By Ron Wicks
From the minors to the massive time, former NHL referee Ron Wicks recounts lifestyles off and on the ice.
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3 The referee was Frank Udvari and the linesman was George Hayes. To say I was nervous and excited would be a classic understatement. Here I was, fresh out of the Sudbury midget league, and now I was doing a big-league game. The stars went out of my eyes quickly when big “Moose” Vasko of the Black Hawks, who weighed about 225 pounds, got into a scrap with Tim Horton, who was the Leafs’ tough guy. Since I weighed about 150 pounds, I had to use my best powers of persuasion to get these combatants to proceed to the penalty box in an orderly fashion.
I didn’t know the next couple of weeks would alter my life forever. When I received my invitation to attend the NHL referees’ training camp, I was quite fortunate to know a long-time Boston Bruins star, Jerry Toppazzini, who worked in the off-season with my dad in the plumbing business in Sudbury. ) In those days, all players had summer jobs to supplement their hockey incomes. Salaries were not in the range they are today. A player’s average income was probably in the range of seven to ten thousand dollars a year.
On Sunday night, which was actually good for business, as Sunday was collection day on my route. This forced me to show up late Sunday night half frozen, with the Saturday weekend paper, and meant that I generally got good tips. This was my first venture into the sales field and was a great way to learn how to satisfy my customers, something I must have picked up on, as I’m still in real estate sales today. One of my customers was the Timmins fire chief, Bill Stanley, and we talked about his son, Allan, who was playing hockey in the NHL.