"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Eddie Johnston played all 70 games in 1963-64, the last goalie with a perfect attendance record for every minute of every game in a season. But his pain threshold was tested time and again. Johnston suffered four broken noses -- maybe an NHL record. His eyes would be so swollen from the bruising that, on two occasions, doctors applied leeches to suck the blood so he could see well enough to play. And play he did, for all 4,200 agonizing minutes.
On Halloween in 1968 his skull was fractured by an errant puck in practice. He wasn't released from the hospital until shortly before Christmas.
The Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont writes:
Eddie Johnston recalls where the pucks were that night, who was about to shoot, and how he was crouching in the net to turn back whatever came his way.
The former Bruins goalie also remembers the shot that almost killed him and where he spent the next 6-8 weeks.
"I was in the funny farm," Johnston recalled the other day, decades removed from the Bobby Orr slapshot that fractured his skull during pregame warmups at the old Detroit Olympia. "From late October till just before Christmas, I didn't know where the hell I was. Not a clue. They told me later that they had the priest in there two or three times to give me the last rites, but I don't remember any of that."
Eventually, time alone took care of the swelling, and blood thinners dissolved the clot. Teammates came and went, but Johnston didn't learn of most of their visits until much later. One out-of-town visitor, legendary netminder Glenn Hall, was shocked to see his old pal comatose.
"He was so shook up," Johnston said, "that he put on a mask to play that night and never took it off."
Back in the game not long after Christmas, Johnston also played with a mask for the first time and kept it on until finishing his career...
New Rule: Only cities with locals who can play hockey outside in the winter can have an NHL team. Look, I want to like the NHL again. It looks magnificent in HD, and really, that's all that matters in life. For the umpteenth straight year, I'm going to advocate a 22-team league: two 11-team conferences, one in Canada, one in America, only in cold-weather cities (no ifs, ands or buts). That will give us more rivalries, deeper teams and a higher quality of play. Every Stanley Cup Finals would feel a little Ryder Cuppy, with the Canada vs. America subplot. Besides, warm-weather cities don't need the NHL. Why? Because it's warm there! Believe me, I live in LA-there's plenty to do here. But in Winnipeg? You guys can have the Kings. Please. I insist.