August 08, 2014

1950-51: Stanley Cup Hero Bill Barilko Vanishes

The Three Stars:

Bill Barilko Scores Stanley Cup Winner, Then Disappears: The Toronto Maple Leafs regain their Stanley Cup title thanks in part to an unique tandem goaltending approach with stars Turk Broda and Al Rollins, and the overtime goal scoring heroics of young defenseman Bill Barilko. Later that summer the plane carrying the 24 year old Barilko and pilot Dr. Henry Hudson disappears on a northern Ontario fishing trip. Their remains were not found until 1962.

Gordie Howe's Amazing Comeback: Gordie Howe rebounds from a near-fatal head injury in the 1950 Stanley Cup playoffs to set a new NHL scoring record with 86 points. He tops the league in both goals (43) and assists (43). He is the first player to lead all three offensive categories since Howie Morenz in 1927-28.

Detroit's Blockbuster Deal: Detroit boss Jack Adams pulls off a nine player trade with Chicago. Harry Lumley, Black Jack Stewart, Al Dewsbury, Pete Babando and Don Morrison all head west for Sugar Jim Henry, Bob Goldham, Metro Prystai and Gaye Stewart. The biggest surprise in the deal was Lumley, but Adams felt he had a young replacement ready to take charge - a fellow named Terry Sawchuk.

A very young Terry Sawchuk
Season Highlights
  • Adams was right about Terry Sawchuk. The rookie wins the Calder trophy with a NHL best 44 wins. Lumley has a miserable season with a weak Chicago team.
  • The NHL creates a new rule that has each home team providing an emergency goaltender for every game and for the use of either team in the event of injury or illness to one of the goalies.
  • Gordie Howe may have dominated the scoring race, but Rocket Richard was right up there too. He was just shy of Gordie with 42 goals, but was a distant 2nd with 66 total points.
  • Richard was fined $500 by NHL President Clarence Campbell for attacking referee Hugh McLean in a New York hotel lobby. Richard had felt McLean had missed a blatant penalty and grabbed him by the tie and threatened him. For unknown reasons Hugh McLean never reffed in the NHL ever again.
  • Red Kelly has a huge season with 54 points, just shy of the record for most points by a defenseman. The Norris Trophy still did not exist at this point in history, but he was clearly the best dman in the game. On top of that he was the cleanest. He took only 24 minutes in penalties this season and won the Lady Byng Trophy.
  • The New York Rangers hire a hypnotist in hopes of ending their cellar-dwellar ways. It did not work. 

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