Death Ended Masterton's Dream of Big Time Hockey

-Making Stars Fufilled Lifetime Ambition

St. Paul Dispatch 1/15/68

Bill Masterton always dreamed of someday playing
in the National Hockey League. But not unitl the
league expanded to 12 teams this season did
Masterton fufill his lifetime ambition.

Masterton first began playing hockey in Canada's
far flung junior hockey program and his first team
was the St. Boniface Canadiens in the Manitoba
Junior Hockey League in 1956-57.

But Bill - or Bat, as his North Stars' teammates
called him - didn't turn professional unitl he was
23. He choose instead to pursue a bachelor of
science degreee in business while on a hockey
scholarship at Denver University.

The Winnipeg, Man. native still fiqured he had
plenty of time to make the big time even after his
senior year when he scored 27 goals and collected
55 asssists on the way to being named Most
Valuable Player in the NCAA tournament.

Masterton recalled recently, "I signed with the
Montreal organization and was assigned to their
Hull-Ottawa farm club (1961-62) in the Eastern
Professional Hockey League.

"After scoring 31 goals and 35 assists there, I
was moved up to Cleveland the following season and
had what I thought was a pretty good year
(American Hockey League's sixth-leading scorer).

"But the Canadiens were loaded with centers so I
really never had much of a chance to make the
grade with them."

When any of the five NHL failed to draft him out
of the Montreal organization, Masterton decided to
quit pro hockey and return to Denver for his
master's degree in 1964.

"By that time I had gotten married," Masterton
continued," and there was this offer to work in
contract administration for a big, established
firm like Honeywell.

"Everything seemed to be working out so well, I
really didn't have much time to think about

Wren Blair, coach and general manager of the North
Stars, was aware of Masterton's two-year pro
record when he scouted the 6-foot, 186-pounder in
several exhibition games he played for the U.S.
National team.

Blair recalled, "I liked what I saw so I asked
Bill if he would consider giving pro hockey
another fling. When he said he would like to try
it, I bought his contract from Montreal.

"From what I saw of Bill in training camp, I think
he'll help us. He had the misfortune of getting a
shoulder seperation just before the exhibition
games started, but he worked hard with Lolyd
Percival, our physical fitness expert, and was
able to return for our last six or seven games and
get three goals and a couple of assists."

Masterton said that the chance to play in the Twin
Cities had a big part in his decision to return to
pro hockey.

"I doubt very much whether I would've considered
playing hockey any place," Masterton said.

"I went to training camp knowing it wouldn't be a
picnic, especially after being out of pro hockey
for four seasons. I had the opportunity to skate
quite a bit last summer when I coached in a summer
league, and I think that helped me quite a bit. I
was in pretty good shape when I reported."

Masterton admitted he was pleasantly suprised to
still be with the parent club when it opened its
regular season schedule Oct. 11. He would not have
been eligible anyway to compete for the United
States in the 1968 Winter Olympics because of his
previous pro experience.

"When I signed a two-year contract, I more of less
expected to spend this season at Memphis,"
Masterton said at the time.  "I still may end up
there but even if I do, I won't be disappointed
because I've given myself two years to prove that
I can play in the NHL."

"I realize it's ging to be tough, but if I get the
opportunity to play, I'm confident that I can make

Masterton did make it until his fatal accident
Saturday night resulting in his untimely death
early today.