Lefty Wilson

Ross "Lefty" Wilson was the long time equipment trainer of the Detroit Red Wings. However when he first started he also served as the team's practice goalie, and since team's only carried one goal at the time, he also served as an emergency replacement if a team's goalie got hurt!

Wilson was a capable backstopper in junior hockey, but he had a less than memorable professional career. He was signed by the Wings in 1944 and reported to the Wings farm team in Omaha where he'd also serve as the assistant trainer, a job he took only to make sure he got to play in Omaha.

Red Wings boss Jack Adams pretty much summed up Wilson's career on the ice in this quote - "As a goaltender, he makes a pretty good trainer."

Wilson eventually was promoted to the Red Wings to serve as the equipment trainer as well as practice netminder. He quickly made a name for himself as the loudest man in hockey, as he loved to yell words of encouragement to his players, not to mention some less than kind words to the referees.

As mentioned earlier, Lefty would also serve as the emergency replacement goalie if one of the team's goalies got hurt. This happened on three occasions.

The first was on October 10, 1953 when he replaced the legendary Terry Sawchuk, who hurt his kneecap. Wilson stepped in and never surrendered a goal in 16 minutes of play.

On January 22, 1956, the Maple Leafs Harry Lumley had to leave a game against the Wings and Lefty had to dress up for the Leafs, and face his usual comrades. Much to the excitement of the crowd, Wilson shut down his own team in 13 minutes of action. On one rush he picked the net off of its moorings and turned the net around facing the boards so that the wings couldn't score on him! The referees of course were not amused, but Lefty would claim it was an accident. The NHL had to change the rule after that incident.

On December 29, 1957, Wilson dressed for the Boston Bruins as their starting goalie Don Simmons pulled out of the game just 8 minutes in. Wilson played brilliantly for the final 52 minutes, surrendering his only NHL goal against en route to tying the team that gave him his pay checks.

For a trainer, his goaltending stats are quite remarkable. Just one goal against in 85 minutes of action gave him a career GAA of 0.71! He is also almost assuredly the only man in NHL history to play in just three NHL games, each of which were played with a different team.


Dougo 12:33 PM  

Ootstanding post!

Anonymous,  6:19 PM  

Should also add that he made Terry Sawchuk's goalie masks.

Unknown 8:09 AM  

I was Lefty's neighbor. He was the kindest man ever!! He made a small pond in his side yard every year for us youngsters to go out and skate on!! I think about him often and share with my friends and family what he meant to me as a young fan of the game!!

Unknown 8:11 AM  

Lefty was one of the kindest men I ever knew. He would fill up a low spot in his side yard to make a pond for all of us youngsters to skate. He told us so many stories of the old days. I often tell some of those stories to my friends and family! He truly was a great one!! And yes he did start making masks!! (I heard all about that too!!)

Anonymous,  7:50 AM  

lefty made a goalie mask for me when i was 12 or 13,,,,im 61 now and still have it !!!! amazing !!!

Unknown 6:10 PM  

I worked at a golf course with Lefty. He was such a modest and kind hearted person. I think I'll have to pick up a replica mask to hang by the bar a a memory for our great conversations. "Lord love a duck". He use to say that when it would rain and we would be sitting for hours waiting to work

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