Reading Mike Heika's retrospective on Bill Masterton, it really does seem quite astounding that it wasn't until a decade after his death that the NHL made helmets mandatory.
The AHL made visors mandatory within months in 2006 after Jordan Smith, who nows plays in the CIS at Lakehead, lost the vision in his left eye after being struck by a deflected shot.
Masterton suffered his fatal injury in a Minnesota North Stars-Oakland Seals game 40 years ago today Jan. 13, 1968, and died two days later. Much obliged to Heika for pulling Masterton out of the cracks of history. It's not a chapter the NHL would be especially eager to relive, since Masterton had worn a helmet in college as a member of the U.S. national team and took it off since that de rigeur at the time.
(The 50th anniversary of Willie O'Ree becoming the first black player in the NHL is also this week.)
There are a couple coincidences between Masterton and Steve Moore. Both were old to be a rookie. Both were educated men who took an odd route to the NHL (Moore from Harvard, and Masterton, who had a master's degree, was one of the first college players to make the NHL).
(Speaking of Jan. 13, a happy birthday goes out to Greg Hughes today. It's one of those milestone birthdays.)
Bill Masterton's death changed hockey forever; Masterton's memory resonates within sport 40 years later (Mike Heika, Dallas Morning News)
NHL trail blazer O'Ree to be celebrated (Eric Gilmore, Contra Costa Times)