Bill Durnan (William Ronald Durnan)

Bill Durnan

Bill Durnan, whom John McGourty of NHL.com refers to as “the greatest nearly forgotten player in the history of the NHL,” only played seven seasons in the NHL due to him being 27 upon entering the league, but accomplished much in his short career. Durnan was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender in each of his first four seasons, from 1943–44 to 1946–47, becoming the first to capture the award in four successive seasons. A poor season by the Montreal Canadiens in 1947–48 allowed Turk Broda of the Toronto Maple Leafs to end Durnan’s streak. Durnan, however, returned to prominence the next season, capturing his fifth and sixth Vezina Trophies in 1948–49 and 1949–50. Durnan was also selected to the First Team All-Star six times during his career, including four consecutive selections from 1944–47. During the 1947–48 season, Bill Durnan served as the Canadiens’ captain. However, he left the crease so often to argue calls that other teams claimed he was giving the Canadiens unscheduled timeouts. After the season, the NHL passed a rule barring goaltenders from performing the duties of captain, known as the “Durnan Rule.” Following the 1949–50 NHL season, at the age of 35, Durnan retired, no longer able to stand the stress of playing professional hockey. He later went into coaching, most notably with the Ottawa Senators of the QSHL in 1950–51, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen of the OHA in 1958–59. Durnan set a long-standing modern NHL record between February 26 and March 6, 1949, when he registered four consecutive shutouts, not allowing a goal over a span of 309 minutes, 21 seconds. This record stood until 2004, when Brian Boucher, then of the Phoenix Coyotes, broke it. He was ranked 5th all-time in career wins, shutouts, GAA. Bill Durnan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964. In 383 regular-season games, Durnan had 208 wins, and 112 losses, with 34 shutouts and a 2.36 goals-against average. He had 27 wins, and 12 losses, with two shutouts and a 2.07 average in 45 playoff games. Durnan also won the 1940 Allan Cup with the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils. He died of kidney failure on October 31, 1972. He suffered from diabetes in his last years and his health had been failing steadily.

 

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Born

  • January, 22, 1916
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Died

  • October, 31, 1972
  • North York, Metropolitan Toronto, Canada

Cause of Death

  • kidney failure

Cemetery

  • Highland Memory Gardens
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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