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Local author pens book on 'worst gambling scandal in NHL history'

'It eventually tainted everything he touched, it ruined his marriage ... and he spent a whole lifetime trying to recover a lost reputation,' says writer Fred Addis

An Orillia author has published a new book about "the worst gambling scandal in the history of the National Hockey League." 

Fred Addis, a former curator at Leacock Museum, grew up in Port Colborne, the home of Don Gallinger, who played for the Boston Bruins from 1942-48. 

In Gallinger's final season, he and fellow Bruin Billy Taylor were suspended for life for associating with gamblers or engaging in gambling activity.

"It was never quite clear," Addis said. "Gallinger received a life suspension which lasted 22 years." 

Gallinger made the Bruins out of training camp as a 17-year-old, which was unprecedented at the time. At the time of his first game, Gallinger was the youngest player to have ever played in the league. 

Gallinger's hockey career was interrupted briefly in 1944 when he volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force where he spent 1.5 years until the end of the Second World War. 

"When he came back during the 1945-46 season, he led the Boston Bruins in scoring that year," Addis said. "He also scored two overtime goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs." 

In 1948, Gallinger's career came to a halt as a 22-year-old after he was introduced by Taylor to a gambling kingpin in Detroit. 

"He was accused of associating with gamblers by the National Hockey League and was kicked out," Addis said. "His playing days were long over by the time his suspension was lifted in 1970."

Gallinger made numerous appeals to the league, saying that the governor of Michigan and Detroit police wouldn't charge him for illegal gambling because the evidence was "entirely circumstantial." 

"The (league) suspended him because they could," Addis said. "It was a closed club and that's what they did." 

Addis, 71, had been carrying Gallinger's story with him for 25 years and decided to document it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of eight to nine months, he was able to produce a manuscript with the support of Gallinger's two sons, who live in Collingwood and California. The book, titled Gallinger A Life Suspended, was released Nov. 2 in Boston. 

Addis hopes his book sheds light onto the suspension of Gallinger being taken "far out of proportion to the misdeeds he allegedly committed."  

"Most recently, the NHL suspended Shane Pinto of the Ottawa Senators who received 41 games or half an NHL season," he said. "It's also interesting to note that the NHL player caught for having allegedly gambled previous to the Gallinger situation, was a man named Babe Pratt, and he got six games and 19 days in 1945." 

Addis, a native of Niagara Peninsula, says his book is the first time Gallinger's story isn't being told from the league's perspective. 

"It's my objective to tell this story using words from the man to whom this happened," he said. "This is basically his version of the narrative." 

Before the suspension, Gallinger was offered a tryout for the Boston Red Sox, Boston Braves, and Philadelphia Athletics of Major League Baseball. 

"He tried to recover his reputation for a number of years, but the appeals fell on deaf ears," Addis said. "It eventually tainted everything he touched, it ruined his marriage, estranged from his family including his children, and he spent a whole lifetime trying to recover a lost reputation." 

Gallinger died of a heart attack in 2000. Addis warns readers there is no redemption in his story. 

On Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m., Addis will be at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) to share more about Gallinger's story. 

Gallinger A Life Suspended is available now in the OMAH gift shop or online for $26. It is also available at Manticore Books.

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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