Hockey Night in Canada

Longtime NHL referee Bruce Hood succumbs to cancer at age 81

Bruce Hood, who refereed more than 1,100 NHL games over 21 seasons, died Friday after a four-year battle with prostate cancer.

Officiated more than 1,100 games between 1963 and 1984

Bruce Hood, who refereed in the NHL for 21 seasons, died Friday at the age of 81. (YouTube)

Bruce Hood, who refereed more than 1,100 NHL games over 21 seasons, died Friday after a four-year battle with prostate cancer.

He was 81.

Kevin Hood said his father passed away at a hospice surrounded by family in Guelph, Ont.

Bruce Hood was on the ice for some of the NHL's most iconic moments during his more than two decades as an official, including Bobby Orr's overtime goal in Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup final that won the Boston Bruins their first title in nearly 30 years.

"He wanted to be the best at everything he did in his life, and refereeing was no exception," Kevin Hood said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. "He would always say, 'You're only half right most of the time.' Half the crowd's with you and half the crowd's against you.

Best to not be noticed

"The games when you weren't noticed, those were the best."

Hood officiated 1,033 regular-season games, 157 playoff games, three all-star games and three Canada Cups.

"Bruce Hood brought professionalism and integrity to every game he worked and earned the respect of the players, coaches, general managers — as well as his peers," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "In addition to his command of the game and his ability to communicate on the ice, Bruce had a characteristic calmness that brought his excellence to the fore when the pressure was greatest."

Hood, who was instrumental in the formation of the NHL Officials Association in 1969, also refereed the so-called "Good Friday Massacre" brawl between the Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques in the 1984 playoffs. The fisticuffs started at the end of the second period and spilled over into the third when the teams returned from the locker-rooms, eventually leading to 252 minutes in penalties and 11 ejections.

"There was a lot of precedent set that game ... two teams leave the ice and then they come back and start to fight again," said Kevin Hood. "That was very memorable for him. It was quite cathartic because in those days the question was, 'Who had control?"'

Hood, who ran camps for young officials and developed new equipment for referees, retired after the 1984 playoffs and got into the travel business, eventually becoming president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents.

He authored two books on hockey — "Calling the Shots" in 1988 and "The Good of the Game" in 1999 — and tried his hand at politics with the Liberals, losing a tight race in the riding of Wellington-Halton Hills in the 2004 federal election.

"He was a good guy. He was a guy all about change," said Kevin Hood. "He was never really happy with anything the way it was.

"He was always a change agent. Once you got used to that, you were good with it, because typically his changes were great."

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