Thorndale area native could officiate in 40 NHL games this season
By Pat Payton
He describes it as “absolutely a dream come true.”
Last week, the Independent learned that linesman Tyson Baker recently signed a ‘40-40’ officiating contract through the National Hockey League.
The contract means the former Lincoln and Stratford Culliton will officiate in 80 pro games (up to 40 of those games could be NHL contests) during the 2018-19 season. The 23-year-old Thorndale area native is working five NHL pre-season games this fall — two in Vancouver and others in Calgary, Columbus and Pittsburgh.
“You work 80 games total, that’s your contract, but their hope is to get you into 40 NHL games,” Baker told the newspaper last week. Some other young officials he talked to last year worked between 30 and 43 NHL games.
Baker played Junior hockey in the GOJHL from 2011 to 2016, finishing his playing career as captain of the Cullitons. He became an official the following season with the Stratford Referees Association. In 2017, he was recruited to join the OHA officiating staff as a linesman and then progressed to the Ontario Hockey League and American Hockey League.
Baker was named the OHA’s Top Prospect linesman last year. Late in the season, he worked games in the OHA Sutherland Cup semi-finals, the OHL semi-finals, and a number of games in the AHL playoffs.
He will officiate in his first-ever NHL games this week.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d be where I am today,” said Baker, who recently attended a week-long training camp in Buffalo for NHL referees and linesmen.
“It was probably only two or two and a half years ago that I was doing minor hockey games in St. Marys. Things have changed pretty quickly.”