Bill McCreary

Bill McCreary

Portrait by Robert Howson

Bill McCreary is regarded as one of the best officials ever in the National Hockey League. McCreary holds the league records for most playoff games (297) and most Stanley Cup Final games (44) refereed. He finished his career second on the NHL’s all-time games refereed list. The Guelph native is one of only four referees to reach the 1,500 games mark — a feat McCreary accomplished on February 16, 2008. The quality of his refereeing was recognized by his selection to work the post-season an incredible 23 times.

McCreary started out playing the game of hockey making it to junior hockey but after a few years he became yet another Guelphite to join the Guelph Hockey Referees Association and launch his career in stripes. McCreary officiated his first NHL game in 1984 and retired at the end of the 2011 season.

McCreary’s long list of accomplishments includes refereeing 15 Stanley Cup Final series (13 consecutive from 1994-2007), the 1991 and 1994 Canada Cups, the 1994 NHL All-Star Game (New York), and the Winter Olympics in 1998 (Nagano), 2002 (Salt Lake City) and 2010 (Vancouver) — drawing the gold medal game assignment each time.

With his trademark thick, dark mustache he was instantly recognizable on the ice but more importantly was instantly respected by coaches and players alike for his “feel for the game”.

No city in Canada has produced more NHL officials than the city of Guelph and McCreary not only continues that long history of excellence but stands as one of the greatest officials of all-time.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Official category – on October 26, 2011