NHL referee Dean Morton calls it a career

Morty hangs them up.

Veteran umpire Dean Morton will officiate his final National Hockey League game on Saturday. He will retire at the end of the season.

Morton’s curtain call will come as the Calgary Flames host the Detroit Red Wings. will take to the ice for his final game alongside referee Brad Meier and linesmen David Brisebois and Brad Kovachik. Don Van Massenhoven will be responsible for the referees. Meier is also retiring at the end of the season.

The dispatch began earlier this season as the teams worked their final games under Morton.

The Petersborough native is the only current NHL official to have played in the National Hockey League. Morton, a defenseman, scored a goal in his only game with the Detroit Red Wings, assisted by Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman.

He made his NHL debut as a referee on November 11, 2000, working a game between the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders.

Morton recently played his 1,000th NHL game at Buffalo. From the NHLOA:

Morton had a successful playing career. The homebody defenseman who liked to play a tough style of hockey played 3 seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 1985 to 1988. With the exception of his first 15 games with the Ottawa 67s (1985- 86), the hard-hitting defenseman played his entire major junior career with the Oshawa Generals, reaching the Memorial Cup in his second year (1987). The Detroit Red Wings selected him in the eighth round, 148th overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. Morton, turned pro in 1988 after his junior days were over when he joined the Red Wings’ minor league affiliate, the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League (AHL), helping the team win the championship from the 1988 Calder Cup to his first season.

The following fall, after having an excellent training camp in Detroit where his physical play was noticed, Morton took a break when he managed to crack the roster of six defenders to start the season with the big club. On the first day of the 1989-90 NHL season (October 5, 1989), “Mortee” made his NHL debut as a player at the Calgary Saddledome wearing the No. 5 jersey with the Detroit Red Wings, facing the Flames who had just won the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1989. The Red Wings would lose that game 10-7 to Barn-burner, but the native of Peterborough, Ontario made history that night by becoming only the third player in NHL history at the time to score a goal in his first game of the NHL regular season. It would be his one and only NHL game as a player. He was sent to miners after the initial trip and never returned to Motor City. He spent the next three seasons between the American Hockey League (AHL), the defunct International Hockey League (IHL), the ECHL and the Colonial Hockey League (CoHL) where he retired in 1993 with the Brantford Smoke.

During his last season as a professional hockey player, Morton was told by a few officials that he should attend the North American Officiating School this summer and trade in his stick for a whistle. He went on and attended the clinic that summer (1993) and quickly caught the eye of supervisors Willy Norris (NHL) and Ken Bodendistel (OHL/CHL) that weekend. From there, he was asked to start working on the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) lines for the upcoming season. Dean spent the next 3 years working on games throughout the province of Ontario as a linesman. The American Hockey League (AHL) hired him part-time in the fall of 1996 to work as a linesman while continuing to work in the OHL and OHA. He would eventually make it to the Calder Cup Finals that year between the Hershey Bears and Hamilton Bulldogs.

The summer of 1998 would change his career as an official when the OHL asked him to wear the orange stripes on a trial basis. Morton accepted the challenge and went from linesman to referee in the OHL that season. Morton not only enjoyed his new role in the game, but his natural talent was quickly recognized when he was selected that same year to make the league finals. NHL On-ice Officials Supervisor Dave Newell, who attended the Spring Championship Series, approached him shortly after that year and offered him the opportunity to join the NHL Internship Program. the now defunct NHL for the following season. He would spend the 1999-2000 season as an NHL intern working in various leagues across North America, including the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (LHJMQ), the Western Professional Hockey League ( WPHL) and the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL). The National Hockey League offered him a minor league referee contract in the summer of 2000.

Just over 11 years after making his NHL debut as a player, Morton returned to the NHL, but this time as a referee on November 11, 2000 when he appeared in a game between the Sharks of San Jose and the New York Islanders at the old Nassau Veteran Memorial Arena in Uniondale, NY. He spent a total of 8 seasons under minor league status before being promoted to a full-time NHL position in the summer of 2008. He also made his post-season NHL debut on the 17th April 2014 in Denver, CO when the Minnesota Wild were in town to play the Avalanche. Morton was also selected in 2019 to play in the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose, Calif.

Morton spoke with Hometown PTBO’s Pete Dalliday about his career earlier this month:

Congratulations to umpire Dean Morton on a terrific career – all the best in retirement!

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