Mick McGeough, NHL referee for 21 seasons, dies at 62

Former NHL referee Mick McGeough has died at 62.

The NHL said in a statement Saturday that McGeough died Friday night in Regina, Saskatchewan. A fundraiser to support his family said he had a stroke a week ago.

McGeough worked 21 seasons from 1987 through 2008, refereeing 1,083 regular-season games and 63 playoff games. He was one of the last referees to officiate without a helmet. Most recently, he worked as an NHL officiating supervisor

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called him "one of the league's top referees" whose "passion for the game shone through on a nightly basis." Bettman added in a statement that McGeough earned leaguewide respect for his "unique style that that combined humility and humor with decisiveness and fairness."

"Mick was one of the true characters of our game and we will miss him immeasurably," the NHL Officials' Association said in a statement. "Throughout his 21 year on-ice career and subsequent management role, Mick was always known for his wit, humour and ability to tell a great story. He reminded us constantly that hockey, even at the highest level, is meant to be fun and he leaves us a hole that can never be filled."

He is survived by his wife, Angie, and five children: Jared, Luke, Kara, Karlie and Isaac.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.