Although he was not noted for his offensive skills, Bill Barilko scored one of the most celebrated goals in NHL history during the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals between Toronto and Montreal. This series was the only championship final that required overtime in every contest. In game five, the extra session was nearly three minutes old when Barilko spotted a loose puck near the Montreal crease, He dove from the blue line and fired a shot over Montreal Goaltender Gerry McNeil's outstretched arm to give the Leafs the Cup.--Pro Set Hockey 91/92 Series One Card #340
Unfortunately, it was the last goal of Barilko's career. He disappeared that summer on a fishing trip, and the Leafs didn't win another cup until 1962, the year his body was found.
Bill Barilko was born on March 25th, 1927, in Timmins, Ontario. His entire NHL career was spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs, from his rookie year in 1946, to his tragic final season in 1951. He was known throughout the league as one of the toughest defencemen around, both in his heavy bodychecks, and his fearlessness in blocking shots.
"He was very tough and aggressive and his spirit and hard hitting made him
a valuable player for the Leafs. He always managed to get a piece of you
as you went by and he left many a bump on plenty of players. I suppose
the two most clear memories I have of him are the overtime goal and
his heavy checking." -Maurice Richard
Barilko was never much of a scorer though. In five years and 47 games in the playoffs he managed only 5 goals and seven assists. What he lacked in quantity he made up for in quality though. His Cup-winning goal is considered to be one of the greatest goals in the history of the Maple Leafs, and clips of it are aired often during televised Toronto playoff games, and are available for viewing on the Web. It is a beautiful goal, with Barilko suddenly flying in from off camera, slapping the puck into the net mid-dash, then being sent diving to the ice.
A little over four months after his goal, Barilko and his friend Henry Hudson were returning to Timmins from a fishing trip, when they, and their single-engine plane disappeared. Massive search efforts failed to find any trace of them, and the disappearance remained a mystery for elevn years. It was even rummored for a while that Barilko, of Russian descent, had defected to the Soviets to teach his skills. It wasn't until June 9th, 1962 that bush pilot Gary Fields discovered the wreck 100km north of Cochrane, Ontario. A few months earlier, the Leafs had won thier first Stanley Cup since Barilko's disappearance. Bill Barilko was laid to rest in Timmins, Ontario.
The Toronto Maple Leafs do not retire many numbers. Aside from the league-wide retirement of Wayne Gretzky's #99, only two players have been honoured in this way. The first was Irvine "Ace" Bailey, who suffered a career ending brain injury during a game in 1933, and the second was #5, Bill Barilko.
Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another until 1962 the year he was discovered
I stole this from a hockey card I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap I worked it in to look like that
--The Tragically Hip, Fifty Mission Cap