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The Globe and Mail

Highlight-reel brawl one wild night in referee's career

He once ejected nine players from a game for fighting.

The most notorious incident in Gregg Madill's career came at the end of a game at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on Dec. 23, 1979. After the final whistle, players from both teams milled on the ice in a scrum that grew more heated as players argued. A fan then reached over the glass surrounding the rink to sock Boston's Stan Jonathan in the nose, drawing blood.

The Bruins, skates still on their feet, climbed the glass to fight with the fans. Mike Milbury wrestled one fan over a row of seats, ripping a shoe off his feet before beating him with it.

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As police broke up the battle in the stands, Rangers captain Dave Maloney had a heated argument on the ice with Madill before smashing his stick on the ice. The ref assessed him a game misconduct even though the match had long since ended. Later, Maloney complained to reporters that Madill had sworn at him and accused New York's Swedish players of deliberately falling down so as to incur penalties on their opponents, an unsportsmanlike behaviour known as diving.

League president John Ziegler suspended three and fined 18 of the Bruins. He took no action against the Rangers, or the referee, though Sports Illustrated blamed Madill for ignoring a trip and a retaliation that led to the scrum after the final whistle.

One of the odder incidents in Madill's career occurred during a game in Denver, when he banished goal judge Rod Lippman after the off-ice official lit the red lamp signalling a goal even though the puck had hit a goal post. It was the goal judge's third disputed call of the night.

Though criticized as an NHL referee, Madill had worked his way up to the league after stints in minor professional circuits. He earned praise for his handling of international hockey games, including a successful assignment as an official at the world championships in Moscow in 1979.

Richard Gregg Madill was born in Toronto on July 15, 1944. He died on Dec. 5 at his winter home at Kissimmee, Fla. He also had a residence in the village of Apsley within the township of North Kawartha, Ont. He has been a residential building contractor.

He leaves his wife, Judy; two sons; a stepdaughter; and, six grandchildren. One of his sons, Jeff Madill, a right-winger, played 14 games with the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and had a long career in the minors.

Last year, an online auction house sold one of Madill's NHL sweaters. The "spectacular set of stripes," the listing noted, showed "some light staining that appears to be blood."

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Tom Hawthorn, Special to The Globe and Mail

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