Trailblazers are those who take the harder path and create trails for others to follow through difficult terrain when the journey to the destination seems impossible. Paul Stewart is just that! A visionary and a major supporter of diversity in hockey, he’s let the world know that has a very big goal for the next phase of his impressive hockey career. The legacy he wants to leave behind is getting women ahead, and help them follow in his footsteps and officiate in the NHL.
Last month, Stewart was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and took the opportunity while having the media’s attention to announce that Katie Guay a female hockey referee, will be ref’ing the Beanpot tournament in Boston that takes place next month. Stewart himself has refereed 1,010 NHL regular-season games, 49 Stanley Cup playoff games and two NHL All-Star Games, all throughout which he never wore a helmet. He was happy to say he helped Guay along the way to get to where she is and on the verge of breaking the gender-based barrier professional sports have put up.
Guay reff’d in the Southern Professional Hockey League. And they have set the standard when it comes to advancing women in hockey. One team in particular, Columbus Cottonmouths that’s also owned by a woman, Ms. Wanda Amos, was the first SPHL team to put a female player on their roster. Last season, goalie Shannon Szabados put on the pads for the team. This past November, the team also hosted the first female officials in the SPHL in honour of their annual Hockey and Heels/Girl Scout Night.
Guay at the moment officiates women’s college hockey full-time in Hockey East and the ECAC leagues. Aborad, she did the 2014 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. And she was selected to referee the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship that was held in Malmo, Sweden.
“I want to see someone break that glass ceiling,” Stewart said to media on his induction day. “It doesn’t take an X or Y chromosome to put your arm in the air and call a penalty. It only takes brains and guts. And that’s it. My next goal is to have lots of great women officiating.”
Stewart logged minutes in both the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League. He even played alongside Mark Messier with the Cincinnati Stingers. But his last season of pro hockey was almost 4 decades ago, in the 1979–80 season with the then-existing Quebec Nordiques.
Right after he made the move from player to referee and has had a fruitful and long career in the NHL. He officiated 1,010 regular season games, 49 playoff games, the 1987 Canada Cup, the 1991 Canada Cup and two All-Star games. He never wore a helmet in his officiating career.