The lesson Harry Lumley didn’t learn in 1947 was: no shinny for you. By the time he hurt himself again in an exhibition game (above, in January of 1950), it was too late for the big Detroit Red Wings goaltender: for the second time in three years it looked like his season had come to an end in what the papers called a “comedy” game.
The ’47 story is this: playing in an exhibition game at the beginning of March in Toronto, he stretched, strained or otherwise distressed or his groin. He played on in the NHL, well enough to help the Red Wings to pull themselves into the playoffs. But just before the team climbed aboard the train to Toronto for the season’s last game, Lumley’s groin … “relapsed” is what the papers said. They were hoping to have him back for the start of the playoffs, but when the groin didn’t respond well to penicillin treatments, he headed for surgery at Detroit’s Harper Hospital.
The Wings called up a Saskatooner, rookie Ralph “Red” Almas, from Indianapolis to take his place. The Leafs beat him 5-3 in his debut that Sunday, and then again, in overtime, on Wednesday when the two teams met to open the playoffs. Saturday he finally beat them, 9-1, again on Toronto ice. He was “a bulwark,” the papers said. As the series then turned back to Detroit, Leafs’ manager Conn Smythe said his team was lucky not to be two games down.
It all fell apart back home. Along with Lumley, Detroit was missing captain Sid Abel (pleurisy) while defenceman Bill Quackenbush was labouring on a bad knee. Toronto won the next three games and moved on to outdo Montreal and win the Stanley Cup.
Almas would play two more games before his NHL career wrapped up, both losses.
In ’50, waiting for the ambulance to come to take him back to the Harper, what could Harry Lumley do but lie there by the Cokes, wondering whether it was all over, again, for another year.