Bill Barilko's Tragic Death Months After Scoring Stanley Cup-Winning Goal

"Bill Barilko's Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Maple Leafs in 1951 was his last, as he tragically died in a plane crash just 4 months later. His story became an unforgettable part of hockey history."

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Salman Khan
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Bill Barilko's Tragic Death Months After Scoring Stanley Cup-Winning Goal

Bill Barilko's Tragic Death Months After Scoring Stanley Cup-Winning Goal

On April 21, 1951, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Bill Barilko scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens. The Maple Leafs won their fourth Stanley Cup in five years, defeating the Canadiens in a five-game final. Barilko's game-winning goal in overtime was the last goal he ever scored.

Just four months later, at the age of 24, Barilko tragically died in a plane crash. The wreckage of the plane was not found until 1962, 11 years after the crash.

Barilko played five seasons for the Maple Leafs and was a member of four Stanley Cup winning teams. The game-winning goal in Game 5 of the 1951 Stanley Cup Final was Barilko's biggest moment in the NHL, making it one of the most memorable and touching moments in Maple Leafs history given his premature death that summer.

Why this matters: Bill Barilko's story is a tragic reminder of how life can change in an instant. His Stanley Cup-winning goal and subsequent death at a young age have become an unforgettable part of Maple Leafs history and NHL history.

The Maple Leafs honored Barilko by retiring his #5 jersey in 1992. His story was also immortalized in the 1992 song "Fifty Mission Cap" by Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip. Barilko's legacy lives on as one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking tales in the chronicles of hockey history, forever linking his championship-winning heroics with the tragedy of his death.

Key Takeaways

  • Maple Leafs' Bill Barilko scored Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1951.
  • Barilko died in a plane crash just 4 months after his heroics.
  • Wreckage of the plane not found until 1962, 11 years later.
  • Maple Leafs retired Barilko's #5 jersey in 1992 to honor him.
  • Barilko's story immortalized in the song "Fifty Mission Cap" by The Tragically Hip.