Jay Sharrers was born in New Westminster and raised in Hope, BC and like many officials, started out with dreams of making the NHL as a player. However, by age 15 he realized he’d need to take a different path, so he started working in junior hockey and the minor leagues before eventually being hired by the NHL.
Sharrers made NHL history on Oct. 6, 1990, when he stepped onto the ice at Boston Garden for a game between the Boston Bruins and Quebec Nordiques. The 22-year-old became the first black official ever to work in the NHL. He worked as an NHL linesman throughout the 1990s, then decided to try his hand at being a referee, meaning that he’d have to go back to the minors and work his way back to the NHL. Once he returned, he then became the first black referee in NHL history on April 3, 2001, when he worked a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers in Philadelphia.
Sharrers worked 136 NHL games as a referee before deciding to return as a linesman. He remained in the NHL through 2016 but suffered a hip injury that forced him to retire. By then he had worked 7 Stanley Cup Finals, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 1,419 regular-season games and 204 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.