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Bobby Baun: A True Playoff Warrior

Nick BarnowskiCorrespondent IApril 22, 2009

We have seen our fair share of hockey playoff warriors over the years.

Guys like Mark Messier, Bobby Orr, and Maurice “Rocket” Richard come to mind when thinking about players who step up to another level during the playoffs.

One man, in particular, took it up a couple of notches in the 1964 Stanley Cup Final.

Forty-five years ago, one of the greatest moments in National Hockey League history took place.

"I knew it was broken; I didn't need any X-rays to tell me that. But I didn't want to miss the overtime. I told the trainer he had to do everything possible to get me out there. He gave me a shot of painkiller, which numbed the ankle, and taped it tight. Then I laced up my skate and went back to the bench."

That’s right.

He broke a bone near his ankle.

And he still played.

Bobby Baun is his name, and his lengthy career is defined by Toronto Maple Leaf and hockey fans for one of his three career playoff goals, scored on April 23, 1964 against the Detroit Red Wings.

It was game six in the best-of-seven series for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Halfway through the third period, the score was tied at 3-3, when Baun took a shot from “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe in the ankle.

The hard-hitting defenseman had to be carried out on a stretcher, but that wasn’t going to stop him from playing again that day.

Baun, who later called it (jokingly) “the best break I ever had,” would return to the Detroit Olympia ice in overtime with the score still 3-3.

Just two minutes into overtime, Baun made history, putting the puck past Detroit goaltender Terry Sawchuck off of an intercepted pass from Red Wing defenseman Al Langlois.

The game winning tally forced a game seven, in which the Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup.

While Baun only scored 40 goals, regular season and playoffs, in his 17-year career, none were bigger than his one to cement himself in NHL history.

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