Early NHL: Remembering Howie Morenz

Howie Morenz was ranked by The Hockey News as the 15th best player in hockey history. Yet, with all that accomplished during his life, he is still more commonly known for his untimely death.

Text written by Ryan Kessler

April 9, 2012

Howie Morenz won three Stanley Cups, led the Montreal Canadiens in scoring for seven straight seasons, and was ranked by The Hockey News as the fifteenth best player in hockey history. Yet, with all that accomplished during his life, he is still more commonly known for his untimely death.

In this episode of Canada's History podcast, Ryan Kessler speaks with Dean Robinson, author of Howie Morenz: Hockey's First Superstar.

On January 28, 1937, Morenz and the Canadiens met the Chicago Black Hawks at the Montreal Forum. During the first period, Morenz brought the puck into the Black Hawks’ defensive zone, closely followed by opposing defenseman Earl Seibert.

Morenz — skating at full speed — lost his balance and crashed into the boards. Seibert couldn’t avoid Morenz in time and landed on him, resulting in four broken bones in Morenz’s left leg.

Morenz was told by doctors he would never play hockey again.

He stayed in a Montreal hospital for the next five weeks. Just as his leg started showing signs of improvement, he reportedly died of an embolism on March 8. His line mate and close friend Aurèle Joliat said Morenz died of a broken heart because he couldn’t live without hockey.

The funeral took place two days later at the Montreal Forum, where more than 12,000 fans paid their respects to the late hero. Thousands more lined the street for his funeral procession.

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