History of the National Hockey League/1917–1942/Toronto Maple Leafs/Ace Bailey
Ace Bailey benefit game
On December 13, 1933, Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore, in a daze following what he thought was a check by Toronto's Ace Bailey, charged the latter player from behind, flipping Bailey into the air and causing him to suffer a severe skull fracture after he landed on his head. The check was so vicious that Bailey was given the last rites before being transported to the hospital in Boston. Neurosurgeons operated throughout the night to save his life; however, Bailey's prognosis was so grim that morning papers printed his death notice. Bailey survived, but he never played professionally again. Shore ultimately served a 16-game suspension for the hit, and avoided being charged with manslaughter had Bailey died.
To raise money for Bailey's recovery, Maple Leaf Gardens hosted the Ace Bailey All-Star Benefit Game on February 14, 1934. The Maple Leafs defeated an all-star team of players from the rest of the league 7–3 while raising over $20,000. Prior to the game, the Leafs announced that no Toronto player would ever wear Bailey's #6 again, marking the first time in NHL history that a team retired a player's jersey number. Before the game, each player came out and shook Bailey's hand as they received their all-star jersey. The last player to do so was Eddie Shore. The crowd, which had fallen silent as Shore approached, erupted into loud cheering as Bailey extended his hand towards his attacker. Elmer Ferguson described the moment as "the most completely dramatic event I ever saw in hockey".