Hockey History: When the NHL Cracked Down on Gambling

by | Jul 5, 2023

Hockey History: When the NHL Cracked Down on Gambling

by | Jul 5, 2023

On March 9, 1948, NHL President Clarence Campbell announced that Billy Taylor of the New York Rangers and Don Gallinger of the Boston Bruins would be banned for life for betting on hockey games. Taylor had just been acquired from the Bruins on February 6 along with Pentti Lund and Ray Manson in exchange for Grant Warwick.

Campbell claimed to have conclusive evidence that Taylor was involved with a known criminal and gambler by the name of James Tamer, and that he had placed a bet against the Bruins on February 18 of that year. He lost the bet, but it still cost him his career. Gallinger had also been associated with Tamer as well, which led to an indefinite suspension. Campbell did what he thought was necessary to preserve the integrity of the sport by suspending both of them.

Taylor was a fairly decent player.  He broke into the league with Toronto in 1940 at the age of 20 and won a Stanley Cup with the Leafs in 1942. In 1946 he was traded to Detroit where he set a record for most assists in a single game with seven. He joined the Bruins and Gallinger in 1948 where he played in 39 games before being dealt to the Rangers, for whom he played only two games and did not record a point. Taylor’s son, Billy, also played for the Rangers, appearing in two games in 1964–65 and also did not record a point. In 321 games for Toronto, Detroit, Boston, and New York, Taylor scored 87 goals with 179 assists and added six goals and 18 assists in 33 playoff games with Toronto and Detroit.

Gallinger was just 17 years old when he made his NHL debut with the Bruins in 1942–43, scoring 14 goals with 20 assists in 48 games. He was a solid performer for Boston, recording 65 goals and 88 assists in five seasons as well as five goals and five assists in 23 playoff games with the Bruins including two overtime game winners.

This was not the first gambling scandal to surface in the NHL. In 1946, former Ranger Babe Pratt, then with the Toronto Maple Leafs, was suspended for gambling. Pratt’s exile was short-lived, however. He appealed the league’s decision and was reinstated just two weeks later. In reinstating Pratt, the NHL’s Board of Governors warned Babe as well as every player in the league that they would be banned for life if they were caught gambling on hockey games.

Pratt, of course, was grateful to be reinstated saying, “No bets for me. I’m going to obey the rules of the league and forget all about gambling on any hockey games. I can make enough money by playing hockey without taking any outside chances.” Pratt apparently kept his word and was eventually inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

Prior to Pratt’s case, the NHL did not have any clear rules on the books that dealt with gambling. But the Pratt case and the edict set forth that any player caught gambling from then on would face a lifetime suspension, set the standard.

Both Taylor and Gallinger were reinstated in 1970, well after their playing days were over. Taylor eventually became a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Gallinger never returned to the league in any capacity.

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