Terry Sawchuk

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Terry Sawchuk
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1971
Terry Sawchuk 1963.JPG
Sawchuk in 1963
Born(1929-12-28)December 28, 1929
Winnipeg, MB, CAN
DiedMay 31, 1970(1970-05-31) (aged 40)
New York City, NY, USA
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
PositionGoaltender
CaughtLeft
Played forDetroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Los Angeles Kings
New York Rangers
Playing career1949–1970
 
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Terry Sawchuk
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1971
Terry Sawchuk 1963.JPG
Sawchuk in 1963
Born(1929-12-28)December 28, 1929
Winnipeg, MB, CAN
DiedMay 31, 1970(1970-05-31) (aged 40)
New York City, NY, USA
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
PositionGoaltender
CaughtLeft
Played forDetroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Los Angeles Kings
New York Rangers
Playing career1949–1970

Terrance Gordon 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.

Early life and playing career[edit]

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 immigrated to Canada as a boy from Galicia, Austria–Hungary (now Ukraine), and his wife Anne (nee Maslak), 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 rugby 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 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 (including three in his right eyeball) before finally 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 young forward 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 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.[2] 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.[4] 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 than a minute before Giacomin returned.[5]

Personal[edit]

Sawchuk married Patricia Ann Bowman Morey on August 6, 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.[2]

Death[edit]

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

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, fought 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 40. 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 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."[6] 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.[2]

Legacy[edit]

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).[7] 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.[8] 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 Dupuis, 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.

Awards and achievements[edit]

Records[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

  
SeasonTeamLeagueGPMinGAWLTSOGAA
1945-46Winnipeg MonarchsMJHL106005805.80
1946-47Galt Red WingsOHA-Jr.3018009443.13
1947-48Windsor SpitfiresIHL3180530001.67
1947-48Omaha KnightsUSHL5432481743018543.21
1948-49Indianapolis CapitalsAHL6740202053817223.06
1949-50Indianapolis CapitalsAHL61366018831201033.08
1949–50Detroit Red WingsNHL74201643012.29
1950–51Detroit Red WingsNHL704200139441313111.99
1951–52Detroit Red WingsNHL704200133441412121.90
1952–53Detroit Red WingsNHL63378012032151691.90
1953–54Detroit Red WingsNHL674004129351913121.93
1954–55Detroit Red WingsNHL684080132401711121.96
1955–56Boston BruinsNHL68408018122331392.60
1956–57Boston BruinsNHL342040811810622.38
1957–58Detroit Red WingsNHL70420020729291232.94
1958–59Detroit Red WingsNHL6740202092336853.09
1959–60Detroit Red WingsNHL58348015624201452.67
1960–61Detroit Red WingsNHL3721501131216823.10
1961–62Detroit Red WingsNHL4325801431421853.28
1962–63Detroit Red WingsNHL4827751192216732.55
1963–64Detroit Red WingsNHL5331401382520752.64
1964–65Toronto Maple LeafsNHL362160921713612.56
1965–66Toronto Maple LeafsNHL271521801011313.16
1966–67Toronto Maple LeafsNHL28140966155422.81
1967–68Los Angeles KingsNHL361936991114623.07
1968–69Detroit Red WingsNHL136412834302.62
1969–70New York RangersNHL84122031212.91
NHL totals97157,22824014473301721032.52

Playoffs[edit]

  
SeasonTeamLeagueGPMinGAWLTSOGAA
1945-46Winnipeg MonarchsMJHL21201202006.00
1946-47Galt Red WingsOHA-Jr.2125902004.32
1947-48Omaha KnightsUSHL3180912003.00
1948-49Indianapolis CapitalsAHL2120902004.50
1949-50Indianapolis CapitalsAHL84801280001.50
1950-51Detroit Red WingsNHL64631324011.68
1951-52Detroit Red WingsNHL8480580050.63
1952-53Detroit Red WingsNHL63722124013.39
1953-54Detroit Red WingsNHL127512084021.60
1954-55Detroit Red WingsNHL116602683012.36
1957-58Detroit Red WingsNHL42521904004.52
1959-60Detroit Red WingsNHL64052024002.96
1960-61Detroit Red WingsNHL84651853012.32
1962-63Detroit Red WingsNHL116603556003.18
1963-64Detroit Red WingsNHL136773165012.75
1964-65Toronto Maple LeafsNHL160301003.00
1965-66Toronto Maple LeafsNHL2120602003.00
1966-67Toronto Maple LeafsNHL105652564002.65
1967-68Los Angeles KingsNHL52801823013.86
1969-70New York RangersNHL380601004.50
NHL totals106629026654480122.54

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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. ^ a b c d 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 at: http://life.time.com/culture/terry-sawchuk-a-face-only-a-hockey-puck-could-love/#1
  4. ^ The Montreal Gazette, Feb. 2, 1970, page17.
  5. ^ The Montreal Gazette, April 15, 1970, page14.
  6. ^ Shirley Fischler, "Last Interview," Hockey Illustrated (Nov. 1970), pp. 21-23.
  7. ^ http://www.legendsofhockey.net/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?mem=p197103&type=Player&page=statsawards&list=#photo
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Chaves, Kevin. "The Best Non-Gretzky Records in NHL History". nhl.com. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jack Gelineau
Winner of the Calder Trophy
1951
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
1955
Succeeded by
Jacques Plante
Preceded by
Charlie Hodge
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
with Johnny Bower

1965
Succeeded by
Gump Worsley
and Charlie Hodge