It was as though fate singled out Bill Barilko for immortality.
A poor boy from Northern Ontario who laboured at skating, Barilko, miraculously found himself playing defence on the hockey team of his dreams-the Toronto Maple Leafs. Through five National Hockey League seasons, Barilko emerged as the toast of Toronto, winning four Stanley Cup championships. On April 21, 1951, playing their rivals, the loathed Montreal Canadiens, Bill Barilko scored the overtime goal, winning the Toronto Maple Leafs their seventh Stanley Cup. It was the last game he ever played.
Four months later, preparing to return to Toronto for training camp, Barilko made a fateful decision and planned one final fishing trip to a favoured spot on the east side of James Bay. Neither Barilko nor his friend, pilot Dr. Henry Hudson, were heard from again, prompting a massive aerial search. Eleven years later, the remains of both men were discovered in the remnants of their small aircraft, a few miles outside of Cochrane, Ontario.
It wasn’t until Barilko’s body was found, that the Leafs again hoisted the Stanley Cup. They won the Cup that same year-1962.
Bill Barilko’s life has been celebrated for more than fifty years. The impeccable shot taken by Nat Turofsky is the most requested photograph in the archives of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Toronto Star selected Barilko’s Stanley Cup-winning goal as one of the top three sporting moments in Toronto history in December 2003, the National Post called Barilko’s 1950-51 Leaf team the best Toronto hockey team of all time. The Tragically Hip has even celebrated Bill Barilko’s legend in their song, “Fifty Mission Cap.”
Barilko: Without a Trace chronicles the extraordinary story of this immensely popular athlete and includes a new chapter on the rediscovered crash site. Teammates Ted Kennedy, Allan Stanley, Gus Mortson and Howie Meeker are among those who share stories of their sporting life with Bill. Childhood friends and his grieving girlfriend explain the Bill we didn’t read about. Those involved in both the search and discovery tell their amazing tales. And the entire story is lovingly woven together through the immaculate memories of Bill’s sister, Anne.