reality.
Today I found out that next month there will be a special ice hockey game played at my home rink in honor of Plymouth Township Officer Brad Fox.
As it turns out, Fox played for one of the teams that plays at the rink where I officiate. For all I know I may have whistled him offsides or called a penalty on him sometime the last two seasons. The team he played for were a bunch of good guys. It was only in the past few months that I realized that a bunch of them were cops.
I looked at photos of Fox on the Web but honestly he didn’t look that familiar. It’s difficult to tell who’s who behind a hockey helmet and cage.
But during the course of dozens of games you do get to know a lot of the men’s league players. Some meetings come about in a good way, some aren’t in the most friendly of situations. Guys get all emotional, they get mad, heck, they even throw a punch or two.
I guess the point here is that the guys I meet who are cops, firefighters, military vets (there are those as well) and others in public service I do go out of my way to show them my appreciation.
It’s one thing being out on the ice yelling at players to keep sticks down and lay off the rough stuff, it’s another to be running in and out of burning buildings, calming down a bar fight or chasing down an armed gunman.
And I’m sure like there are certainly poor referees, there are cops and firefighters who maybe don’t always give 100 percent. From the looks of it, it doesn’t sound like Brad Fox was one of them.
He was a U.S. Marine veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq. By all accounts, Fox was a hero who didn’t deserve to lose his life chasing a career criminal.
So I am truly sorry for not remembering his face or his time on the ice. I can always say that the teams with cops or firefighters are guys who stand up for one another and look out for teammates.
That was Brad Fox.
It’s a tragedy that his wife and young daughter and yet unborn second child will not have their husband/dad any more. That’s the risk that goes along with service in public safety. We hope people appreciate the sacrifice Fox made for the safety of the citizens of Plymouth Township.
There’s nothing that will bring him back. His life is over thanks to a thug with a gun. But we can honor his legacy in a bunch of different ways.
Sure, you can send a check to a fund for his kids. You can donate to the local Fraternal Order of Police. And all of those things are great.
When I visited New York a few months ago I went out of my way to shake the hand of every cop and firefighter who would shake my hand back (and obviously not think I was some kind of whacko). I even had my picture taken with a fireman.
So do everyone a favor and the next cop or firefighter you see, stop, look him or her in the eye and just say thanks.
It can’t save a life or solve all of their problems on the job. But for that one instant it will let them know that at least you have total respect for their courage and sacrifice.
Next time I’m on the ice with the cops or firefighters, I will show my respect. I will still call the penalty but on the way to the box I plan to give ‘em a pat on the back and tell them thanks. It’s the least I can do.
— Andy Hachadorian