After a solid playing career, Carl Voss dramatically improved the quality of officiating in the NHL. He was fine administrator of on-ice officiating and implemented a more comprehensive system of instruction for prospective referees.
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Voss moved to Canada as a teenager. Equally gifted on the ice and the gridiron, he helped the Kingston Frontenacs reach the Memorial Cup final in 1926 and played halfback at Queen's University in Kingston. In 1927, he turned professional by becoming the first player signed by Conn Smythe, the owner of the newly-christened Toronto Maple Leafs.
Although he saw limited action with the blue and white, Voss was a leading performer on the club's affiliated minor pro squads during the next five years. He suited up for the Toronto Falcons and London Panthers of the CanPro League and the Buffalo Bisons of the International Hockey League. When Voss led the Bisons to the league championship in 1932 he was the top scorer in the IHL and a first-team all-star. Back in 1928-29 he was the athletic director at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph while commuting to London to suit up for the Panthers.
Voss eventually earned a full time NHL roster spot with the New York Rangers in 1932-33. Early in the season he was sold to Detroit where he excelled and was the inaugural recipient of the Calder trophy as rookie-of-the-year. Before retiring he played with five more teams and finished with 104 points in 261 career games. Voss went out on a high note in 1938 when he was credited with the Stanley Cup clinching goal when Chicago won its second Stanley Cup. A serious knee injury in that year lingered and was too much to overcome when Voss tried to play at training camp in the fall of 1938.
After retiring as a player, Voss joined the U.S. branch of the Canadian Cycle and Motor Company (CCM) and for the next ten years was its principal agent associated with professional hockey teams throughout the country. He also stayed on the ice as a referee in the American Hockey League, California Hockey League and college ranks.
Eventually Voss moved into the administration of the game by supervising officials in the minor leagues and replacing Jim Hendy as president of the United States Hockey League (USHL). After the USHL suspended operations, Voss joined the St. Louis Flyers of the AHL as manager and coach and continued to work as a consultant to the on-ice officials.
The NHL was well aware of Voss' quality administrative work and jumped at the chance to offer him the Referee-in-Chief job in 1950. During his 15 years in this capacity he implemented a wide range of progressive changes to the league's officiating structure. He actively scouted the minor and amateur ranks for potential NHL officials and provided superior training for them. The league's on-ice staff grew from 10 to 23 by the mid-1960s. They received top-notch training and a directive from Voss to call the game with as much uniformity as possible. A tremendous ambassador of the game, Voss also made his officiating clinics available to amateur or grass roots officials.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974.