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.


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.

Unknown 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.

Unknown said...

I was at that game, I saw the whole thing.
It began with a struggle for the puck behind the St.Louis goalie, I saw Green slap Maki with the blade of his stick on the left side of his face..Maki skated away behind his net, Green was glaring at him and went after him again..They met at the blue line right in front of me, Green was looking for a fight, but Maki raised his stick above his head and brought it down with the corner edge of the stick hitting Green in the middle of the forehead, he dropped to the ice.
The officials grabbed Maki and shepherded him the the gate behind the goal.
Bobby Orr skated the length of the ice and tried to hit Maki's head, but the large doors closed and Orr's stick got caught in the door..Maki was the only player to wear a helmet during the game

Anonymous said...

I was at that game too. Mr McQueen your memory is faulty. The incident happened right in front of the goal. I was 10 rows up in the corner Maki was not wearing a helmet. Green started it by high sticking Maki . maki slashed him on the arm . Green retaliated, with a slash to Maki's upper arm , Maki then hit him on the side of the head. Maki was backing up, obviously scared of Green .Green was badly hurt, his face was contorted and his head was twitching.
Orr came off the bench and did succeed in cross checking Maki once , sending him to the ice. When the game resumed Orr was booed every time he came on . He didn't play much after that.

Unknown said...

Eerie sidenote: when Wayne Maki died, he was one day older than Ted Green was when Maki almost killed him.

Unknown said...

Ted Green was known for his meanness and was not shy about using his own stick as a weapon. In fact, he struck the first blow against Wayne Maki (and missed his target-Maki's head), while Maki retaliated in self-defense, and hit Green on the head with his stick, sending Green to the hospital. From then on, every time Maki played against the Bruins, they brutally and mercilessly tortured him in every way they could think of, and Maki's teammates NEVER came to his defense, which is utterly shameful. It was heartbreaking-especially given that Ted Green struck the first blow. Then shortly thereafter, Wayne Maki died from a brain tumor at age 29. That poor young man never got a break. What a tragedy.

MarkusMaximus6275 said...

This was a pre-season game played in Ottawa, was it not?

Rob said...

I was 10 years old and attended the game played at the Ottawa Civic Centre. I lived on Sunnyside Ave about a 10-minute walk to Landsdowne. Can’t remember what I paid to see thatpre-season game, but I used to pay a dollar for general admission to see the Ottawa 67s...I rarely sat in my assigned seat though - there were always empty seat available in the first 10 rows :-)

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, these comments are something else. Somehow everyone was at that game 50 years ago and still has a perfect memory of every event? Yet they are all different from each other? Sounds like a bunch of people who want to feel special so they make this stuff up.

What in the world does Wayne Maki's age when he died being similar to Ted Green's age when the incident happened have to do with anything? That's not eerie at all.

Imagine that, lots of empty seats at a hockey game in Ottawa? Some things never change!

rustyshorts said...

Anonymous....I feel sorry for you that you are so cynical and lacking in knowledge in the fallibility of the human memory. These folks would have no reason to fabricate a story in an obscure blog-post that few will see. Eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, a fact realized by police investigators for decades. Be it 50 years or 5 hours different peoples memory of an event will vary from others who witness the same event.Fact.

Anonymous said...

WSBK televised the game, but they destroyed the tape due to the graphic nature.