February 06, 2016

George Parsons

Toronto Maple Leafs' George Parsons was in his second full season when tragedy struck.

Parsons was a junior and senior star in Toronto before sticking with the Leafs in 1938. A powerful skater with a blistering shot, hockey was to literally be his salvation. When he was not on the ice, he was working to support his family. From the age of 14 he dropped out of school to work crushing stone because his ill father was unable to provide for his family.

The hometown boy seemed destined to become the next Maple Leafs star. In 1939 he helped the Leafs to a first place finish and an appearance in the Stanley Cup final while being described by one scribe as "the best money player on the club."

Then a nasty accident resulted in Parson losing his left eye, and his hockey career.

"I remember the date well. It was March 3rd, 1939. I was 24 years old. Earl Robinson of Chicago tried to lift my stick but he hit me in the eye. When I was in the hospital the president of the league, Frank Calder, visited me and suggested that I shouldn't play again."

In fact Parsons would not be allowed to play. The league had previously adopted the Trushinski by-law which forbade players with one eye to play. It was named after a minor leaguer named Frank "Snoozer" Trushinski, who had lost sight in one eye, returned, and then lost most of the sight in his other eye.

Though it was an accident, George Parsons had to come to grips with the fact that his once-promising career as a hockey player was over.

But his career in hockey was not.

He became heavily involved with the equipment manufacturer CCM, helping to develop equipment that would be safer for players at all levels, from youth to pros. He rose to North American sales manger to vice-president of product development. His work on helmets and facial protection was his biggest legacy.

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