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Essay: Still Chasing the Stratford Streak, 80 Years After He Left the Ice

Chicago visited the Forum late in January. A big Black Hawk defenseman, Earl Seibert, caught Morenz on a rush, forced him behind the net. Morenz went down; the tip of his left skate dug into the boards and got stuck. When Seibert came crashing in, Morenz’s leg snapped. The Montreal newspaper La Patrie noted “un sinistre craquement” — a sinister crack.

“I’m all through,” Morenz is reported to have said.

A photograph on La Patrie’s front page the next morning showed him peering up from his hospital bed. Inside the paper, readers could examine radiographs of his fractures. “Rarely has surgery seen such a severe break,” Dr. Hector Forgues said.

A few days later, Morenz told reporters, “Don’t count me out yet.” In the weeks that followed, his room was filled with well-wishers, and an air of optimism. He was said to be mending well.

Then something happened.

Columnists mentioned “a violent nervous breakdown.” Vague at the time, the story hasn’t become clearer. Morenz was restrained in a straitjacket, a friend later said. Visitors were barred, and a guard stood at the door.

Morenz died on March 8: pulmonary embolism. The papers said “heart…

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