Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Armstrong, Neil

Armstrong, Neil

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.

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