Some referees expressed concern to the league that Van Hellemond was dishing out prime playoff assignments to officials who lent him money, the Globe and Mail reported Tuesday.
News of the legendary former referee's departure came in a Friday evening news release. However, the NHL reportedly knew Van Hellemond was borrowing money before last month's Stanley Cup final.
"That's why [NHL vice-president and director of officiating] Colin Campbell selected the officials for the final and [vice-president of hockey operations] Mike Murphy was installed as the supervisor for the final," an anonymous source told the Globe.
Andy Van Hellemond, seen in this 1999 file photo, resigned as the NHL's director of officiating on Friday. (CP Photo)
"Usually, the director of officiating is the supervisor for the final."
Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer, released a statement Tuesday to The Canadian Press in defence of Van Hellemond.
"We do not intend to further comment on the circumstances relating to Mr. Van Hellemond's decision to step down from his role as the NHL's director of officiating," Daly said in the statement.
"Having said that, we can say unequivocally that we are satisfied that staffing decisions for all NHL games during Mr. Van Hellemond's tenure were made entirely on the merits of the officials involved."
Van Hellemond refused comment when reached by The Canadian Press at his NHL office in Toronto on Tuesday, other than to say: "It's people taking shots and trying to do what they can do."
Concern over Van Hellemond's loans first surfaced at the officials' association annual meeting in Las Vegas last month.
Several on-ice officials said they believed Van Hellemond was handing out plum playoff assignments to those who had lent him cash.
Van Hellemond, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999 after a 25-year officiating career, was reportedly borrowing sums ranging from $100 to $10,000.
The 56-year-old former referee reportedly paid back all of the loans.
Campbell said there is no timetable to find a new NHL director of officiating – the person responsible for overseeing the league's on-ice officials.
Van Hellemond will remain with the NHL's hockey operations department as a consultant.
with files from CP Online