The most celebrated goaltender in Red Wings history—indeed, maybe in NHL history—was a tormented man. It’s been said that you have to be a little off your rocker to want to throw yourself into the path of vulcanized rubber discs for a living. Terry Sawchuk may not have been crazy, but he wasn’t happy.
It’s been documented—by his teammates, by his son, by those who covered him. Sawchuk, the Hall of Famer who did three stints with the Red Wings from 1949 to 1969, was a tragically sad man, for the most part.
Sawchuk was like the comedian who makes your sides burst with laughter, but who himself is devoid of joy. Kind of like the troubled Lenny Bruce, who, like Sawchuk, was dead by age 40.
Sawchuk dominated NHL shooters in his day, racking up 103 shutouts (a record long considered unbreakable untilNew Jersey’s Marty Brodeur proved otherwise) and guarding the Detroit goal like an Irish beat cop in the Bowery.