Former NHL referee Michael “Mick” McGeough will be removed from life support on Friday night, after he suffered a stroke and the damage was deemed “irreversible.”
The Regina-born retired official was hospitalized after showing early signs of a stroke on Sunday. He was then flown to Saskatoon, where a neurosurgeon determined the blood clots in McGeough’s brain couldn’t be removed.
Tim McGeough told 650 CKOM his brother was back in Regina, surrounded by family, and in a medically-induced coma.
A breathing tube will be removed Friday night, after which point it’s expected McGeough will pass away.
“It’s been real difficult,” Tim said. “Mick’s been the glue. I can’t even grasp him not being there at all these family events we have.”
McGeough, now 62, began his NHL officiating career in 1987 and ended up being one of the last referees to not wear a helmet in the league.
He refereed 1,083 regular season games and 63 playoff games — including the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.
He retired in 2008 and was inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
McGeough’s brother said he commanded the respect of players, even if there were calls they disagreed with.
“When the game was over, it was over,” Tim said. “He could sit down and have a coffee or a beer with any of the players at any given time … it was nice to see the respect both ways.”
Players, coaches, fellow officials and sports media have been reaching out to McGeough’s family to offer their best wishes and support since the stroke.
“He touched a lot of lives,” his brother said.
McGeough was legendary among hockey minds for both his “grumpiness” and sense of humour.
Green Zone hockey analyst and former San Jose Sharks assistant coach Drew Remenda said “he was one of the good ones.”
“He’s one of those referees who had rapport with players,” Remenda said. “He’s one of those referees that would talk to guys out there and go talk to the coaches.”
Remenda said he’ll always remember a game when he was upset Ron Hextall wasn’t called for a high stick against a Sharks player by McGeough.
“I’m screaming and yelling from the bench, and Mick McGeough skates over and says to (head coach George Kingston) ‘tell him to shut up,'” Remenda recalled. “As Mick skates away, I’m yelling at him ‘you bleeping tell me to shut up,’ so he stops and skates back over to the bench, gets right in front of me and says ‘SHUT UP.'”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the expenses related to McGeough’s emergency transportation between Regina and Saskatoon.