4 minute read

Georges Vezina

Career, Life End Because Of Tuberculosis

During the season opener against Pittsburgh in his home ice, Mt. Royal Arena, on November 28, 1925, he played in the first period despite a 102-105 degree temperature, fatigue, and serious chest pains. Vezina did not allow one goal. During the intermission, Vezina had an arterial hemorrhage, bled from the mouth, and lost consciousness. The goalie insisted on playing the second period, but collapsed on the ice, bleeding from the mouth, and was carried off. He never played in goal again.

As per his request, Vezina was taken to his home in Chicoutimi, where he was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. While he was dying, the Canadiens did not do well. They were removed from playoff contention a week before his death. Vezina managed to visit his team one last time, shortly before his death. He came to dressing room at the time he would normally come for games. His skates and pads were set out for him, but Vezina only took the sweater (jersey) he wore in the last playoffs, and went home.

Career Statistics

Montreal: Montreal Canadiens.
1910-11 Montreal 16 8 8 0 3.80 0
1911-12 Montreal 18 8 10 0 3.57 0
1912-13 Montreal 20 11 9 0 3.99 1
1913-14 Montreal 20 13 7 0 3.14 1
1914-15 Montreal 20 6 14 0 3.86 0
1915-16 Montreal 24 16 7 1 3.08 0
1916-17 Montreal 20 10 10 0 3.94 0
1917-18 Montreal 22 13 10 0 3.82 1
1918-19 Montreal 18 10 8 0 4.33 1
1919-20 Montreal 24 13 11 0 4.71 0
1920-21 Montreal 24 13 11 0 4.13 0
1921-22 Montreal 24 13 11 1 3.92 0
1922-23 Montreal 24 13 9 2 2.54 2
1923-24 Montreal 24 13 11 0 2.00 3
1924-25 Montreal 30 17 11 2 1.87 5
1925-26 Montreal 1 0 0 0 0.00 0

On March 24, 1926, when he was only 39 years old, Vezina died of tuberculosis. A huge funeral was given for him in Chicoutimi. A year after his death, the Canadiens bought a trophy for the fledgling NHL to be awarded to goaltenders in Vezina's honor. Hockey historians believe that if he had not developed this disease, Vezina could have played for several more seasons. Instead, his legacy as one of the innovators of the goalie position and one of the original stars of the National Hockey League rests on his 15 seasons with Montreal in which he won two Stanley Cups and other league championships. He led the league in goals against average several times, even while ill with tuberculosis. Vezina allowed only 1267 goals in his combined 328 regular season and 39 play off games. As Dan Diamond and Joseph Romain wrote in Hockey Hall of Fame: The Official History of the Game and Its Greatest Stars, "Vezina was the nearest thing to the perfect athlete …. He was a strong competitor on the ice, and always [a] gentleman."

Awards and Accomplishments

1916 Led the Montreal Canadians to their first Stanley Cup; also won the NHA championship
1917 With the Canadiens, won the NHA championship; lost the Stanley Cup to the Seattle Metropolitans
1919 With the Canadiens, won the NHL championship
1924 Led the Montreal Canadians to his second and last Stanley Cup; also won the NHL championship
1925 Won the NHL championship with the Canadiens
1945 Named to the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of its 12 charter members

The Vezina Trophy

The Vezina Trophy was named in honor of Georges Vezina. After his tragic death from tuberculosis, the owners of the Montreal Canadians (Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau, and Joe Cattarinich) donated a trophy to the National Hockey League during the 1926-27 season. The Vezina was originally given to the goaltender who played the most games for his team and allowed the fewest number of goals during the regular season. The first goalie to win it was George Hainsworth, who succeeded Vezina between the pipes for the Canadians. Beginning in the 1964-65 season until the 1981-82 season, the Vezina was given to all the active goalies on the team with the lowest goals against average, as many teams used two goalies after the NHL expanded. After the 1981-82 season, the trophy was given to the best goalie in the league. Jacques Plante won the most Vezinas with seven, followed by Bill Durnan and Dominik Hasek with six each. The modern day winner also received $10,000, with the runners up receiving $6000 and $4000.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsHockeyGeorges Vezina Biography - Early Years, Joined The Montreal Canadiens, Won First Stanley Cup, Chronology, Played Through Injury, Illness