Don Gallinger was a tremendous athlete who was one of the rising stars of the NHL in the 1940s. Quick and agile, Gallinger was athletic enough to have turned down a tryout with the Boston Red Sox. As part of the youthful “Sprout Line” with the Bruins, Gallinger was one of the youngest players in NHL history when he debuted with Boston at the age of 17 in 1942. As skilled offensive player, many people felt that Gallinger could have been one of the stars of hockey through the 1950s.
However, Gallinger is much more well-known for what he did off the ice than his accomplishments in the rink. In 1948, Gallinger and teammate Billy Taylor were banned for life from the NHL after the league found that they bet on games – specifically, they bet on their own team to lose. A few years earlier, Billy Pratt of the Maple Leafs had seen his lifetime ban for gambling on games overturned and changed to just nine games, but Gallinger wasn’t so lucky. He wouldn’t get a second chance and would be officially banished from his sport until 1970.
Part of the problem was that unlike the contrite Pratt, Don Gallinger initially denied any wrongdoing publicly – even when he was privately admitting to NHL President Clarence Campbell that he had bet on games. Gallinger finally admitted to betting against his team on up to nine games based on his knowledge of key injuries to the Bruins. According to Gallinger, he lost every bet he made against his team. In a cruel twist of fate, Gallinger lost the largest bet he ever made against the Bruins, $1,000, when he scored the tying goal.
After the players were reinstated, Taylor took a job as a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Gallinger never returned to the NHL in any capacity. He did play semi-pro baseball and led the Kitchener-Waterloo Panthers to two championships in the 1950s and coached junior hockey in the 1960s. His NHL pension was only $37 a month and he died in 2000 while living in a 10-foot-by-15-foot apartment in Burlington