The Don Head, George Stephen Saga


George Stephen figured he should probably just forget about it. Most didn’t believe him anyway. I figured he had probably inhaled too many fumes from the Powell River mill. But George insisted he’d seen it, only now he was thinking he might be the only one on the planet who had.

George would say often that one night, more than 50 years ago on Hockey Night in Canada, the Boston Bruins, in Toronto for a game against the Leafs, were issued a delayed penalty, and as soon as the referee raised his arm, Bruin goaltender Don Head, instead of skating to the bench for an extra attacker, smartly skated to the blueline, goalie pads and all, and played a shift as a defenceman until a Leaf eventually touched the puck, and back to his net Mr. Head went.

Sure, George. The goalie played on the powerplay? Maybe Foster Hewitt sang the national anthem. Maybe Conn Smythe took on Whipper Billy Watson in a pre-game wrestling match. What, the Bruins didn’t have a defenceman who could go out instead?

George insisted, though. When Chicago goalie great Glenn Hall came to Powell River, George asked him, but Hall had no idea what our man was talking about. A letter to the Hockey Hall of Fame garnered a reply and all they could say was they had no idea, but if it were true, it would make a great story. And George asked Powell River resident Andy McCallum, who had played with Head for the Ontario Senior Windsor Bulldogs, but all Andy could say was he wouldn’t be surprised because Head was such a good skater, even with goalie pads on. (By the way, Andy McCallum’s old Senior Powell River Regals sweater is being retired in March at the local arena),

There was only one last thing George could do. Ask the man himself, Don Head. If he could find him.

George somehow discovered that Head was alive and well and living in Portland, Oregon, and after mistakenly getting a few others of the same name in Portland first, the goalie was finally tracked down, and George asked that nagging question. – did he leave his net and become a defenceman with his goalie equipment on?

Head thought for a second, and gave an answer George wasn’t really hoping for. “I don’t remember ever doing that,” he said, and after a few more pleasantries, George politely said goodbye. He was even more convinced to just forget the whole thing.

And that should be the end of the story.

But the phone rang the very next night at George’s house, and sure enough, Don Head was on the line from Portland. “Hello George,” he said. “If I’m ever in a trivia game and need an answer, I’m phoning you.” George asked why, and Head continued. “You were absolutely right. My daughter and I went through my scrapbooks and found the write-up of me skating up the ice and playing the point on the power play. It was a Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada, and we beat Toronto 4-3. I’d forgotten all about that.”

Head wasn’t finished there. He sent a copy of the news story to George and enclosed a little note that said: “Maybe this will convince everyone that you didn’t really inhale those fumes at the mill after all.”

It took more than 40 years, but George Stephen finally has proof that he saw what he saw. All it took was asking Don Head himself. It was all true. The goalie played the point, pads and all.

13 thoughts on “The Don Head, George Stephen Saga”

  1. This is an awesome story and if this was done today, it would be all over the net and tv. I’d love to see Carey go up as far as he could and take part – especially if it is a delayed penalty. Hopefully someone like Karberle won’t shoot it backwards into our net.

    I think one of my favorite stories involves the Rangers – they had one goalie and he got injured I think and there was no one to replace him so the coach when in the net to play. This was back in the 30s I think.

    When we had Martin, I kept thinking of how funny it would have been to see him do that.

    I’m glad the guy finally got proven right. It’s a nice feeling, especially after all those years.

  2. Dennis, Luciena is absolutely right.

    It’s wonderful stories like these and the great people who come here that make Dennis Kane’s blog the best site in the world.

  3. Dennis,

    That’s a great story Dennis. I just love the way he rings up the man himself when all else fails.


  4. btw Dennis,

    Don Head looks like a handsome fella, but while those mill fumes may not have wrecked George’s memory they don’t seem to have helped his general physique. He’s awful thin and baldy looking.

  5. Stories like this are much better than the depressing ones of Gomez, Kaberle and Markov providing a whole lot of nothing but suck for almost $18M. If Molson has that money to throw away, how about free beer. Quick calculation: 41 home games with 21000 fans each buying 2 beers for $10 pays their salary.

  6. Chris, 18 million. Tabernac. Just for them I’m going to drink 4 beer a game if it helps.

  7. Darth, that was Lester Patrick. I’d like to see Bruce Boudreau in nets too. And yes, it was great when George finally got proven right. He had never stopped saying it happened.

  8. Blue Bayou, he does look a little thin. And there’s one thing about George. He’s one of the best pool players in town.

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