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August 18, 2010

Lloyd Gilmour Dead At 82

Lloyd Gilmour died a week ago. The long time NHL referee was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He was 82 years old.

Walter Cordery of the Nanaimo Daily News wrote of memories of Gilmour.

Cordery got a quote from legendary Canucks broadcaster Jim Robson, who remembers Gilmour as an amateur player long before he donned the zebra stripes:
“When he played in Nanaimo and in North Vancouver, he was a tough guy, sometimes amassing as many as 400 minutes in penalties a season. That’s why he could relate to the players, he understood the game.”
Gilmour, born in the Vancouver Island community of Cumberland in 1928, was a prospect in the New York Rangers system. But an off-season logging accident ended his playing career at the age of 19. He was hospitalized for 6 months with back, pelvis, hip, and leg injuries.

He would return to the ice, but this time as a referee, first in the Okanagan Senior league before progressing to the Western Hockey League and then on to the NHL by the early 1960s. When he retired in 1976, he was considered to be the NHL's top referee.

Gilmour retired to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and opened up his own restaurant. Nanaimo Harbour Lights Restaurant was famous for all the hockey pictures on the wall, but is also known as the place where Diana Krall started singing professionally at age 15.
Brian Stovell, who played bass with Krall that day at the restaurant adorned with pictures of NHL players, said Diana “was very nervous. She was only 15, but Lloyd was fantastic to us. He was a great guy.”
Gilmour became good fishing buddies with Howie Meeker, who has long lived in Parksville, BC, just north of Nanaimo. The long time hockey player and broadcaster shared his memories of Gilmour with Cordery, too:
“He was a good referee who did things his way and was the last of a dying breed when referees could be more independent. Today, the league keeps referees in line but Lloyd was one of the best.”
Gilmour refereed in the NHL for 19 seasons. He also ran an officiating school in Banff, Alberta for many years.

I will always remember Lloyd Gilmour for infamous reasons. He was the referee in the 1976 Super Series clash between CSKA Moscow and the Philadelphia Flyers. That game was greatly controversial, as the Broad Street Bullies were accused of roughing up the Russians. The Russians were so upset at Gilmour at one point they left the ice for 15 minutes and threatened to not complete the game.

Gilmour was also the referee in the 1975 playoff game between the Flyers and the hometown Buffalo Sabres where the heat and humidity created so much fog coming off of the ice the game almost could not be completed.

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