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.