Friday, March 28, 2014

The Gruesome Injury of Bob Dawes


April 21, 1951 was the last game ever played by Toronto Maple Leaf defenseman 'Bashin' Bill Barilko. As most hockey fans know, he would score the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime against the Canadiens and within a few months was lose his life in a plane crash in Northern Ontario. Barilko wasn't the only player to play his last game ever National Hockey League game on this day. For Montreal Centre Bob Dawes, his NHL career was ended by a gruesome leg injury pictured above.

I found the image in google news archives and had to find out more about the poor guy pictured. According to The Montreal Gazette, "Dawes came out of a tangle with Ted Kennedy near the boards with his leg broken in four places". Each player was carried off on a stretcher, but Kennedy "wasn't seriously injured and returned almost immediately". Dawes was not so lucky.

Just the previous year, Dawes was a member of the Leafs and in 1949 he played all nine playoff games as Toronto won it's third straight Stanley Cup. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette summed up his valuable contributions as follows, "Bobby Dawes acted as relief centre on all three Leaf lines and turned in a bruising defensive effort. He rattled his checks with body-thumps and slowed them down to lighten the load for Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy and Max Bentley, the Leafs' regular pivotmen." Two seasons later, in the game he broke his leg, he was playing in his first playoff game of the season. The Montreal squad was injury decimated and Dawes was making his playoff debut after he played 15 regular season matches.

Unfortunately for Dawes, this was not his first brush with serious injury. Beginning in the 1947/48 season, Dawes played on Toronto's main farm team, the Pittsburgh Hornets and was a member of a promising "kid line" along with Sid Smith and Fleming Mackell. Midway through this season, Dawes year almost came to an end. On January 23, 1948 the Post-Gazette reported, "The Hornets returned home this morning fearing they had lost Centre Bob Dawes for the season. Dawes was injured in a mid-ice collision and the diagnosis at the game was a fractured leg. However, Dawes was brought home and x-rays today revealed no fracture...only a sprained and bruised knee." He ended up missing only two games.

The next year, a heel injury kept Dawes out for 15 games, yet he still managed 51 points in 55 games before joining Toronto for their Cup run. After his awful leg fracture in the '51 Final, Dawes would be out of hockey for almost two full years before returning for good. In 51/52 he got into 5 games with Montreal Royals and a pair with Buffalo Bisons. He would end up sitting out the entire 1952/53 season still recovering from his injury.

Dawes eventually returned for good in 53/54 and played ten more full seasons of professional hockey in places such as Sudbury, New Westminster, Johnstown and Saskatoon. He retired for good at age 42 in 1966/67 after playing senior hockey with Saskatoon Quakers.

Barilko hoisted aloft by Cal Gardner and Bill Juzda

1 comment:

Heal Mor said...

Seriously well formulated and well written

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