Sports Now

Sports news from Los Angeles and beyond

« Previous Post | Sports Now Home | Next Post »

Swedish hockey official will work Tuesday's Ducks-Stars game

November 15, 2010 |  1:16 pm

Untitled-4 Sweden has made its mark on the NHL with such standout players as Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Mattias Norstrom, who was recently honored by the Kings.

Now Sweden will make another mark.

Marcus Vinnerborg is the first European-trained official to be hired by the NHL and on Tuesday night in Dallas will work his first NHL game when the Stars host the Ducks.

The 37-year-old from Ljungby, Sweden, has worked in Sweden's Elitserien, the country's top professional league, since 2000. He will co-referee with Paul Devorski. The two officiated at the Vancouver Olympics.

On Wednesday, Vinnerborg will be in Colorado to officiate the Avalanche-Sharks game along with Stephen Walkom.

"You can't set this as a goal for yourself because until now the NHL has been a closed world to European officials," Vinnerborg said in an interview with "I feel fortunate to get this opportunity and to be appreciated by them."

The former International Ice Hockey Federation referee has been working games in the American Hockey League to prepare for this move.

Terry Gregson, NHL senior vice president and director of officials, has been watching Vinnerborg's work for some time.

"I first saw Marcus officiate a game in 2005 and have been watching him ever since, including in Vancouver," Gregson said at the time of Vinnerborg's hiring last May. "He meshes extremely well on blended crews for world championships and Olympics. Plus, he is a quality person. His knowledge of the North American game and his work ethic and professionalism will make him a positive addition to the NHL staff.

"Marcus had a big call in overtime of that 2008 gold-medal game that had to be called," said Gregson, recalling a game that Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk subsequently won on a power-play goal in overtime. "He has the mind-set to do the right thing in a game."

-- Debbie Goffa