NHL Pin

Feb. 14, 1974

In an age when too many professional athletes consider themselves celebrities, big-league hockey players are downright refreshing. Generally speaking, when an NHL player, coach or league official is asked a direct question, they offer a direct answer.

So, it isn’t surprising to dip into the archives and discover that hockey people were forthright back in the day.

NHL referee Wally Harris lost control of the game – and the Boston Garden – during the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Bruins. A series of dubious calls and non-calls culminated with 50 seconds left in the third period.

Chicago’s Bill White is reported to have assaulted Bobby Orr. The linesmen whistled an offside call. Harris called nothing. When Orr went after Harris in protest, he was hit with a misconduct penalty.

And the full house proceeded to send bottles, cans, hot dogs, and any other handy items to litter the ice. Harris sent the teams to their locker rooms.

The game remained in suspended animation for 36 minutes before the Bruins and Blackhawks could finish it off,

Three weeks later, NHL referee-in-chief Scott Morrison ordered Harris to report to the league’s offices in Toronto to go over a film of the game.

Morrison had already studied the film and admitted that Harris botched just about every important decision he made that night.

“It would be foolish for me or for Wally to deny that he had a bad night,” Morrison said, per the Boston Globe.