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