During the era of bench-clearing brawls, fans may have wondered where the referees were. Well, Bruce Hood was there through all of that until, on November 19, 1983, he refereed his 1,000th NHL game. At Maple Leaf Gardens, he officiated a 5-4 win for the home team over the Detroit Red Wings.
He was the first NHL referee to reach that milestone. Before him, Wally Harris had reached 952 regular-season games. Although, eight linesmen and 48 players had already passed 1,000 games by that point. Having started refereeing back in 1959 at the age of 23, Hood also officiated in six other leagues: the Milton Minor Hockey Association (which he formed), the Ontario Hockey Association, the International Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, the Eastern Pro Hockey League, the Central Hockey League, and the American Hockey League.
As a referee, Hood had quite a few other significant moments. He was the “last referee to officiate in all of the ‘Original Six’ buildings” and the last to wear No. 1 as a referee. In 1969, he led the formation of the NHL Officials Association (NHLOA). The following year, his left hand was immortalized in the bottom right corner of the iconic photo of Bobby Orr’s flying overtime goal when the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Shortly before retiring in 1984, he awarded all the penalties resulting from the “Good Friday Massacre” between the Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques. In 1985, the year after retiring from the NHL, Hood became the first professional referee to officiate at the World’s Championships (held in Prague). As his son, Kevin Hood, commented, “He was always a change agent. Once you got used to that, you were good with it, because typically his changes were great.”
Kevin also told The Canadian Press, “He wanted to be the best at everything he did in his life, and refereeing was no exception. He would always say, ‘You’re only half right most of the time.’ Half the crowd’s with you and half the crowd’s against you. The games when you weren’t noticed, those were the best.”
Hood’s career as an NHL referee spanned 21 seasons, including 1,033 regular-season games, 157 playoff games, 4 Stanley Cup finals, 3 All-Star Games, and 3 Canada Cup Series. “Bruce Hood brought professionalism and integrity to every game he worked,” said National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman in an official statement upon Hood’s death in January 2018. “In addition to his command of the game and his ability to communicate on the ice, Bruce had a characteristic calmness that brought his excellence to the fore when the pressure was greatest.”