In 2006, Hayden had some health issues and had to undergo open heart surgery.
“That came out OK. I just had to rethink a few things and prioritize some stuff and it turned out it was time,” said Hayden, who hung up his USA Hockey responsibilities in 2007.
Hayden’s contributions to USA Hockey came during an important time.
“Throughout that whole time in kind of that administrative role, that was a time when we were still becoming familiar with this thing called the internet and technology and he was a big proponent of the technology and getting it integrated into at least our systems on the officiating side of the world with regards to registration and things like that,” said Dave LaBuda, who is the current national referee-in-chief.
LaBuda said Hayden had a successful run as the USA Hockey national referee-in-chief because of his vast experiences at all levels of hockey.
“I think it was because he understands what the grassroots level was all about, because he had been a part of it and then stayed in touch with it,” LaBuda said. “Because of that, he was able to understand what was able to be integrated from a technology standpoint that would make the whole process easier for the grassroots official.”
Upon his retirement from USA Hockey duties, Hayden wanted to continue being involved at the local level.
Hayden was the treasurer for the Monroe (Michigan) Hockey Association from 1998-2012. He is still heavily involved with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and recently had a four-year stint as its Rules Committee chairman. Hayden has played a big role in getting rules unified among USA Hockey, NFHS and the NCAA.
Hayden stays busy during the hockey season as the general manager of the Bedford (Michigan) High School youth hockey team.
One accomplishment under Hayden’s hockey tenure that he’s most proud of happened at the state level in Michigan. After extensive research showed that kids around 12 and 13 would be good ages to be hockey officials, Hayden had pushback in the state because child labor laws wouldn’t permit that. With the assistance of a Michigan House of Representatives member, Hayden wanted to enact a new law. After 11 months of exhausting work by Hayden, a law passed for kids as young as 11 to work as officials. Hayden was at Michigan State Capitol next to the governor the day the bill was signed.
“My heart was beating hundreds of beats a minute that day as that happened,” Hayden said. “Of all the things that I look back on, that’s the number one thing that I say, wow. We did it.”
That was one of many achievements that aided Hayden in being named the Chet Stewart Award winner almost a quarter century later.
“I think it’s a very well-deserved honor,” LaBuda said. “He’s certainly made significant contributions to our game during his tenure.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.