Masterton Dies of Head Injuries

First Fatality in 51 Years

St. Paul Dispatch 1/15/68

William J. (Bill) Masterton center for the
Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey
League died early today of massive brain injuries
sustained Saturday night in a game against Oakland
at Metropolitan Sports Center.

Masterton 29, succumbed at Fairview Southdale
Hostpital 27 hours after he fell heavily and
struck the back of his head on the ice during the
first period of the Saturday contest.

Emergency aid was rendered to Masterton on the ice
by Dr.  Charles Kelly, one of three Minnesota team
physicians and trainers Stan Waylett and Al

As soon as he was removed to the dressing room he
was placed under the care of four physicians,
including Dr. Paul Blake, Minneapolis neuro
surgeon.  He was rushed to Fairview Southdale by

A team of five physicians headed by Dr.  Lyle
French, chief neuro surgeon of University of
Minnesota hostpitals, fought to save Masterton,
but the former Denver University All American
never regained consciousness.

A club spokesman said that no operation had been

Masterton suffered the injury after he had skated
into the Seals zone with the puck in the first
period, then back handed a pass to Wayne Connelly,
his right wing.

Reports by sports writers covering the game
conflict on what happened.  But, Masterton somehow
slipped or had his feet knocked out from under him
in a high sticking crowd of players about 25 feet
in front of the Oakland goal.

Masterton fell backwards, the back of his head
slamming against the ice.  He was taken from the
ice on a strecher, his head bleeding profusely,
and was rushed to the hostpital.

His parents were summonmed from Winnipeg, and were
at his side along with his wife.

It was the first playing death in the 51 year
history of the National Hockey League.

Masterton, a native of Winnipeg, and a resident of
Minneapolis is survied by his wife Carol and a son
Scott, 3, a daughter Sally 1, his parents Mr.  and
Mrs.  William Masterton of Winnipeg and a brother
Robert of San Diego.

President Walter Bush said of Bill Masterton's
death: "I've lost a person I valued as a friend as
well as one of the finest players in our
organization.  Bill certainly exemplified the type
of person I would want my children to become."

"The sympathy of the North Stars goes out to Carol
Masterton and to all the members of Bill's

Masterton played junior hockey in Winnipeg and
entered Denver University in 1957.  He led the
Pioneers to the NCAA championship in in 1961, was
selected as the most valuable player in the NCAA
tournament that year and was named to the
All-American team.

Masterton turned professional in the fall of 1961
and played two seasons for Montreal farm teams in
Hull, Ottawa of the Eastern Professional Hockey
League and Cleveland of the American Hockey

He finished sixth in the AHL scoring at Cleveland.

He retired from from professional hockey following
the 1962-63 season and earned his masters degree
in finance from Denver in 1964.

He played amateur hockey and performed for the
U.S.  National team while employed at Honeywell.

Minnesota purchased the rights to his contract
form Montreal last June.  Masterton and goaltender
Carl Wetzel were the first two North Stars to sign

Despite the four year layoff from professional
hockey he made the team in training camp and
gained a place in the record books when he became
the first Minnesota player to score a goal in an
NHL game, Oct.  11 in St.Louis.

At the time of his death Masterton stood ninth in
scoring for the North Stars with four goals and
seven assists for 11 points.

Funeral services under the direction of O'Halloran
and Murphy of St.  Paul are pending.