Hockey legend Lorne (Gump) Worsley passed away 26 January 2007 at the age of 77. He died of a heart attack. Worsley played 21 years in the NHL (National Hockey League) with the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and the Minnesota North Stars. In 1980 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Among his many accolades are a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie for 1952-53 while with the Rangers. He won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL in 1965-66 and 1967-68 while playing with the Canadiens. He also won four Stanley Cups with the Canadiens: 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969. Worsley holds the NHL record among goaltenders for career losses with 352. His lifetime record was 335-352-150 with 43 shutouts. He was a first team all-star in 1968 and played in the All-Star Game in 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1972.
Playing with the New York Rangers, a notoriously bad team with little defence, his record is especially amazing. When asked what team causes him the most trouble, Worsley is said to have quipped, “the Rangers,” in reference to the high number of shots he had to face night after night.
The last of the old-time goalies to play, Worsley didn’t don a mask until his last season in the NHL: 1973-74. This was, even at that time, unheard of and will remain something always spoken of. It is said that you have to be a little crazy to be a goaltender and thinking of playing this position without a mask emphasizes this point.
Worsley suffered from a fear of flying. A fact which speaks of his fortitude given that he came out of retirement to play for the expansion North Stars, where he remained until he left the NHL for good.
He received the “Gump” nickname as a child due to the fact that his hair stuck up like the comic strip character, Andy Gump.
Worsley was always spoken highly of as a person. The jovial goalie was held in high regard by his teammates. He remained a huge spokesperson for the league and participated in many charity events including celebrity golf tournaments. This writer had the privilege of meeting him on numerous occasions when attending such events and always found him to be the easiest of people to approach. He was certainly always willing to give out his autograph when any fans asked. Gump will definitely be missed.