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Referee Stephen Walkom talks with Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets in this 2011 file photo (Associated Press)

Referee Stephen Walkom talks with Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets in this 2011 file photo

(Associated Press)

Stephen Walkom returns as NHL’s director of officiating Add to ...

Terry Gregson retired as the NHL’s director of officiating on Wednesday and will be succeeded by his predecessor, Stephen Walkom.

It may seem unconventional but Walkom, 49, begged out of his former job in 2009 in order to return to the ice as a referee. Four years later, after Gregson decided to retire, Walkom agreed to return to his old post to oversee the NHL’s referees and linesmen. Gregson will remain as a consultant to the league and work on the NHL’s participation in the Sochi Olympics.

“We are fortunate to have someone with [Walkom’s] on– and off-ice experience ready to step in to this position,” NHL senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. “From 2005 to 2009, Stephen provided tremendous direction and guidance to our team of officials as the league implemented several rule changes that brought more flow and speed to our game. That management experience, combined with the fact that he has been back on the ice as a referee for the last four years, will be of tremendous benefit to the League and the game.”

Gregson, 59, retired from a 25-year career as an NHL referee in 2005 and joined the NHL’s hockey department as a supervisor of officials. He took over from Walkom in 2009 as the director of officiating.

During his 1,427 regular-season games and 158 playoff games, Gregson worked eight Stanley Cup finals. He also had two stints as president of the NHL Officials’ Association, from 1989 to 1994 and from 1996 to 2000.

“Terry had the unique ability to expertly manage the 78-man NHL officiating team,” Campbell said. “His tireless efforts behind the scenes to ensure that NHL officiating was the best it could be on a nightly basis were seldom recognized publicly, but we greatly appreciate his dedication to the game both on and off the ice for the past 33 years. We are also pleased that he has agreed to continue to work with the officiating department on various projects.”

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