Walt Gardner excelled at various levels of hockey, baseball/fastball, coaching and as an official. He won a total of 11 championships as a player and coach with teams at many levels, including with the Montreal Royals (Junior A), Simcoe Gunners, and Simcoe Intermediate Fastball.
Gardner excelled on the ice enough to warrant an invitation to Chicago Black Hawks’ training camp at a time when the National Hockey League boasted only six teams and precious few roster spots. Gardner traded his stick for a whistle after his playing days were over and he would eventually spend 13 years as one of the best and well-respected in the Ontario Hockey Association. His time in stripes included the 1975-76 season in the North American Hockey League.
“Both teams knew that if Walt was refereeing, the outcome was due to the players’ input rather than the decisions of the referee,” said Tony Steyaert, a former OHA official and supervisor. “ I just want to say for all his skills and efforts he put on the ice, he was a good person and has been a lifetime friend to me and others.”