Born: March 25, 1927, Timmins, Ontario
Died: August 26, 1951 (aged 24) near Cochrane, Ontario
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 180 lbs (82 kgs)
Played for: Hollywood Wolves (PCHL), Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
NHL playing career: 1946-47 to 1950–51
The short, remarkable life of Bill Barilko ended in tragedy just months after he became the hero of an entire hockey community. Barilko hailed from Timmins, Ontario and achieved his lifelong dream of playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started his professional hockey career playing in Hollywood, a Maple Leaf affiliate in the Pacific Coast Hockey League, but his ferocious bodychecking and determined play earned him a call to play for the Maple Leafs, an extraordinary promotion, to say the least.
Once Conn Smythe saw Barilko play in blue and white, he sensed that the popular blueliner was never going to return to the Hollywood Wolves again. ‘Bashin’ Bill’ hit every opponent with great force and was a rock on Toronto’s blueline. In his five NHL seasons, he played on four Stanley Cup championships. His legacy, though, was established by scoring the most dramatic Stanley Cup-winning goal in NHL history.
In 1951, the Toronto/Montreal final was the closest ever, with all five games going into overtime, the only final in Cup history to be decided in such a manner. In the sixth and what proved to be the deciding contest, Bill scored the goal in dramatic fashion, firing a loose puck past Canadiens’ netminder Gerry McNeil at 2:53 of overtime. Later that summer, he went on a fishing trip with a friend, dentist Henry Hudson, taking a small plane into a remote area in northern Quebec. On their return, the plane crashed, instantly killing both men. It was not until 1962 that the plane and remains were discovered by pilot Ron Boyd. The discovery occurred shortly after the Maple Leafs had won the Stanley Cup. It was the franchise’s first Cup celebration since Barilko’s heroics eleven years earlier.
|1946-47||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||18||3||7||10||33||11||0||3||3||18|
|1947-48||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||57||5||9||14||147||9||1||0||1||17|
|1948-49||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||60||5||4||9||95||9||0||1||1||20|
|1949-50||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||59||7||10||17||85||7||1||1||2||18|
|1950-51||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||58||6||6||12||96||11||3||2||5||31|