NHL Official: 1957 to 1978

Birthplace: Plympton Township, ON

Regular Season: 1744 Games (Linesman)

Hall of Fame Induction: 1991

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong appeared in more games than Gordie Howe–1,744, in fact–and can boast that not one of them was a home game! The native of Plympton Township, near Sarnia, Ontario, was on the line for 22 years, although he wasn’t sure he’d even survive his first. In that contest, November 17, 1957 when he was just 24, the Bruins and Leafs got into a brawl near the end of the third period. Boston’s Fern Flaman skated up to Armstrong, who had broken up a fight involving him, with his arm dangling, screaming, “You broke my arm!” Scared, Armstrong didn’t move, but Flaman soon started howling with laughter as he moved his arm freely to and fro.

By the time he retired in 1978, Armstrong had sustained only one serious injury himself, though not bad enough to force him to miss any games. In 1971, Gary Dornhoefer fell awkwardly along the boards, and Armstrong was up against the glass. The player’s stick cut Armstrong’s hand and broke a bone, forcing him to wear a cast for three months. For his remarkable string of appearances, he was nicknamed “Ironman.”

Armstrong was like any Canadian boy, playing minor hockey in Galt but not quite skilled enough to make it to the NHL. He was offered a chance to officiate a game in the same league, accepted, and went on to earn his OHA certification. He rose quickly through the ranks, and on October 16, 1973 Armstrong was honoured at the Detroit Olympia for officiating his 1,314th game, breaking the previous record set by George Hayes. He retired in 1978 and turned his hand to scouting, for the Montreal Canadiens. Throughout his career, Armstrong was also golf pro at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club in the summer for some two decades.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Officials category in 1991.

Milestones

Hall of Fame Induction

1991

First NHL Game

November 17, 1957

All-Star Games

1976 -- PHILADELPHIA, PA

Spectrum
January 20, 1976

1973 -- NEW YORK, NY

Madison Square Garden
January 30, 1973

1971 -- BOSTON, MA

Boston Garden
January 19, 1971

1969 -- MONTREAL, PQ

Montreal Forum
January 21, 1969

1967 -- MONTREAL, PQ

Montreal Forum
January 18, 1967

1965 -- MONTREAL, PQ

Montreal Forum
October 20, 1965

1964 -- TORONTO, ON

Maple Leaf Gardens
October 10, 1964

1963 -- TORONTO, ON

Maple Leaf Gardens
October 05, 1963

1961 -- CHICAGO, IL

Chicago Stadium
October 07, 1961

1960 -- MONTREAL, PQ

Montreal Forum
October 01, 1960