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The days before Hockey goalies wore masks

in Photography

Story by Rare Historical Photos: "This face belongs to Terry Sawchuk, a 36-year-old goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Re-created here, by a professional make-up artist and a doctor, are some of the more than 400 stitches he has earned during 16 years in the National Hockey League. Terry Sawchuck’s face was bashed over and over, but not all at one time. His wounds healed. The scars weren’t easily seen – except for a few of them. The re-creation of his injuries was done to help show the extent of his injuries over a span of years.

This famous photo from Life magazine, it’s a great photo, but ironically, it didn’t tell half the story of Sawchuk, who was a very troubled man off the ice. He suffered a dislocated elbow playing rugby and hid it from his parents. The lack of medical attention caused his right arm to be half a foot shorter than his left, was extremely crooked, and caused him considerable pain for the rest of his life. He was distant, angry, miserable with teammates and fans alike, kept to himself, and suffered from what we would now call depression or anxiety. In fear of losing his job, he kept injuries to himself, and suffered quietly through many elbow problems, appendicitis, a collapsed lung, severe hand problems, broken foot, and too many cuts to count. His playing style of an extremely low crouch left him with a permanently bent back and ruptured discs, which meant that he couldn’t sleep longer than 2 or 3 hours at a time.

This was all a bit much for Sawchuk to take, and he began to drink heavily. His life off the ice was generally a total uproar. Alcoholism and spousal abuse was the name of the game in the Sawchuk household. He had numerous affairs, and eventually impregnated a woman outside of his marriage, before finally being divorced by his wife.
Sawchuk died after a drunken scuffle with teammate Ron Stewart, arguing over the phone bill they shared. Sawchuk fell, suffering damage to his liver, and died in hospital after having his gallbladder removed, as well as unsuccessful attempts to stop the bleeding from his liver. The photo, on its own merits, is excellent. Considering what we now know about Sawchuk’s life, the picture becomes amazing."


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