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What hockey player was suspended for life for betting against their own team?
One of the worst scandals in NHL history took place in 1948. Rumblings began to surface in March of 1948 that there was an ongoing investigation into whether NHL players had been betting on their own teams to lose.
Allegations were that James Tamer, a Detroit-based gambler, was working with members of the Boston Bruins in order to gain inside information on games, such as injuries and lineup changes. These allegations came to light in February 1948 when Tamer was arrested for a parole violation.
On March 4, 1948, nationally-syndicated columnist Walter Winchell wrote that Bruins forward Don Gallinger was one of the players involved in the gambling scandal. Initially, Gallinger denied the allegation. He admitted knowing Tamer but insisted he’d never bet on games.
But not long after the scandal went public, NHL President Clarence Campbell announced the lifetime suspensions of Gallinger and former Bruins forward Billy Taylor of the New York Rangers. Taylor also boasted of his innocence but also admitted that Tamer was an acquaintance.
Of the two, Taylor was the more prominent player. Playing for the Detroit Red Wings in 1946-47, he’d finished third in NHL scoring with 63 points in 60 games, including a league-leading 46 assists. He set an NHL record with seven assists in a 10-6 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on March 16, 1947. Today, Taylor maintains a share of that mark with Wayne Gretzky.
Campbell indicated that the league had proof that both Gallinger and Taylor, who was still with the Bruins at the time, had wagered on the Blackhawks in a Feb. 18, 1948 game against the Bruins. The evidence was gathered via Detroit police wiretaps on Tamer’s phone.
Gallinger had bet $1,500 on the game but came up a loser when his own team defeated Chicago 4-2. Confronted with the overwhelming evidence, Gallinger confessed his guilt.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Walter (Babe) Pratt, the 1943-44 Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP, was also suspended by the NHL in 1946 for nine games after he was found to have also bet on games. But the league cut him some slack because it could find no evidence that Pratt had ever bet against his own team.
With the rise of online sportsbooks in today's world, will we see a similar scandal before too long?