The papers broke the bad news on December 13, 1956 and it was this: Terry Sawchuk, star goalie for the first-place Bruins, was in Carney Hospital with infectious mononucleosis. Dr. Edward Browne didn’t know when he’d be back on the ice – it might be two months. There was no immediate word on how Sawchuk, 26, was faring, but his coach, Milt Schmidt, diagnosed himself: he felt like he’d been hit between the eyes. The Bruins called up 23-year-old Norm Defelice from Hershey of the American League to fill their goal; soon GM Lynn Patrick would be trying to acquire former NHLer Harry Lumley from Chicago’s farm team in Buffalo. Chicago turned down the cash that was offered, but the next day there was good news from the hospital: Sawchuk would be back on the ice by the end of the month. And so he was, on December 27, in a 5-3 loss to Detroit. He played seven more games after that and then in mid-January stunned the Bruins by quitting the team. His nerves were shot, he told Schmidt. Defelice replaced him again in the nets while the Boston Globe wondered, with everyone else, “Will Sawchuk Return?” Said GM Patrick: “The sooner everybody gets off Sawchuk’s back the better it will be, and I am sure he will be back with us in about a month.” He wasn’t, as it turned out. Within a month the Bruins had brought in Don Simmons to relieve Defelice.
Sawchuk, meanwhile, went to work as a “manufacturer’s representative.” He had a company, Terry Sawchuk and Associates. By April there was word he wanted to return to the NHL, with Detroit, maybe, where GM Jack Adams was interested.