William “Bill’ Masterton earned his MA in finance at the University of Denver after playing junior hockey in St. Boniface, Manitoba. While at DU, he received his All-American and MVP honors during the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament in 1961.
For a time, Masterton played with the Montreal Canadians, but retired in 1964 to join the U.S. National Team. In June of 1967, the Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas Stars) brought Masterton in as a center.
On January 13, 1968, while body-checking two Oakland Seals, Masterton fell backwards and hit his head against the ice. He was taken to the hospital, but never regained consciousness. Two days later, Masterton died. He was the first on-ice casualty in National Hockey League history.
The tragedy of Masterton’s death led many hockey players to invest in the protective measure of wearing helmets.
Minnesota retired Masterton’s #19. The NHL honored him by posthumously inducting him into the NHL Hall of Fame and establishing the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.