Or so the story goes. Rob Cribb and Randy Starkman investigate the story for the Toronto Star and come up with one of true must-read articles on any former NHL player ever. It is a long read, but worth it. They suggest it was not the infamous body check/head hitting the ice that caused in the death, but rather a previously untreated brain injury.
Here's a sample:
When Bill Masterton’s limp body collapsed to the ice on Jan. 15, 1968, the Minnesota North Stars centre appeared to be the victim of an innocuous hit. Thirty hours later, he was dead in hospital.The duo go onto investigate the idea that a previously undiagnosed concussion was likely to have led to Masterton's death more so than the on-ice incident that fateful night.
Today his story is nearly forgotten, but for an annual NHL award that bears his name. It honours perseverance and dedication to hockey.
The irony is that perseverance probably killed Bill Masterton.
What happened in the days leading up to that fatal moment in Minneapolis, when Masterton played his 38th and final NHL game, has been largely a mystery.
Here's the full story. Also, check out some of the related topics links, including an essay by his son Scott, and a previous Cribb and Starkman piece on father Bill and son Scott.
All in all, very impressive work. I smell a long overdue Bill Masterton book release one day.