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Joe Lane wins Ray Bowe officiating award

Joe Lane (left) is presented with the Ray Bowe Award of Merit for his officiating work by Hockey NL. – Submitted photo

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES – Joe Lane has been coaching for 40 years and officiating for 32, and has just added another award to his list of accolades – the Ray Bowe Award of Merit for officiating.

Lane, who played minor hockey from squirt all the way to midget, got involved more heavily with coaching when he graduated from tech school, and it was through this experience that he saw an opportunity.

“During my coaching time, I found the quality of officiating at times was not good and I looked at it and thought, rather than complain about it, I’ll do something about it. So I did clinics and got involved with officiating myself with the aspiration of hopefully being able to work with officials and that’s where I’m at today.”

For years Lane has managed to balance both coaching and officiating, something he admits wasn’t easy.

“It was tough, time-consuming, but rewarding. Working with the kids for coaching was great, but I always looked at officiating as a coaching too because it’s like anything. If you take a kid, put him in a clinic and stick him on the ice, he’s going to make mistakes, and if you’re supervising and mentoring you can correct him and move him forward, and it’s the same thing with coaching. You’ve got to teach kids how to play hockey. Basically, I thought the referees were being a bit neglective at times and if they got more coaching, they would get better.”

A few injuries later in his career, Lane got involved with supervising and holding clinics for officials.

“I’m a Hockey Canada instructor for officials, and then 10 years ago, I got promoted to zone co-ordinator for Western/Northern Newfoundland, so I’m kind-of in charge of that program for all of those areas. So I can walk into those rinks and supervise rather than just my own rink, which made it good for me because I got to work with a lot of the grassroots kids in officiating. I do Hockey Canada supervision for them to make them better, help them correct their mistakes.”

Lane said these clinics and training opportunities are very important, especially for officials early on in their career.

“With a kid, a grassroots official, if you catch them in the early stages, you are able to correct them, but if somebody’s been in the system for 20 years and doing the same thing for 20 years, not doing it right, it’s hard to correct them. Hockey Canada now, we’re focusing on the grassroots kids, getting those kids on the right track – same thing as coaching hockey, no difference.”

Lane said that through both hockey and officiating, there have been many memorable moments, but what sticks with him the most is helping to develop the young officials.

“Working with the grassroots, I find their officiating is getting much better and I think it helps the kids to develop. Developing and mentoring the younger officials, and even working with the older officials, it makes the game better. If the officials are better, they are getting more quality officiating in the games and that’s important.”

Lane shared that sometimes when adrenaline is going during a game people tend to blame the officials, but what people have to realize is that these officials don’t have access to what the NHL does in order to make a call.

“It’s momentary. We don’t have cameras on the net. We don’t have cameras on the blue line. So it’s at that exact second, that exact moment in time that the official makes the call. Hopefully it’s mostly always the correct call. My philosophy is, listen, players are making more mistakes per shift than an official does in the game. Let them grow with the game. They’re never going to get any better if you don’t let them grow.”

Dealing with a pandemic for two years was difficult for officials because, where there were once hundreds of games where they could hone their skills and gain experience, things instead came to a stand still.

“It was basically a setback because the kids weren’t getting the experience on the ice, and they weren’t getting supervisions because there wasn’t any games. It’s like anything. If you get away from something for awhile, you tend to find something else to do, and we lost a few officials through that process. We are trying to build it back now. I think it’s starting to come back.”

Lane admits was very humbled once he’d discovered he’d won the award.

“I find this is probably the ultimate award. You don’t do it for this, but when you get recognized for something like that, it’s honouring. It’s prestigious.”

This award is not the first for Lane. In 2006 he won a Meritorious Award for outstanding service to minor hockey in the province from Hockey NL (HNL). In 2007 he won a national award from the RBC Hockey Leaders program, and he has also been the recipient of the Brian Wakelin Executive of the Year, the Joe Byrne Hockey Development Award, and the 2012 Queens Diamond Jubilee for his dedication to provincial hockey programs.

Lane also has an annual award in his honour that he hands out at the banquet each year. The Joe Lane Hockey Development award is presented to a coach or official for the development of his/her players.

With all of the awards and accolades he has received, Lane said one is especially significant. In 2010, the Town of Port Aux Basques dedicated the multipurpose room in the Bruce II to him, calling it the ‘Joe Lane Room.’

“The one that’s closest to my heart is the room in the stadium. That’s where I walk in and out of every day. It’s my town. It’s where I served my 40 years, so it’s kind of hard to top that.”

Lane said hockey is something that has always been a passion for him.

“I think back on it, and I can remember all my coaches from my younger days. It’s paying it forward. Even now, the executive Brock Seaward who got an award. I coached Brock. Monique Organ who just won the female coach award. I coached Monique. It does me good knowing they are paying it forward like I am. That’s how the system works in my opinion. If you work in the system, you work with these kids, they will pay it forward down the line, and I see that.”

Lane said hockey brings lifelong camaraderie and friendships which is something that can never be taken away.

“The awards are great. It’s nice to be recognized, but at the end of the day, the biggest reward is seeing that you contributed to developing these young people to go back out into society. You had a part in developing their character.”

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