How much are NHL Referees Paid in 2022? (Full Guide)

Ice Hockey is one of the most physically demanding sports, and referees are often the target of physical and verbal abuse from players and fans alike. The job of an NHL referee is truly a difficult one as they need to make several split-second decisions on their own without any help or support from anyone else.

There are currently 35 full-time referees in the National Hockey League (NHL), and each one of them earns an average salary between $165,000 to $360,000. Referees are paid according to their tenure and experience in the league. The referees are represented by the National Hockey League Officials Association (NHLOA), the labor union for on-ice officials. 

Read more in this article for information about salaries for NHL referees.

How much are NHL Referees Paid in 2022?

Hockey has always been a part of the lives of those who grew up with it. Many children play ‘street hockey as their first introduction to the game, and then if they feel it is for them, continue playing on proper ice rinks.

Referees (on-ice officials) start as off-ice officials and work their way up to the ice. Hockey is a very physical game, and those who officiate it must be at the top of their physical shape and sport-specific and rule book knowledge and awareness.

NHL referees can earn as much as $360,000 per year on average, but the salary depends on the time spent in the league and official performance during the season. The average salary for referees in the National Hockey League is usually between $165,000 and $360,000 but can fluctuate depending on how good they are at their job. Compared to other occupations, the salary of an NHL referee is sufficient; however, it is much less than other professions.

The National Hockey League Referees Association (NHL) is the labor union that represents professional NHL referees. The association negotiates with the league management committee for new contracts, better salaries, and improved officiating work conditions. 

How much money does an NHL referee make per game?

NHL is a professional sports league, and the referees are professional too. Of course, they need to be paid well. But how much money do NHL referees make per game? NHL referees get paid depending on how many years of experience a referee has in officiating an NHL game.

The bigger the game, the more money referees get paid. For example, suppose an NHL referee officiates an important Stanley Cup playoff game or a regular-season game. In that case, he will get paid way more than for just another regular-season game. The same goes for referees who have less experience in officiating NHL games. A rookie ref has to work his way up to the upper salary.

Salaries for referees in the playoffs are likewise not paid annually but rather according to the referees’ matches. So, when the entire incentive is split, the referees collect roughly $18,000 each match in those cases. Linemen in the NHL, on the other hand, earn roughly $12,000 per year.

NHL referees are compensated per game, with the salary dependent on more than a decade of service. The more experience an NHL referee has, the more he will make for officiating each game.

Is the compensation for ice hockey referees in minor leagues different from that of NHL referees?

Minor leagues and NHL has different rules. NHL officials are paid by the league, while minor league officials may be paid by the league and the teams they work for.

As you might assume, Amateur NHL officials make far less than professional NHL refs. Youth and other recreational hockey league referees are paid between $30 to $75 per game, which normally lasts 60 minutes on the rink. Furthermore, overtime is infrequent in minor league games. Officials in minor leagues who have NHL contracts but may play most of their games in the AHL get much less money. In the AHL, referees make between $75,000 and $100,000 per year, while linesmen earn between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.

In the minor league, a referee is paid by a contract he/she has with a certain league. Referees receive a pre-determined fee for each game they officiate, plus pay per kilometer on top of that amount. In some leagues, referees are also compensated with lodging and meals. Some minor leagues reward top referees by paying them a monthly salary.

There is a difference between the minor league and the NHL referees in sports like football and basketball. Minor league hockey referees are normally less experienced than their professional counterparts. The salary of youth hockey league referees is also much lower than that of professional referees. Both minor league and professional hockey referees are paid per game, although NHL officials receive a higher payment than their minor league counterparts.

Do NHL referees have a pension?

There are pension benefits for NHL officials and referees provided by the National Hockey League Officials Association (NHLOA).

The NHL will contribute 13.5 percent of its salary payroll to the National Hockey League Officials’ Pension Plan under the terms of the agreement. On a similar basis, contributions will be distributed to each individual official. A joint administration committee created in line with the applicable US and Canadian legislation oversees the Officials’ Pension Plan.

The pension provided to NHL officials and referees by the National Hockey League Officials Association (NHLOA) is an element of the compensation package. The NHLOA is a non-profit organization that negotiates the salaries and benefits for its members.

Who is the highest-paid NHL referee?

Being an NHL referee is hard work. They work long hours, travel with the team on road trips, and maintain peak physical condition. While they are not in the limelight like some of their colleagues who carry sticks on the ice, NHL referees also know there is no hockey game without them. That’s why when it comes time for contract negotiations, hockey officials aren’t afraid to ask for a hefty raise.

Referees who are the finest earn up to $300,000. Referee Vern Buffey is another name that comes to mind while discussing this. In the same year as Frank Udvari, he was the one who earned nearly $13,000.

NHL referees and linesmen are the only officials in hockey who do not belong to a union, so they negotiate their contracts individually with each league. When it comes time for renewal, both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Officials Association (NHLOA) sit down with each official and discuss the terms of their new contracts.

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