TORONTO - The CFL has lost one of its senior officials, and Darren Hackwood is good with it.
The NFL announced via Twitter on Thursday that Dave Hawkshaw of North Vancouver, B.C., a 14-year CFL veteran, was one of six new officials hired for the 2019 season. Hawkshaw, a firefighter, officiated in 189 career CFL games and three Grey Cups.
"We see it as a pretty big positive,'' said Hackwood, the CFL's senior director of officiating. "We knew kind of going into this partnership with the NFL that, hopefully, we'd get the outcome of them hiring one of our officials that was in the program and that's a very big positive for us.''
In 2016, the two leagues formed the NFL-CFL officiating development program to help officials on both sides of the border learn from each other and get more field time. The following year, Hawkshaw was among three CFL officials - Dave Foxcroft of Burlington, Ont., and Edmonton's Justin McInnes were the others - who attended NFL development seminars and programs.
Each was tested thoroughly, then worked a different NFL exhibition game. Hawkshaw and Foxcroft were field judges while McInnes served as line judge.
As part of the program, CFL officials work primarily as downfield officials in NFL exhibition games, a position comparable to side judges in Canada. Conversely, NFL officials working in the CFL preseason contests are primarily deep wing officials so as to minimize some of the rule differences between the two leagues.
This isn't the first time the NFL has hired a CFL official. In 2001 referee Bill Vinovich, an American, joined the NFL officiating ranks after working for five years in the CFL.
Vinovich served as an NFL official from 2001-06 before retiring due to heart condition. He returned in 2012 after receiving a clean bill of health from doctors and is entering his 14th season south of the border in 2019.
Hackwood said the timing of Hawkshaw's departure won't cause any problems for the CFL in terms of finding a replacement official.
"We have a roster right now that's craving for more games,'' he said. "We have the veteran officials who love to work so filling the 15 or 16 games that Dave would've worked won't be a problem.
"It also gives us an opportunity to get one of our new officials some more reps earlier in the season. Hopefully this can be a bit of a recruitment tool for us if we're going to be a bit of a path to the NFL for some.''
(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)