By Tim Robinson
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
• February 14, 2010
BRIGHTON — As a referee in the National Hockey League, Dan O'Halloran has to be ready for the unexpected.
But even a wily veteran can be outsmarted by his wife, which was the case Friday night when she threw a surprise party for him in honor of his being selected as a referee to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"She pulls these things out every once in a while," he said with a grin after the shock had worn off. "She did this for my 40th (birthday, in 2004). It was after an afternoon game at Joe Louis Arena and I thought there would be a few friends and family at the house. I got home, and the whole house is packed with people."O'Halloran, a Brighton resident who has been an NHL referee since 1995, leaves for Vancouver early today with wife Michelle, who will be spending the two weeks of the Olympic hockey tournament with him.
The news, she said Friday night, was a long time coming.
"We thought it would happen after training camp in September," she said. "But they kept us waiting for a long time after that."
O'Halloran finally got the news via an e-mail from the NHL in mid-December, but said after the initial excitement he didn't really think about it until this week.
"I've tried to stay grounded and focused on the games," he said. "It's been a busy schedule. The players have a busy schedule, but half of their games are at home, where all of my games are on the road. So it's been real busy, and you try to focus on your games in the NHL, because they're more important to the teams as the season goes along. But now I can concentrate on the tournament and gear up for that."
O'Halloran, a naturalized American citizen who grew up southeast of Windsor, Ontario, has worked the Stanley Cup finals twice."This is a very big honor for me to be selected," he said. "You're selected based on a couple of different things. First of all, on your ability, and your nationality. It ranks right up there. You reach the highest plateau with the Stanley Cup in the NHL, and international action it's their highest plateau. So it ranks right up there."
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