By Alex Briggs
England’s most respected ice hockey referee who has officiated for 20 years has decided to rest for the remainder of this season due to health concerns.
Tom Darnell, 36, took to Twitter to announce the bad news, saying: “Based on medical advice I’ve had to call time on this season.”
At 36, Darnell still has age on his side if a successful recovery takes place and given his impressive fitness levels, a comeback is possible.
In December 2016, the London-born businessmen was diagnosed with a myocardial bridge, that ultimately began to give off worse symptoms as time went on.
The IIHF qualified referee, who took charge of the recent Challenge Cup final, was due to appear at the upcoming EIHL play-offs and IIHF Championships.
Despite the setback, Darnell was keen to remain positive and has certainly not ruled out a return to the ice.
As a passionate believer in fan interaction on Twitter, the EIHL’s most popular official has received much support from those within ice hockey and in the general sports world.
Good luck bud.
You will be missed.
— Neil Edwards (@SteelerGoalie94) March 17, 2017
@tomdarns Wherever your recovery journey takes you there will be plenty of us to lend a hand or support or whatever you need,take care Tom.
— Jon Jones (@Batraven) March 17, 2017
The unexpected news means the weekend’s fixtures will see the re-allocation of some officials to cope with the absence of the league’s best Zebra.
With only a handful of games to go, the rotation of officials won’t be too tasking for the league’s board. However, with some key clashes this weekend without their best ref, things could get interesting, to say the least.
Having established himself as the go-to official, the 36-year-old has gained much attention from the league and elsewhere, starring in exclusive behind the scenes videos.
If the EIHL are looking to develop further, it’s up to those like Tom Darnell to keep performing week in week out to maintain the decency of the league’s standards.