Cystic Fibrosis Storytime
Sparky McCloud Meets an NHL Referee

Sparky McCloud Meets A NHL Referee

by Sean Hunter

Sparky McCloud was about to meet someone special. It was Paul Stewart, one of the NHL’s best referees.

Paul grew up in Boston and at a very early age learned to skate wearing his sister’s white figure skates.

Paul loved hockey and whenever he could he skated and played the game.

Hockey was Paul’s dream. And in college, not only did Paul work extra hard at practice, he took extra jobs working at the ice rink. Sweeping the stands. Painting the seats. And driving the zamboni to make the new ice.


But Paul also remembered why he was at school. And faithfully Paul kept his commitment to complete his education.

When Paul had the opportunity to play professional hockey it was the beginning of a long hard journey.

Paul played for many different teams, in many different cities, and was always eager to learn.

Whenever Paul could he would watch other teams practice and play. He would study how other athletes trained and look for more ways to be a better teammate.

Then one night the Quebec Nordiques needed someone immediately who could govern the leagues toughest players.

It was Thanksgiving night and Paul arrived in Boston, ready to play in his first NHL game and face the mighty Boston Bruins.

There was no fiercer team than the Boston Bruins. And quickly their players challenged Paul’s courage. But Paul didn’t fade or fail as he fearlessly battled Stan Jonathan, Al Secord and the legendary champion, Terry O’Reilly.


Paul did his job well, and when Paul retired as a player he wanted to continue his career in hockey as a referee.

Quickly, Paul showed his skills and abilities. Paul refereed his first NHL game at Boston Garden. And soon after that, as the whole hockey world watched, Paul flawlessly refereed one of the most important games of the Canada Cup.

Paul continued working hard and each time he put on his referee shirt he wore it with pride, always remembering the reason for the black and white strips.

For a referee there is no gray area in any of his responsibilities.

A referee is given a great trust.

They must always be fair. Apply all rules without variation or omission. And most importantly, at all times, and in all circumstances, ensure the safety of each player.

Then on the morning of February 23rd, 1998 Paul was told that he was seriously ill with cancer.


Paul had known many battles but this would be his toughest challenge. And thankfully, with the help of his doctors and the prayers of his family, friends and strangers, Paul survived.

The cancer that Paul faced was cruel. It didn’t know that Paul was someone who had never been selfish. That always found the time to ask a young fan how they were doing in school. And who never hesitated to ask someone in need if there was a way that he could help.

Now when Paul visited children in hospitals he was one of them. He knew what it was like to be in those beds, and to be treated by the doctors and nurses. He knew what it was like to ask and wonder what might be next. But Paul never gave up. Never for one moment did Paul not believe that he would once again walk into his own home, be with his family, and return to the game that had guided his dreams.

Paul Stewart was one of Sparky’s heroes. Not because Paul was a professional athlete and a NHL referee, but because Paul had a special love for people.

Paul generously gave back to the community, always trying to find a way to help others succeed, offering hope and providing dignity.

Everyday Paul honored the values that his father and mother had given him.

Never was Paul afraid to do what was right. Paul was grateful for what he had, and thankful that each day he could be a friend.

© Sean Hunter 2003


Talk And Discover
an opportunity for coaches, parents and children
to enjoy together

♣ How do you treat someone with dignity and make sure that it is something that is not taken away?

♣ What do you have to be grateful for –
and how do you show your appreciation?

♣ What are some of the ways that you can help others succeed?

♣ What are some of the ways that you can be a role model?

♣ What are some of your dreams?

♣ What dreams do you have for someone else?

♣ What are some of the values that your family has given you?

♣ What are some of the ways that sports helps you to be a better person?


Significant Dates for Paul Stewart

Nov 22nd 1979 - played in his first NHL game
March 23rd 1980 - scored first NHL goal
March 27th 1987 - refereed first NHL game
February 22nd 1998 - son McCauley born
February 23rd 1998 - diagnosed with cancer
November 13th 1998 - returned to referee in NHL
February 6th 1999
inducted into Binghamton Hockey Hall of Fame
October 1st 2001 - son Maxwell born
March 15th 2003 - refereed 1,000th NHL game

Number worn as NHL referee - 22

graduate of
Groton School
University of Pennsylvania

grandfather - Bill Stewart
played for Chicago White Sox
major league baseball umpire and NHL referee
coached 1938 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champions

Direct download: MASTER_-_R_-_final_-_Sparky_McCloud_-_Meets_A_NHL_Referee.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:38pm EDT