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Terry Sawchuk

Terry Sawchuk
Born December 28, 1929(1929-12-28),
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died May 31, 1970 (aged 40),
New York, New York, United States
5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Pro clubs Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Los Angeles Kings
New York Rangers
Playing career 1949'1970
Hall of Fame, 1971

Terrance Gordon "Terry" Sawchuk (December 28, 1929 ' May 31, 1970) was a Ukrainian Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender who played 21 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.


[edit] Early life and playing career

Sawchuk was born and raised in East Kildonan, a working-class, Ukrainian section of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was the third of four sons and one adopted daughter of Louis Sawchuk, a tinsmith who had emigrated to Canada as a boy from Galicia, Austria'Hungary (now Ukraine), and his wife, Anne Maslak Sawchuk, a homemaker. The second son died young from scarlet fever and the oldest, an aspiring hockey goaltender whom Terry idolized, died suddenly of a heart attack at age seventeen. At age twelve, Sawchuk injured his right elbow playing football and, not wanting to be punished by his parents, hid the injury, preventing the dislocation from properly healing. Thus, the arm was left with limited mobility and several inches shorter than the left, and bothered him for his entire athletic career. After inheriting his older brother's goalie equipment, Sawchuk began playing ice hockey in a local league and worked for a sheet-metal company installing vents over bakery ovens. His goaltending talent was so evident that at age fourteen a local scout for the Detroit Red Wings had him work out with the team, who later signed him to an amateur contract and sent him to play for their junior team in Galt, Ontario, in 1946, where he also finished the eleventh grade but most likely did not graduate from high school. The Red Wings signed him to a professional contract in 1947, and he quickly progressed through their developmental system, winning honors as the Rookie of the Year in both the U.S. and American Hockey Leagues. Sawchuk also filled in for seven games when the Detroit goalie Harry Lumley was injured in January 1950. Sawchuk showed such promise that the Red Wings traded Lumley to the Chicago Black Hawks, though he had just led the team to the 1949'1950 Stanley Cup. Nicknamed "Ukey" or "The Uke" by his teammates because of his Ukrainian ancestry, Sawchuk led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups in five years, winning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie (the first to win such honors in all three professional hockey leagues) and three Vezina Trophies for the fewest goals allowed (he missed out the other two years by one goal). He was selected as an All-Star five times in his first five years in the NHL, had fifty-six shutouts, and his goals-against average (GAA) remained under 2.00. In the 1951'1952 playoffs, the Red Wings swept both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, with Sawchuk surrendering just five goals in eight games (for a 0.67 GAA), with four shutouts.[1]

Sawchuk was ordered by Detroit general manager Jack Adams to lose weight before the 1951'1952 season, and his personality seemed to change when he dropped more than forty pounds, becoming sullen and withdrawn. He became increasingly surly with reporters and fans, preferred doing crossword puzzles to giving interviews, and struggled for years to regain the weight. Also contributing to his moodiness and self-doubt was the pressure of playing day in and day out despite repeated injuries ' there were no backup goaltenders. He frequently played through pain, and during his career he had three operations on his right elbow, an appendectomy, countless cuts and bruises, a broken instep, a collapsed lung, ruptured discs in his back, and severed tendons in his hand. Years of crouching in the net caused Sawchuk to walk with a permanent stoop and resulted in lordosis (swayback), which prevented him from sleeping for more than two hours at a time. He also received approximately 400 stitches to his face before adopting a protective facemask in 1962.[2] In 1966, Life Magazine had a make-up artist apply stitches and scars to Sawchuk's face to demonstrate all of the injuries to his face over the years. The make-up artist did not have enough room for everything.[3]

The Red Wings traded Sawchuk to the Boston Bruins in June 1955 because they had a capable younger goaltender in the minor leagues (Glenn Hall), which devastated the self-critical goalie. During his second season with Boston, Sawchuk was diagnosed with mononucleosis, but returned to the team after only two weeks. Physically weak, playing poorly, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he announced his retirement in early 1957 and was labeled a "quitter" by team executives and several newspapers. Detroit reacquired Sawchuk by trading a young forward named Johnny Bucyk to Boston. After seven seasons, when they had another promising young goalie (Roger Crozier) ready for promotion from the minor leagues, Detroit left Sawchuk unprotected in the intraleague waiver draft, and he was quickly claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Sawchuk sharing goaltending duties with the forty-year-old Johnny Bower, the veteran duo won the 1964'1965 Vezina Trophy and led Toronto to the 1966'1967 Stanley Cup. Left unprotected in the June 1967 expansion draft, Sawchuk was the first player selected, taken by the Los Angeles Kings where he played one season before being traded back to Detroit. Sawchuk spent his final season with the New York Rangers, where he played sparingly.[4] On February 1, 1970, in only his fourth start of the season, he recorded his 103rd and final shutout of his career by blanking the Pittsburgh Penguins.[5] Sawchuk appeared in his last NHL game on April 14 when Rangers coach Emile Francis replaced goalie Ed Giacomin in an effort to slow down the playoff game against the Boston Bruins. He was in the net for less then a minute before Giacomin returned.[6]

Sawchuk married Patricia Ann Bowman Morey on 6 August 1953 after a brief courtship. They had seven children, and the family suffered for many years from Sawchuk's increasing alcoholism, philandering (a Toronto girlfriend became pregnant by him in 1967), verbal and physical abuse. Morey threatened to divorce him numerous times, and finally did so in 1969.[7]

[edit] Death

Tombstone of Terry Sawchuk, at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Pontiac, MI.

Sawchuk struggled with untreated depression, a condition that often affected his conduct. After the 1969'1970 season ended, Sawchuk and Rangers teammate Ron Stewart, both of whom had been drinking, argued over expenses for the house they rented together on Long Island, New York. Sawchuk suffered severe internal injuries during the scuffle from falling on top of Stewart's bent knee. At Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Sawchuk's gallbladder was removed and he had a second operation on his damaged and bleeding liver. The press described the incident as "horseplay," and Sawchuk told the police that he accepted full responsibility for the events. At New York Hospital in Manhattan, another operation was performed on Sawchuk's bleeding liver. He never recovered and died shortly thereafter from a pulmonary embolism on May 31, 1970 at the age of forty. The last reporter to speak to him, a little over a week before his death, was Shirley Fischler (wife of Stan Fischler), who went to see him in the hospital as a visitor, not identifying herself as a reporter. Sawchuk told her the incident with Ron Stewart "was just a fluke, a complete fluke accident." Fischler described him as "so pale and thin that the scars had almost disappeared from his face."[8] A Nassau County grand jury exonerated Stewart and ruled that Sawchuk's death was accidental. Sawchuk was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Pontiac, Michigan.[9]

[edit] Legacy

Sawchuk's #1 banner hanging in Joe Louis Arena.

During his career, Sawchuk won 501 games (447 regular season and 54 playoff) , while recording 115 shutouts, (103 in the regular season and 12 in the playoffs).[10] Sawchuk set the standard for measuring goaltenders, and was publicly hailed as the "best goalie ever" by a rival general manager in 1952, during only his second season.[11] Sawchuk finished his hockey career with 447 wins, a record that stood for thirty years, and his career record of 103 shutouts remained unsurpassed among NHL goaltenders, until Martin Brodeur bested that mark on December 21, 2009. In 1971, Sawchuk was posthumously elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for his contribution to hockey in the United States. The Red Wings retired his number 1 in 1994. In 1997, the book Shutout: The Legend of Terry Sawchuk by sports author Brian Kendall, was published. Also, the book Sawchuk: The troubles and triumphs of the World's Greatest Goalie was published in 1998 by David Dupis, with participation by the Sawchuk family. In 2001, he was honored with his image on a Canadian postage stamp, even though he had become a U.S. citizen in 1959. In 2008, Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems, a book of poetry about Sawchuk by Randall Maggs, was published. The Terry Sawchuk Arena in his hometown of Winnipeg is named in his honour.

[edit] Awards and achievements

[edit] Records

  • NHL record - Career ties leader - 172
  • Sawchuk's NHL record for career shut-outs (103) stood for 39 years until broken by Martin Brodeur in 2009.

[edit] Career statistics

[edit] Regular season

Season Team League GP Min GA W L T SO GAA
1949'50 Detroit Red Wings NHL 7 420 16 4 3 0 1 2.29
1950'51 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 4200 139 44 13 13 11 1.99
1951'52 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 4200 133 44 14 12 12 1.90
1952'53 Detroit Red Wings NHL 63 3780 120 32 15 16 9 1.90
1953'54 Detroit Red Wings NHL 67 4004 129 35 19 13 12 1.93
1954'55 Detroit Red Wings NHL 68 4080 132 40 17 11 12 1.96
1955'56 Boston Bruins NHL 68 4080 181 22 33 13 9 2.60
1956'57 Boston Bruins NHL 34 2040 81 18 10 6 2 2.38
1957'58 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 4200 207 29 29 12 3 2.94
1958'59 Detroit Red Wings NHL 67 4020 209 23 36 8 5 3.09
1959'60 Detroit Red Wings NHL 58 3480 156 24 20 14 5 2.67
1960'61 Detroit Red Wings NHL 37 2150 113 12 16 8 2 3.10
1961'62 Detroit Red Wings NHL 43 2580 143 14 21 8 5 3.28
1962'63 Detroit Red Wings NHL 48 2775 119 22 16 7 3 2.55
1963'64 Detroit Red Wings NHL 53 3140 138 25 20 7 5 2.64
1964'65 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 36 2160 92 17 13 6 1 2.56
1965'66 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 27 1521 80 10 11 3 1 3.16
1966'67 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 28 1409 66 15 5 4 2 2.81
1967'68 Los Angeles Kings NHL 36 1936 99 11 14 6 2 3.07
1968'69 Detroit Red Wings NHL 13 641 28 3 4 3 0 2.62
1969'70 New York Rangers NHL 8 412 20 3 1 2 1 2.91
NHL totals 971 57228 2401 447 330 172 103 2.52

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Sawchuk, Terrance Gordon ('Terry')," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures (Scribner's, 2002), Vol. 2, pp. 335-336.
  2. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Sawchuk, Terrance Gordon ('Terry')," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures (Scribner's, 2002), Vol. 2, p. 336.
  3. ^ "Hockey's Reviled and Bludgeoned Fall-Guys: The Goalie is the Goat," Life (Mar. 4, 1966), p. 33. See an image of the photo in the Life Photo Archive hosted by Google at: http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=2e8a3bcb056e2783&q=sawchuk%20source:life&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dsawchuk%2Bsource:life%26ndsp%3D18%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DN%26start%3D18
  4. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Sawchuk, Terrance Gordon ('Terry')," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures (Scribner's, 2002), Vol. 2, p. 336.
  5. ^ The Montreal Gazette, Feb. 2, 1970, page17.
  6. ^ The Montreal Gazette, April 15, 1970, page14.
  7. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Sawchuk, Terrance Gordon ('Terry')," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures (Scribner's, 2002), Vol. 2, p. 336.
  8. ^ Shirley Fischler, "Last Interview," Hockey Illustrated (Nov. 1970), pp. 21-23.
  9. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Sawchuk, Terrance Gordon ('Terry')," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures (Scribner's, 2002), Vol. 2, p. 336.
  10. ^ http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?mem=p197103&type=Player&page=statsawards&list=#photo
  11. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Sawchuk, Terrance Gordon ('Terry')," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures (Scribner's, 2002), Vol. 2, p. 337.

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Jack Gelineau
Winner of the Calder Trophy
Succeeded by
Bernie Geoffrion
Preceded by
Al Rollins
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
1952, 1953
Succeeded by
Harry Lumley
Preceded by
Harry Lumley
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
Succeeded by
Jacques Plante
Preceded by
Charlie Hodge
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
with Johnny Bower

Succeeded by
Gump Worsley
and Charlie Hodge

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