Regina ref­eree hon­ours his fa­ther

Ref­eree pays trib­ute to his much-loved, colour­ful fa­ther dur­ing Pat Cana­di­ans game

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - GREG HARDER

He was a ref, but he’d be way more proud of me be­ing a good dad and a good hus­band and a good per­son in gen­eral.

Luke Mc­geough was driv­ing home from Cal­gary when he got a call that would send him down a dark and un­fa­mil­iar road.

Mc­geough was in­formed that his fa­ther, Mick — the colour­ful and beloved for­mer NHL ref­eree — had been hos­pi­tal­ized due to an ap­par­ent stroke.

While re­fus­ing to con­sider the un­think­able, Luke had a lot of time to re­flect as he nav­i­gated the lonely stretch of high­way be­tween Cal­gary and Regina. It also put some things in per­spec­tive for the young ref­eree, who came up with an idea to hon­our his men­tor.

“I thought about it as I was driv­ing back,” he re­called. “I told my sis­ter, ‘I re­ally want to do a game in Regina, and I want to wear one of dad’s jer­seys.’ But I said, ‘We’ll wait un­til he gets out of the hos­pi­tal so he can see it.’”

Un­for­tu­nately, Mick never did get out of the hos­pi­tal. The 62-year-old Regi­nan died a few days later — on the night of Nov. 23 — af­ter the de­ci­sion was made to re­move him from life sup­port.

Need­less to say, it has been a long cou­ple of weeks since Luke said good­bye to his fa­ther.

Each day is a chal­lenge while com­ing to grips with the sud­den loss, but he con­tin­ues to forge ahead know­ing that’s the way Mick would want it.

“It’s part of life,” Luke said. “It’s a shitty part of life, but a part of life.”

In the midst of the griev­ing process, Luke checked his officiating sched­ule and real­ized he had been as­signed to a Saskatchewan Mid­get AAA Hockey League game be­tween the Regina Pat Cana­di­ans and Moose Jaw Gen­er­als.

Mick once played for the Pat Cana­di­ans, wear­ing the cap­tain’s C, back in the early 1970s.

The stars couldn’t have aligned more per­fectly for Luke, who re­ceived per­mis­sion to wear one of his dad’s old NHL jer­seys for the game on Wed­nes­day at the Co-op­er­a­tors Cen­tre.

When it ended, Luke left the ice with a huge smile on his face af­ter a 3-0 Pat C’s vic­tory.

“To be hon­est, since it hap­pened, I had a re­ally tough time,” Luke said of his fa­ther’s death. “I don’t know if it re­ally hit me (right away). It’s like I’ve been al­most numb. But it kind of hit me when we were stand­ing there do­ing the na­tional an­them ( be­fore the game) and when I first put on the jersey.”

Al­though his dad couldn’t at­tend as orig­i­nally planned, there was a pre­vail­ing sense that he was watch­ing from above.

“I just hope he’d be proud of me,” Luke con­tin­ued. “My wife was like, ‘He’ll be proud of the way you reffed ei­ther way.’ I said, ‘That wasn’t re­ally Mick’s thing.’ He was a ref, but he’d be way more proud of me be­ing a good dad — he just loved the grand­kids — and a good hus­band and a good per­son in gen­eral.

“Mick could care less if I was an aw­ful of­fi­cial as long as I’m do­ing right by ev­ery­one else.”

Luke is try­ing to live by those words as he moves on with­out Mick, who in re­cent years had tran­si­tioned into much more than just a fa­ther fig­ure.

They be­came “best bud­dies.” “That was the worst part for me, not just los­ing my dad but one of my best friends,” said Luke.

“We kind of have a strange fam­ily dy­namic with my dad re­mar­ry­ing and hav­ing two kids. I kind of told them all when we were in (the hos­pi­tal), ‘Lis­ten, we have to look out for each other now.’ My fo­cus is on the whole fam­ily. I don’t have time to sit around and piss and moan. I have two broth­ers and two sis­ters that I need to help look af­ter. That’s where I’m at right now.”

At the same time, Luke will con­tinue to hon­our his dad ev­ery time he steps on the ice. The 35-year-old only be­gan ref­er­ee­ing last year and has al­ready worked his way up to as­sign­ments at the se­nior, mid­get AAA and junior B lev­els.

“I have twin girls (two-year-old Oak­lin and Avery) so I had to pay for day­care some­how,” said Luke, who works full time at the re­fin­ery.

“I started reff­ing and I fell in love with it. To be hon­est I don’t know where it’s go­ing to go for me. I’m not 20 years old any­more. I’m not naive to think I re­ally have a chance to go too far with it but at the end of the day I just like work­ing with young guys.

“I can’t teach them too much about the rules but I have a lit­tle bit of a flair for the dra­matic and I’m good with coaches and play­ers. If I can pass some of that along, I’d be pleased as punch. I hope in the end guys just like work­ing with me and look at me as a lit­tle bit of a men­tor.”

If that sounds fa­mil­iar, it should.

Mick was a charis­matic of­fi­cial and a men­tor to count­less young ref­er­ees.

He was also well known as a fun-lov­ing sto­ry­teller and the life of the party — a rep­u­ta­tion Luke has earned on his own merit.

“I was telling my sis­ter one day when we were in the hos­pi­tal, ‘All those times peo­ple said, ‘You’re one ap­ple that didn’t fall too far from the tree,’ I would al­ways be like, ‘You think that lit­tle of me?’” he said with a laugh. “But in­side it was al­ways such a deadly com­pli­ment. Se­cretly I was giv­ing a fist pump.”

Not only did Luke in­herit some of Mick’s per­son­al­ity traits, he has also adopted a few style points on the ice. He even caught him­self mim­ick­ing the famed “he­li­copter” while em­phat­i­cally wav­ing off a goal dur­ing a re­cent game in Ray­more.

“I did about eight pumps and didn’t re­al­ize un­til af­ter I did it, so I do catch my­self do­ing the odd Mick­ism,” he said with smile. “I’m kind of just en­joy­ing the ride.

“I love be­ing on the ice. I don’t play much any­more — I just play rec. This is a way for me to get out. The day I hate com­ing to the rink is the day I quit. I haven’t started hat­ing it yet.”

Like fa­ther, like son.

BRUCE BEN­NETT/GETTY IM­AGES.

Mick Mc­geough is shown ref­er­ee­ing Game 3 of the 2006 Stan­ley Cup fi­nal. The Regina na­tive died of a stroke last month at 62.

GREG HARDER

Luke Mc­geough wore the NHL jersey of his late fa­ther, for­mer NHL ref­eree Mick Mc­geough, at the Co-op­er­a­tors Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day.

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