Being an NHL referee isn’t exactly the safest job in the world.

Veteran ref Steve Kozari can vouch for that firsthand after Monday night, when he found himself very much in the line of fire during a Stanley Cup playoff game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kozari had his eyes fixed on Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury when the puck bounced off the skate of Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinski and nailed Kozari right in the chest/neck area.

He was OK (hockey refs are tough guys, too), but — as his initial reaction shows — taking a hard, rubber disk to the throat at high velocity isn’t the greatest feeling in the world.

Check it out in the GIF below, courtesy of Deadspin.

steve kozari