March 24, 2012

Ron Stewart: Piano Man

I was saddened to learn of the death of former NHLer Ron Stewart this week. Stewart, a veteran of nearly 1500 NHL games (including playoffs) in the 1950s and 1960s, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 79.

Stewart was best known as a Toronto Maple Leaf, winning three Stanley Cups between 1962 and 1964. Stewart was a long time, industrious hockey player throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s. Teammates loved Stewart because he was hard working on the ice, and fun loving off of it.

I love this story as told by Billy Harris:

"For 10 years I sat between Bobby Baun and Ron Stewart. Bobby approached his job as a defenseman , and life in general, rather seriously. Stewie didn't. I can't think of any other teammate that got enjoyment out of life than Stewart.

Stewie got serious 70 times a year once the opening face-off took place, and was a very durable and often underrated hockey player.

At least once every year Stewie would suffer an injury, a bad cut or a bruised shoulder or ankle, a slight shoulder separation or a cracked elbow, and he would always inquire, while being examined by the doctor, as to whether the injury would have any effect on his ability to play the piano. When the doctor assured him that he should be able to play the piano just fine after the injury healed, Stewie's reply would always be the same. "Thanks Doc. That's great news because before the injury I couldn't play one note!"

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