Armstrong dies at 87, was Hall of Fame linesman, father of Blues GM

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Neil Armstrong, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who officiated 1,744 regular-season games as an NHL linesman, died Sunday at the age of 87.

The father of St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong worked in the NHL from 1957 to 1978. He became a scout for the Montreal Canadiens and held an offseason job as a golf pro after retiring and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Neil Armstrong was in an assisted living home battling Parkinson’s disease and dementia in Sarnia, Ontario. Doug Armstrong brought the Stanley Cup there July 27, 2019 after the Blues’ seven-game victory against the Boston Bruins in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final.

“Being able to share the Stanley Cup with him, to share the ring with him, we did it 20 years ago and to be able to share some of the experiences I’ve been through the past two decades with him, well, that’s pretty special,” Doug Armstrong said during an Oct. 8, 2019 appearance at the Hall of Fame to present a championship ring. “He gets a big smile out of it and those are few and far between for him. So it’s been great.”

It was the second time Doug shared an NHL championship with his father. Doug Armstrong was assistant GM with the Dallas Stars when they won the Cup in 1999.

“Each of those occasions, they’ve been very meaningful to myself,” he said. “When you have children yourself and they grow, you understand all the sacrifices your parents make for you. I respect that more obviously going through what I did with my own kids now.”

Neil Armstrong was born Dec. 29, 1932 in Plympton, Ontario. When he realized that his boyhood dream of playing in the NHL wasn’t going to become a reality, he turned to officiating and worked in the Ontario Hockey Association before coming to the NHL. He was 24 when he worked his first NHL game, a 2-2 tie between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins on Nov. 17, 1957. 

On Oct. 16, 1973, Armstrong was honored at Olympia Stadium in Detroit for officiating in his 1,314th NHL game, breaking the record previously held by George Hayes. The only injury that kept him out of work was a broken hand in 1971.

NHL.com managing editor John Kreiser contributed to this report

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