Off-ice officials Reg White (back) and Don Walsh have been tabulating shots and monitoring players’ shifts at AHL games since the early 1990s.
©Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
As St. John’s 20-year run in the American Hockey League winds down, The Telegram has been profiling a number of individuals who have been familiar faces behind the scenes for much of that time. We’re calling them the Faces of the AHL.
Among their duties as statisticians for American Hockey League games in St. John’s, Don Walsh and Reg White are responsible for tabulating the plus-minus stats for players.
But Walsh and White say, for them personally, there have been far more pluses during their two decades of work at Memorial Stadium and Mile One Centre.
Theirs can be hectic work, having to stay focused on the game in order to, among other things, keep track of shots on goal and which players are on the ice at all times. This requires a lot of verbal communication between the two off-ice officials, and as Walsh pointed out, it has to be done while sometimes having to deal with the distractions of the visiting broadcaster seated next to them “going crazy loud, doing his thing.”
But both say they’ve loved their jobs.
“I was out of hockey for a few years after refereeing hockey for 25 years in the old senior league and (working as an AHL off-ice official) was a way to get involved in the game I loved,” said Walsh, who is also known as the ‘barrel man,” having long kept a cache of Purity candy barrels for all in the press box to enjoy.
He figures he’s distributed “somewhere around 32,000 of them over the 20 years (of the AHL), more if you count the games the Fog Devils played.”
Q. What has been your role with the St. John’s hockey teams?
A. Reg White — I was an off-ice official who started as a goal judge, then worked as a penalty box attendant, did some penalty timekeeping and then moved to a statistician for the last 15 seasons.
Don Walsh — I’ve been chief statistician right from the first game of the St. John's Maple Leafs, continuing on until the team left, then did the same job with the (QMJHL’s) Fog Devils Devils and then the IceCaps.
Q. When did you start working AHL games in St. John’s?
A. Reg White — 1992; Don Walsh — 1991
Q. What are some of your favorite memories?
A. Reg White — Meeting and speaking to Toronto and Montreal alumni players on their visits to St. John’s, talking to players in the penalty box, especially those who went on to play in the NHL, taking (visiting) play-by-play broadcasters on tours in and around St. John’s, NHL teams playing exhibition games here, the AHL all-star games and when St. John’s played in the Calder Cup finals.
Don Walsh — The people I've met, especially all the older NHL players who were my idols when I was a kid.
Q. Any one highlight?
A. Reg White — Meeting and speaking to Johnny Bower.
Don Walsh — No specific highlights that stand out, but I can say it's been a great ride and I enjoyed every minute of it. (It’s) hard to believe time has passed by so quickly.
Q. What will you miss about the AHL?
A. Reg White — Working with a professional hockey team.
Don Walsh — Meeting the people, especially the NHL players who sometimes show up at the rink. Meeting the (visiting) broadcasters, just the general feeling of belonging to a pro league and contributing to something worthwhile. Keeping in touch — and working — with my old referee buddies.