The journey of a young linesman, and his path to leadership
By Shea Johnston
Love them or hate them, on-ice officials are an integral part of hockey. While referees get most of the attention, linesmen are equally as important, and have come to be known in many circles as the managers of the game. In short, linesmen are leaders.
One such leader is Barna Kis- Király, a Hungarian linesman that has made the trip across the pond to take part in this year's annual Mac's Midget AAA Tournament.
Kis-Király, began officiating at an early age - 15, to be exact. All the while playing for the Hungarian U18 team that has taken part in this year's tournament.
"I wasn't a very good player," Kis- Király explained. "An official came to me after a game and said "why don't you try to be a ref?"
"I liked the idea to stick around hockey. So that was the beginning, actually."
Linesmen have the ability to control the pace of the game, and while they do not have the authority to call penalties, they do have a say - when required - in what gets called.
They are another set of eyes on the ice, and are, in some cases, able to see things more clearly than the referees.
While some qualities of an official like Kis-Király seem obvious - such as knowledge of the rules, ability to work as part of a team, skating ability,
etc. - some qualities are more abstract and harder to define. Yet without them, a linesman wouldn't be a linesman at all.
Living under the belief that hockey is a sport to be enjoyed by all, at any level, Kis-Király spoke with conviction when asked what kind of leader he believes himself to be on the ice,
"This is my life," Kis-Király said passionately, "and I believe that when you make friends in hockey they are friends for life, so I want my friends out there to have a clean game and not to get hurt."
Kis-Király's positive approach to officiating could be considered a breath of fresh air by some, as of- ten times the stripes on an official's sweater can turn into crosshairs when a call or two goes unnoticed.
"Referees didn't have a big impact on me before I began officiating," Kis-Király continued. "I played pretty rough when I was about 15, but after I got a sense of how I was impacting the game after I started reffing, I left that behind and became a clean player."
Calling nearly 20 games a month, including past experience in the IIHF World Junior Championship and professional leagues across Europe, Kis-Király is a man constantly on the move, and while that does impact him mentally, he is convicted in his belief that this is what he is meant to do.
"I feel energized all the time, more balanced in life, and feel more open to everything - especially coming here. Just me. "It was a big chance in my mind, but I had to take it. It was a great opportunity."
Armed with knowledge and a love for the game, it is people like Kis- Király that perfectly personify the international language that is hockey, and the theme of leadership that this year's Mac's tournament has adopted.
Followed by an air of confidence, the not so hot player turned linesman, Kis-Király, believes that it isn't skill that creates leaders, but passion.
"Just do what you love. It doesn't matter what level you play if you don't love it, so if you're not going to play pro, that isn't a problem. Just do what you love. That's what I do, as well."