Danny Kurmann, a director of the IIHF Officiating Committee, paid a quick visit to Russia last week. He took the chance to see a couple of playoff games in Moscow and St. Petersburg and met with the KHL’s chief referee, Alexei Anisimov, and Mikhail Karpushin, head of the Russian Hockey Federation’s officiating department.

KHL.ru caught up with the Swiss official to find out more about his trip.

- Was this your first time watching a KHL game?

- Yes, the game between CSKA and Dynamo was my first in the KHL. I was very impressed by the quality of the game, how clean and fast it was. Officials were treated with respect from players and coaches. Overall I was very satisfied with what I saw, and with Russian hockey in general.

- What brings you to Russia, and why did you want to come now, during the playoffs?

- There are two reasons. Reason number one is our ice hockey officials academy. That’s why I am meeting with Alexei Anisimov, explaining and introducing this idea. The Russian Hockey Federation knows about this plan and is very supportive. Another reason to see some playoff games is to nominate the officials for the World Championships, which are right around the corner.

- What did you think of the game itself, the atmosphere in the arena?

- It’s quite different from play-off games in Switzerland, for example, where I worked for many years. In Switzerland the quality of hockey is not as good as in the KHL. From what I saw in Moscow, the KHL has a good, clean, high level game, just very good hockey. In Switzerland maybe it’s more of a show, the audience is very loud and more emotional. These are the main differences.

- How many more games are you planning to attend?

- Next week I will go to Czech Republic to see a couple of games there. After that, Finland and Sweden,

- What did you thin of the officials at yesterday’s game?

- I was very impressed with how they worked the game. High quality officiating. I know these officials personally. For example, I’ve known Roman Gofman for many years. I know he is a very good referee and he did great job last night. We met most recently at the camp in Novogorsk back in the summer. I liked what I saw there as well. Russian officials are very good so I am very happy and proud to work with them. They know the game, they work on a high level and they are just great guys. Alexei Anisimov does a great job leading them. I’m very impressed so far.

- Did you have the chance to talk to the referees who officiated last night’s game?

- Yes, we went to the locker room after the game and we had a little chat. Two of them are going to the World Championship and another is going to the U18 Worlds. It was great to meet the guys, I was happy to see them.

- Does it feel that standards of officiating are improving in the KHL at the moment?

- For sure. From what I saw at the camp in Novogorsk to yesterday’s game. They train really hard, they are very professional, very good skaters. Also, they are big hockey fans - that’s very important. I am really happy with what I’ve seen and I hope that other countries will take notes from Russia. Also, of course, they have good hockey to work with, that really helps.

Now we want to launch this idea of an officiating academy so we can bring it to the next level and have all the top international referees come together and work as a team. That is the plan and it’s a great opportunity for every hockey country.

- Is it fair to say that the KHL has some of the best officials in Europe right now?

- I would say so. In Sweden and Finland, they also have good officials, and in Russia there are great referees, some of the best in Europe for sure.

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