The Terrifying Day Gordie Howe Almost Died During a Detroit Red Wings Hockey Game
Hockey is by far, one the most dangerous sports to play. A lot of measures in recent years have been made to make it safer, like in many other sports as well. But in years past, it wasn't uncommon for there to be incidents that caused severe to nearly fatal injuries in the sport. Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, known as "Mr. Hockey", nearly had a date with death during a hockey game on March 28, 1950.
Michigan Day By Day had a story in their archives about a scary night in Detroit involving Mr. Hockey. During a playoff game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Olympia Stadium, Howe suffered a near-fatal injury. It happened when he tried to slam into Maple Leafs Captain Ted (Teeder) Kennedy. #9 ended up crashing into the boards head first before falling unconscious to the ground.
The crowd immediately went silent and medical staff was brought out to carry him away on a stretcher. After arriving at a local hospital, it was discovered that Howe had suffered a brain hemorrhage and we was listed in critical condition. He also had a broken nose, a shattered cheekbone and a severe scratch to one of his eyes. The concern about whether or not he would survive was so worrisome that his mother was called to be by his side.
Medical staff conducted an emergency neurosurgery to try to relieve the pressure and it eventually saved his life. He also spent some time using an oxygen tank while recovering. Needless to say, he missed the rest of the playoffs that year
The Red Wings ended up losing that game 5-0, the first of the opening round best-of-7 with Toronto. But they rallied and went on to went to win the series 4 games to 3. They advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals and eventually defeated the New York Rangers, 4 games to 3 to being home their fourth NHL title.
It's hard to imagine what may have different in the world of hockey, the Detroit Red Wings, and the entire sports world honestly if the fate of that night had turned even more tragic. During the next season, Howe came back, responding to those injuries by playing in every game, leading the NHL in goals, assists, and total points, and winning the scoring title by 20 points. The Red Wings also went on to dominate in the NHL for much of the decade, bringing home three more Stanley Cups in 1952, 1954 and 1955.