As an NHL linesman, Dan Schachte prefers to toil in anonymity.
So when he set the mark for the most NHL games worked by an American official, the Madison, Wis., native preferred that it be kept quiet.
So much for keeping a secret.
Schachte eclipsed the mark set by long-time NHL linesman Kevin Collins during an early-season game played in Europe as part of the NHL’s 2011 Compuware Premiere series.
After matching Collins’ mark of 1,963 games on Oct. 7 in Stockholm, where the Los Angeles Kings played the New York Rangers, he broke it the following night in Berlin when the Kings played the Buffalo Sabres.
If not for a slip of the lip, the accomplishment could have been a Schachte family secret.
“The only person I really told is my wife [Kim],” said Schachte, who mentioned it to referee Marc Joannette during a cab ride to catch a charter flight from Stockholm to Berlin.
“All of a sudden, everybody is coming in and shaking my hand. It wasn’t meant to be like that.”
That’s pretty much the same sentiment Schachte has when he looks back at his impressive 30-year NHL resume that started on Oct. 4, 1982, at the old Chicago Stadium. Over the course of his career, Schachte has worked more than 200 playoff games, the 1991 Canada Cup, 1996 World Cup of Hockey, the 2002 Winter
Olympics and five Stanley Cup finals, including Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals between Colorado and New Jersey.
“For a snot-nosed kid from Madison who was 23 at the time, it was an amazing time,” said the man known as “Snook” by his friends. “If someone had told me that I would not only have been hired in the league but have lasted more than a couple of years, I would have said you’re crazy. I can’t even believe it’s been 30 years. You blink and it’s gone.”
Reaching the milestone was somewhat bittersweet because, like so many American officials, Schachte views Collins as someone the entire hockey world should look up to.
“What can you say about Kevin? He’s a Hall of Fame guy. He’s done so many things in hockey, so many things in the National Hockey League,” Schachte said.
“So just to be mentioned in the same breath as Kevin Collins means everything.”
And while the recognition and accolades are appreciated, Schachte knows that the profession is only as strong as the next generation that follows in his footsteps. That’s why, like so many American officials, he gives back to the game by working at USA Hockey officiating camps during the summer.
And while he shows no signs of slowing down, he looks forward to the day when another American official passes his mark and sets the bar even higher.
“Hopefully at some point in the future, another American official will have the opportunity to go past me,” Schachte said. “At the end of the day, that’s what this is all about,”
“I’ve had a great career and have been very lucky, but let’s be sure we get more [American] kids in there and give them the opportunity to do the same thing.”