Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Lorne 'Gump' Worsley - The Pinnacle
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Lorne 'Gump' Worsley poses with fellow 1980 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Harry Lumley (left) and Jack Butterfield (right). "There's no feeling in the world like it!" recalls Worsley of his Induction.
(April 6, 2004) -- One of the great characters ever to pull a sweater over his head was Lorne 'Gump' Worsley. He was also one of the finest goaltenders ever to play the game.

The Montreal, Quebec native was born May 14, 1929. Worsley played his first professional season in 1949-50 with the New York Rovers of the now-defunct Eastern Hockey League, and promptly led his team to a first place finish, winning a berth on the First All-Star Team in the process. In 1950-51, Gump moved to the New York Rangers' USHL affiliate, the St. Paul Saints. There, he collected a carload of awards — Rookie of the Year, Top Goaltender and selection to the First All-Star Team.

Still waiting for a chance at a spot in the NHL, Worsley played with the Pacific Coast Hockey League's Saskatoon Quakers in 1951-52, where he was named to the Second All-Star Team.

Although he started the 1952-53 season in Saskatoon, an injury to Rangers' regular Charlie Rayner earned Worsley a call and a spot between the pipes for the New York Rangers. The Rangers finished last that season, but Gump so impressed the NHL that he was chosen the Calder Trophy winner as NHL Rookie of the Year.

Irony being what it is, after a fine first year showing, Worsley was sent to Vancouver of the WHL in 1953-54 while Johnny Bower tended goal for the Rangers. Gump enjoyed an extraordinary season in the minors — led the Canucks to a first place finish, named Goaltender of the Year, selected to the WHL's First All-Star Team and was named the league's Most Valuable Player on the way to the WHL championship. The next season, he was back in the National Hockey League.

Through twenty-two NHL seasons, Gump Worsley was part of Stanley Cup championships in 1964-65, 1965-66, 1967-68 and 1968-69. He was selected to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1968 and to the Second Team in 1966. Worsley and partner Charlie Hodge shared the Vezina Trophy for lowest goals-against average in 1965-66. Gump and Rogie Vachon shared the same award in 1967-68.

Through his extraordinary career, Lorne 'Gump' Worsley played 861 games, winning 335, losing 352 and tying 150. He collected 43 shutouts and finished his brilliant career with a goals-against average of 2.91

Former Rangers GM Muzz Patrick, the individual who traded Gump to the Montreal Canadiens, congratulates the newly-inducted Worsley.

In 1980, Gump Worsley was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Joining Worsley that year were Jack Butterfield, elected as a Builder for his exceptional work as an executive in the American Hockey League, fellow goaltender Harry Lumley, who spent his career with Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York and Toronto, and Lynn Patrick, who spent ten years starring with the New York Rangers.

"I was at the meeting in Toronto at the Hall of Fame having dinner with Lou Nanne and John Mariucci and a bunch of other guys," recalls the astonished Worsley. "We were sitting at the table when they announced who was going in that year. I was one of them. It was a surprise to everyone at the table."

It was a terrific reward for an outstanding career. "The Hall of Fame put the icing on the cake. There's no feeling in the world like it!"

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager, Special Projects and Publishing.