Antigonish’s Matt MacPherson had an up-close view as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presented Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin with the Stanley Cup, June 7, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Up-close because he had just finished working the lines for game five of the 2018 Stanley Cup finals; his third of the series after games one and three.
“It was an honour to be chosen to represent the group; there are only four refs and four linesmen who get to work it [the finals] and take the pressure to represent the whole group,” said the 34-year-old MacPherson, who just completed his seventh year as an NHL linesman.
“I think, overall, the eight of us working did a good job.”
The Capitals downed the first-year Vegas Golden Knights four games to one to claim their first-ever Stanley Cup since entering the league in the 1974-75 season.
MacPherson worked two games in Vegas and one in D.C.
“The atmosphere was incredible in both cities,” he said.
“Both cities really rallied around their teams but Vegas, just coming into the league, being in their first year, all season long the fans were great … tremendous really. They were loud, into the games, it was quite the experience. And then it ramped up that much more in the finals … it was a pretty incredible atmosphere.”
MacPherson said the mantra for on-ice officials is similar to the players when it comes to focusing: treat it like just another game.
“We have to do that too; when we’re on the ice, we’re in the bubble,” he said. “Two teams and a puck is what one of my colleagues says.
“You have to treat it like just any other game but it’s tough putting aside all the outside noise. The media, everything surrounding it, we have to try and set that aside when we go out and step on the ice to do our jobs, the best we can do them.”
Broadcasters often made note, during telecasts, of the meetings for on-ice officials on game days and/or off-days.
“Every playoff series has one supervisor assigned to it, so we would get together with that person for a sit-down,” MacPherson, providing some insight, said.
“The day of the game we would go over anything that cropped up in previous games that needed to be addressed. Any issues the teams may have with certain things, things to look out for; just sort of a meeting the day of the game to get us all on the same page and ready to go for the game that night.”
As for memories from his first Cup final, MacPherson said many are a blur, because there is so much going on in a short time, while it’s his and his colleagues job to stay razor focused.
“Obviously being on the ice when the Cup was won, that one is going to stand out,” he said.
“Having the Stanley Cup in the building and getting to see it, first-hand, being presented, that is something that is going to stick with me forever, that’s for sure.”