January 14, 2013

Wayne Maki And The Terrible Stick Swinging Incident


Wayne Maki will always be known for this ugly incident on the ice:



Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Wayne joined older brother Ron "Chico" Maki with the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1967–1968 season.

In 1969 he was claimed by the St. Louis Blues. In a preseason game on September 21, 1969, Maki and Boston Bruins defenceman "Terrible" Ted Green engaged in a violent stick-swinging fight. Broadcasting legend Dan Kelly described the incident as “one of the most horrifying, most violent exchanges I’ve ever seen in hockey.”

After narrowly avoiding an angry strike by Green, Maki retaliated with his own stick and hit Green in the head. Green suffered a fractured skull and a brain injury.

“I could see right away that Green was badly hurt,” Kelly told Brian McFarlane. “When he tried to get up, his face was contorted and his legs began to buckle under him. It was dreadful. I almost became physically ill watching him struggle because I knew this was very, very serious. I remember it like it happened yesterday.”

Assault charges were laid against Green and Maki. The NHL suspended and fined both players. Maki was suspended for 30 days and Green for 13 games “if and when he returns to hockey." Green missed the entire 1969-70 season, but did return to action and played for nearly another decade.

Perhaps disturbed by the incident Maki never stuck with the Blues that season. The Vancouver Canucks claimed Maki in the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft. The wingman was an early hit in Vancouver, being among the team's scoring leaders in each of the club's first two seasons.

Maki's career came to a sudden halt in December 1972 when he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. He died later that season, on May 12, 1974. He was only 29 years old.

The Canucks took Maki's #11 jersey out of circulation ever since, though Mark Messier wore the number when he joined the team in 1997. No player has worn #11 since Messier's departure in 2000

In 246 games played Wayne Maki scored 57 goals, 79 assists, 136 points, and 184 penalty minutes in regular season play. In 2 post-season games played, he added 1 goal and 2 penalty minutes.

Head Strong - According to Brian McFarlane, Boston boss Milt Schmidt was so disturbed by the incident that he tried to force his Bruins all to wear helmets starting the next day. Here's how McFarlane tells the story:

Shortly after the Green-Maki incident, Boston coach Milt Schmidt purchased two dozen helmets and issued them to his players. When he showed up for practice the following day, none of the Bruins were wearing them. He ordered them to don the headgear or get off the ice. The players turned to look at Bobby Orr. Head down, Orr skated slowly off the ice, followed by his teammates. Schmidt decided not to make an issue of it and the helmets were stored away.

3 comments:

Brad said...

I found this entry very chilling... I didn't know anything about this incident prior to reading this post. I got very uncomfortable watching that video and reading the quotes. It was like watching a crime scene unfold and seeing the police photos with Green attempting to get back up from the ice with a contorted face. :s Anyway it was a very very good read. Thanks for the post.

Joe Pelletier said...

Apparently the photo of Maki hitting Green with the stick was taken by a kid in the audience! No one else caught the incident with a camera, and there was no television coverage of this game, so no video footage.

Brian Bogle said...

Wayne Maki told us as kids at hockey school that after the incident the Blue's tried to hold him out of the first game they played in Boston. He told them I will never play in the league again if I don't play. Wayne said it was vicious but he played and stood up for himself. A terrible thing but as a new player he felt he could not back down.

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