NHL referees and linesmen will wear ‘JG’ patches on their right arm to honor Jim Gregory, as reported earlier by Sportsnet 650’s Joey Kenward.
A Hockey Hall of Famer and an executive at both the team and league level, Gregory died October 30 at age 83.
Gregory’s career spanned four decades, including 10 years as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs – where he became one of the first to recruit European players into the NHL. His next step, fittingly, saw him head up the league’s Central Scouting Bureau from 1979-1986. The Port Colborne, Ontario, native then moved on to the league’s Hockey Operations team, where he played a key role in the introduction of video review. Gregory oversaw not only the video review process, but the NHL officials as well.
NHL referee Wes McCauley shared his thoughts on Gregory over at the NHL Officials’ website:
Words can’t convey the tremendous impact Mr. Gregory had on the lives of members of my family. I met Mr. Gregory back when I was a teenager around the age of 13. I was in Grade 8 and really wanted to go to St. Michael’s College School in Toronto. Living in Georgetown, I knew it was going to be close to impossible to get in. As the year went on and their calendar flipped to the New Year, I knew the acceptance letters were due to arrive. I checked the mail every day and felt disappointment for what seemed like days on end. I started to think that I must not have gotten accepted because I should have received a letter. Finally, one day I come home to an envelope with a St. Mike’s logo on it. I opened it up and to my surprise, I was accepted.
The following year I was enrolled at St. Mike’s and one day my classmates and I got on the topic of when each of us received our acceptance letters. Well, I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I received mine a few weeks later then pretty much everyone else in my class.
I relay this story because a few years ago at training camp, Mr. Gregory and I were talking about my dad and the topic of St. Mike’s came up. Mr. Gregory let it slip that he was the reason I got into St. Mike’s. My dad and Mr. Gregory used to travel quite a bit together back in the 80’s, and I guess my dad mentioned how much I wanted to attend St. Mike’s and how I had not heard anything from the school about an acceptance. Knowing Mr. Gregory, he probably went back to his office and called over to St. Mike’s to inquire about my standing there. I’m sure he let the Admissions Office know that it would probably be a good idea to accept me.
That was Mr. Gregory to a tee. He was always looking out for everyone else and would do anything he could to help. I was fortunate to spend many car rides with my dad and Mr. Gregory traveling to games. What a life. I would sit in the back seat and listen to them talk hockey, players, officiating, and family.
Two things still stick with me about Mr. Gregory. First, when we arrived at the rink, Mr. Gregory would give me a few players to watch on both teams that night, and he would ask me questions on the way home. Second, Mr. Gregory always drove because he had an Audi. My dad loved that car. I can still hear him tell my mom “ Irene, you should see Jim’s car, it’s an Audi. . . .”
Mr. Gregory made an impact not only on the game of hockey, but more importantly, on everyone he came in contact with. He was the officials’ biggest cheerleader, and I know I can speak for all current and former NHLOA members when I say this he will be dearly missed; hockey season truly started for all of us when Mr. Gregory stood up at the front of the room and welcomed us to training camp.
On a personal note, my dad will be upstairs with the door opened in the Audi to take Mr. Gregory to a game. The hockey community is a lot poorer today with the passing of Mr. Jim Gregory–as fine a gentlemen as you will ever meet.
Retired NHL referee Paul Stewart also shared his thought on Gregory’s passing.
Very sad to hear of the passing of Jim Gregory. He was an outstanding executive, a very capable head of Hockey Ops and a boss for whom I had immense respect. Commanded respect, trustworthy, sharp , kind and caring. Whatever beefs I had with others in NHL authority, I loved Jim.
— Paul Stewart (@PaulStewart22) October 30, 2019
Gregoy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
Here’s a look back at Jim Gregory’s life and legacy, courtesy the National Hockey League