NHL Conflict of Interest? - Game 3 Referee Coached Mario Lemieux's Daughter

Stephen Walkom, one of the referees in the Ottawa-Pittsburgh game 3 debacle, used to coach (and maybe still does) minor hockey in the Pittsburgh area.  Four years ago, he was the coach of Stephanie Lemieux.  Mario Lemieux’s daughter.  Mario Lemieux is the former Hall of Fame Penguins centre and current  owner of the Penguins.

Apr 25, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center R.J. Umberger (18) runs into referee Stephen Walkom (24) during the third period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Blue Jackets defeated the Stars 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports



A reader shared a link to SenShot’s facebook page, and after reading it the article from the March 27, 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, you can put two and two together.  At the time (2009), Walkom was not an active official but was the League’s Director of Officiating.

He since returned to active duty and was one of the officials in the horribly officiated game between the Penguins and Senators on Sunday night where nobody knew what a penalty was.

I don’t want to question the integrity of a veteran official, but shouldn’t his off-ice relationship with Lemieux and the potential for conflict of interest make him recuse himself from officiating Pittsburgh games, or any game that might have implications for the Penguins?


This is something that the league and the individuals involved should be held accountable for.  It shows a prior relationship between two participants and after the performance of Walkom on the ice Sunday, the NHL has some explaining to do.



Tags: Conflict Of Interest NHL Officiating Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins Playoffs Stephen Walkom

  • McGrath

    You clearly have never discussed hockey with this ref. There is NOTHING more important to Walkom than ensuring the players have the opportunity to let their skill on any given game day decide the outcome of that day’s game. Using your logic, perhaps any ref born in Canada should be barred from working a game in which a Canadian team participates because, of course, that ref would be predisposed to want the Canadian team to win. You’ve made an absolutely ridiculous comment, displayed your ignorance of the individual involved, and owe Walkom an apology for even hinting that you question his integrity.

    • Hill-Gin

      Nobody owes him an apology, because even if he wasn’t biased, he is clearly incredibly incompetent. The game on Sunday had some of the worst officiating I’ve ever seen.

    • KevR

      If a ref that’s Canadian refs the game totally biased toward the Canadian team then I think, yes, he would also have some explaining to do. Walkom reffing in game three was too obviously one sided. I think the NHL should make ALL refs accountable for their calls instead of protecting them like they do (they dont even put their names on the backs of their jerseys anymore lol)

    • Waylander

      Walkom should not have been officiating that game, it’s a clear conflict of interest. The way that the game was called was a disgrace but what would you expect Sid the Squid is a special player he’s the NHL poster boy for now he makes them money the further The Pens go in the playoffs.
      The Ref should have made his relationship known to the league and recused himself but instead decided to go ahead therefore he is suspect and should be suspended for the remainder of the playoffs and investigated but we all know what will happen…..nothing.
      He does not deserve an apology this joker has proven by his actions and omissions that he is not trust worthy has no integrity and therefore owes us an apology.
      Your statement about Canadian refs doesn’t even deserve a response the league pays them so they get what they pay for I guess