Lloyd Gilmour: BC Hockey Legend
There's nothing worse than looking up at the scoreboard, and seeing that it's the bottom of the eighth inning, in a 3-4 game, you're one run behind, there's no more time to lose, and realizing you have a hockey stick in your hand...
Lloyd Gilmour was born in Cumberland, B. C., and grew up playing hockey, and his junior days were spent with the Nanaimo Clippers, where his play gained the attention of the New York Rangers, who in 1949 asked him to try out with the New York Rovers (a Ranger farm team). However, during the off-season in 1950 Lloyd was involved in a logging accident in which he severely injured his back, pelvis, hips, and legs and endured a hospital stay of six months.
Miraculously, defying the experts, Lloyd was back skating soon after; however he realized he was unable to perform at the level he was accustomed to and retired two months later, but with the 1952-53 season came the opportunity to get back in the game as a linesman in the Okanagan Senior Amateur Hockey League, and within two years, Lloyd was refereeing in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Throughout the late 50’s and 60’s, Lloyd logged hundreds of thousands of miles refereeing in the WHL, the CPHL, and the AHL, and he did a few games in the National Hockey League during the original six eras, and then, once expansion occurred, Lloyd became a permanent fixture in the NHL.
Lloyd was involved in a number of memorable moments throughout his career including “misplacing” the puck used in the last game played at Madison Square Garden and handling some heavy negotiations between the touring Russian Red Army team and the Philadelphia Flyers (the Broad Street Bullies) in 1976 ensuring the series continued fairly.
The Flyers versus Red Army was a famous international ice hockey game, notable for an incident where, after an extremely hard body check delivered by the Flyers' Ed Van Impe, CSKA's top player, Valeri Kharlamov, was prone on the ice for a minute.
When the officials did not call a penalty, the Red Army coach, Konstantin Loktev, pulled his team off the ice in protest, however, after negotiations, the Red Army returned to the ice and lost the game 4-1.
It was a memorable moment, at the height of the cold war, although a little more than a decade after the showdown, the Soviet Union was crumbling politically.
I never actually attended that match, although I must have heard the story many times from Lloyd, when I've been to visit him in Canada, but it certainly was a legendary moment in history, just as Lloyd was a legendary figure.
Sadly Lloyd Gilmour's health is suffering today, and time is finally catching up with him, but I hope that hockey always keeps a place open in its heart for Lloyd, as I know he'll always keep hockey in his.
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