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April 14, 2016

Paul Meger

Paul Meger was really looking forward to playing at the Boston Garden on November 7, 1954.

It would be day that would change his life forever.

The 4th year left winger had carved out a niche as a hardworking checker and penalty killer, was playing on the top line with Jean Beliveau and Boom Boom Geoffrion on this night.

In the first period Bruins forward Leo Labine was carrying the puck out of his own end. As Meger zeroed in on Labine, the two collided and were laid out on the ice. The back of Labine's skate caught Meger near the right temple and, with blood pouring out of the gash, he went to the dressing room where the trainer stitched him up. Needless to say, he was done for the game.

The story doesn't end there unfortunately. Meger developed a violent headache over night. The team doctor referred him to a surgeon who promptly administered X-rays and using a syringe extracted some of the pus-like substance from the swelling on the side of his head in an attempt to reduce the pain.

"You've cracked your skull" he was told. X-rays revealed a hole about the size of a Canadian dollar coin. The skate blade smashed through the skull and jabbed an inch and a half into the brain.

Between November 1954 and June 1955, Meger underwent four operations on his brain. The fourth was performed by world renowned neurologist Wilder Penfield, who removed a portion of scarred brain tissue the size of an egg.

Needless to say his once promising hockey career was over. Meger and his family moved to Barrie Ontario, his old junior hockey stomping grounds. He learned the electrical trade and worked for a contracting firm owned by junior hockey legend Hap Emms. He later worked as a service technician for Sears. Meger also got heavily involved in volunteer work in the community, particularly minor hockey and the Red Cross.

This is what Meger had to say about the accident. "Its one of those unfortunate things. I had to be the one it happened to. It's just nice to be alive!"

Meger never took anything for granted once he recovered from the terrible mishap.

"I work on the principle that I'll never have a bad day and by golly I don't!" he said.

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