Coach Bruce Boudreau has been critical about officiating this season, mentioning how the Capitals have so few power plays compared to the rest of the NHL. But on Saturday he spoke in glowing terms about veteran referee Bill McCreary, who is working his final regular-season game Saturday night at Verizon Center.
Boudreau said it was an honor that McCreary picked Washington for this occasion.
“I’ve known Bill half my life,” said Boudreau, referencing arguments with him in the American Hockey League. “He’s been one of the best referees if not the best referee in this league for many years. It’s gonna be tough for the next guy; the standard has been set by him. He deserves all the accolades he’s gonna get.”
McCreary has worked 15 Stanley Cup Finals, holding the record for most Finals games (44) and most playoff games (297) officiated. Boudreau’s words were not hyperbole – McCreary is considered one of the best in NHL history at that job.
Boudreau said that was because McCreary knew how to read the game and respect coaches.
“[He] didn’t call all the piddly stuff unless it was that kind of game, or he’d let stuff go and then he’d come over and he’d communicate with the coaches,” Boudreau said. “If anybody wants to be a good ref, all you have to do is learn how to communicate properly with the coaches and it makes it so much easier on everybody concerned.”
He’ll be honored in a pregame ceremony Saturday night.
“I have worked with an incredible group of people both on and off the ice and I am looking forward to my next adventure,” McCreary said in a statement released by the NHL.