Linesman Vaughan Rody is calling it a career. The veteran official will work his final National Hockey League game tonight as the Seattle Kraken host the Colorado Avalanche.
Rody, who wears #73, will take the ice one last time alongside fellow linesman and Manitoban Ryan Galloway, and referees Kyle Rehman and Ian Walsh.
On Wednesday, he’ll make his curtain call in his adopted hometown of Seattle, where he’s lived for the past thirty years.
“I was like everybody else when the National Hockey League had previously talked about coming to Seattle,” Rody told NHL.com. “I couldn’t wait for that opportunity to happen. Not only selfishly because I knew I would get some games here, but I am so proud of the NHL and I know how that operation works.
“It’s the greatest league in the world, and, I was excited for my friends and my family and people in this area to get an opportunity to see what I’ve watched for 20-plus years. So, for me to do this game, and have an opportunity to wrap it up here in my second home, it really is tremendous.”
His farewell tour has been underway for a few weeks, with teams lining up to shake his hand after their final game with him manning the lines.
“In hockey we have a pretty amazing tradition at the handshakes, and when you’ve been in this league as long as I have … there’s a lot of respect from the players to you as an official,” said Rody. “They do a tremendous job of kind of showing their respect through the handshakes and the little shows and gestures like that.”
“For them to take the time, to take a moment to reflect on your career and wish you all the best [feels great]. At the end of the day, you don’t make it 20 20 some years by accident. I think when they come over and shake your hand, they take time out of their schedule and in their day to do that, I think it’s just such a show of respect and I think it just legitimizes what they think of you in your career. ”
One of the challenges of life as an official is balancing work and family life, especially spending upwards of 20 days a month on the road.
“I think with this game when you’re in this business for such a long time, you realize that this is all about your family,” Rody said. “And it’s all about the people that have had a hand in making me or allowing me to have this dream. …Those people [that support you]when they get a chance to share in your accomplishments and they get a chance to kind of share in your success and see what you do for work, those are the most meaningful moments.”
His family will be in the stands Wednesday night watching his final game after an amazing 22-year NHL career
“I’ve dreamed about this job since I was 14 years old. I was lucky enough and proud enough to get an opportunity to live my dream, which not many people do,” Rody said.
“I realized it’s a privilege and an honor to be standing inside the glass. This is going to be my last skate around the ice. I’m ready for it. In fairness, I realized it was my time 22 years ago. It’s not my time anymore. It’s somebody else’s time.”
Rody has officiated 1,224 regular season games, along with 19 playoff appearances. This season, though, he’ll be watching the playoffs from home, cheering for the players and the guys in stripes.
“I’ve always been a fan of the game,” Rody said. “I’m a fan of great players and I think I’m more of a fan of better human beings,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys in this National Hockey League I pull for because they’re good people.
“I have 78 teammates [NHL linesmen and referees] that are the best people in the world. I will be pulling for them because I know how difficult this job is… it does take a special human being to be inside the glass blowing the whistle. It takes a lot of courage to do this job and they’ll never hear from me in a negative way. Everything will be positive.”
He may be giving up his whistle, but he won’t exactly be leaving the ice. Rody will once again be back at the rink this summer, running his Pro Edge Skating School.
All the best to linesman Vaughan Rody in retirement!