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7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT …

Black/Toby

1. WE'VE BEEN ON THE OTHER SIDE … "We all played at one point, and some, like Wes McCauley and Scott Cherrey, reached the pros. Now our playing is mostly limited to training camp, when we break into teams and battle it out. We ref the games ourselves, but it's still some of the dirtiest hockey I've ever seen."

2. … AND WE TRAIN LIKE WE'RE STILL THERE. "There's a killer fitness test in camp, and if you don't pass, you don't work. The game is so fast, you need to be durable, so most guys focus on the core. But some linesmen lift for bulk, too, for when they have to break up fights."

3. HAZARDS ABOUND. "Don Van Massenhoven took a slap shot to the face one year and had to have it reconstructed with metal plates. The worst I've had is concussions and bruised ribs. You're not supposed to get hit, so when it happens, it's always unexpected."

4. WE KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO. "Before each game, we study lineups and history to see if there was a fight or a big hit in the last meeting. And when a guy like Sidney Crosby is playing, the other team will do just about anything to stop him. He doesn't get preferential treatment, but it is something we have to be aware of."

5. Coaches talk the talk … "Coaches argue better than players. Some would make great lawyers. Steve Ludzik and Bob Hartley were the best. I know they were trying to get their teams fired up, but they didn't know when to stop. At some point, we have to agree to disagree. And if we can't, I call a penalty on them."

6. … BUT FANS TALK IT BETTER … "Refs are always the visiting team, and fans let you know how they feel. At my first game, in Buffalo, Scott Driscoll got hurt, and I replaced him. Kerry Fraser and I look similar, so when I got on the ice, a fan yelled, 'Fraser, you suck!' I hadn't started, and already I was being heckled!"

7. … AND SOMETIMES THEY'RE RIGHT. "A few years ago in Dallas, I lost sight of the puck during a scramble behind the net. I blew the whistle, which took away the Stars' game-winning goal. I saw later that I was completely wrong, but there was nothing I could do. I made the call I thought was right at the time."