Detroit Red Wings: Johnny Wilson, NHL’s Original "Iron Man" (1929-2011)

January 14th, 2012 by Greg Eno Leave a reply »
He was the NHL’s original Iron Man—a man of perfect attendance, whose offices were located in six Taj Mahals of indoor sports venues.

Long before the tentacles of corporate sponsorship wrapped themselves around the naming of stadiums and arenas, the NHL of Johnny Wilson was played in a half dozen barns, each wonderfully devoid of anything remotely corporate in name, though several were botanical.

Chicago Stadium. Maple Leaf Gardens. The Boston Garden. Madison Square Garden. The Forum. Olympia Stadium.

The names of the arenas screamed hockey.

And Wilson screamed hockey by showing up to work everyday—580 consecutive times, to be exact.

This was the Original Six era—14 games played against each of your five opponents, for a 70-game schedule.

Which means that Johnny Wilson, playing for the Red Wings and Blackhawks in the 1950s, suited up for eight straight seasons without missing a game.

It was hockey without helmets, with shoulder pads smaller than those on today’s women’s attire and with cages around the rink, not Plexiglas.

Travel was by train, sometime ...

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