The son of a Bruins player suspended from the NHL for betting in the 1940s says he’s not holding a grudge against the league for its treatment of his father. Instead, he’s expressing gratitude to fans for their unwavering support over the years.
Don Gallinger Jr. returned to Boston last week with his wife and daughter, distributing cards of his father Don Gallinger to fans outside the TD Garden before last Thursday’s win over Toronto.
In the 1947-48 season, NHL president Clarence Campbell banned Gallinger and his teammate Billy Taylor for life from the league for betting on games involving the Bruins. The suspensions were finally lifted 22 years later.
“Anybody who is my age or older is aware of the story and aware of my father,” Gallinger Jr. stated. “Many people today who’d be in their 20s or 30s, they’ve never heard of my father.”
Hockey historian Fred Addis also made the trek last week alongside the Gallinger family. The trip coincided with the release of “Gallinger: A Life Suspended,” a biography that Addis wrote highlighting Gallinger’s disrupted hockey career and life after the suspension.
Before the suspension, Gallinger was the youngest player to ever play for the Bruins when he made the team as a 17-year-old in 1942. He scored two overtime playoff goals and led Boston in scoring in 1945-46.
According to Addis, Taylor convinced Gallinger to bet on the team to lose games they thought they’d lose anyways. The pair became involved with a Detroit gambler and convicted criminal and bet on eight games over a three-month period in 1947-48.
“What we were hoping to do is to come to Boston – although it is the next generation or even the generation after that – and just to say ‘Thank you’ to the fans in Boston who supported Don Gallinger during the good times,” Addis said.
The trip to Boston came just after the NHL suspended Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto for 41 games, marking the first modern-day hockey player banned for sports gambling. The league stated that its investigation found no evidence that Pinto bet on NHL games.
Addis called Gallinger’s suspension “certainly relevant” today, despite the differences in society back then compared to now. Gallinger Jr. also pointed out the stark contrast between how the league treated his father for gambling and how prevalent gambling advertisements are during today’s sports games.
The Gallinger family and Addis are making efforts to honor and preserve the memory of Don Gallinger, while also acknowledging the lasting impact of his suspension on his life and career.