Montreal Canadiens prospect Blake Geoffrion was released from Montreal General Hospital Wednesday, only five days after sustaining an extremely serious skull fracture. Geoffrion’s father, Dan Geoffrion, says his son is “lucky to be alive”.
Blake is also lucky to have access to excellent doctors and medical staff, who operated and treated him for the depressed skull fracture injury. The advancements in today’s medical world did not exist 75 years ago, when another family member also sustained a very serious injury on the rink.
If there is anyone who should know how lucky Blake is, it is Blake’s dad. Through a personal family tragedy, Father Dan knows all too well.
On January 28, 1937, the Canadiens hosted the Chicago Black Hawks in just another regular season game. While chasing down the puck, NHL Hall of Famer Howie Morenz (Dan’s grandfather) had his skate wedged into the boards. Following him down the ice, Hawks D Earl Seibert was unable to stop in time, barreling into Morenz from behind and violently landing on him.
It was said, the entire arena heard Morenz’ leg shatter in four different places. In an instant, it was no long just another regular season game. Not by a long shot.
Father Dan’s grandfather would not be as lucky as his son Blake. Morenz went literally from the last game of his life to his eventual death bed. Morenz’ injury in his last game was not only career ending, it eventually would lead to complications, which would cause his death five and half weeks later in hospital.
On March 8th, Morenz was complaining of chest pains while still in hospital, recovering from his leg injury. As he attempted to stand up and visit the washroom, he fell to the floor and died of a heart attack. Morenz would not have the good fortune to walk out of the hospital, like his great-grandson did on Wednesday.
Blake is expected to make a full recovery and, according to his father, keeps asking why this happened to him. This unanswerable question is obviously the same exact question great-grand-daddy Morenz was also probably asking himself 75 years ago. It was reported that Morenz was suffering from severe depression during his very difficult convalescence period.
At a ripe 24 years of age, Blake has found out that there are not always answers in life, just questions, and they apply to many, if not all of us. They certainly applied to his legendary great-grandfather. It is much too early to even start to think about when, and if, Blake will ever play again. His father says his son gets tired quickly and needs to sleep off the fatigue, something which is apparently normal in such cases. The reality is there are no shortcuts to a full recovery from such a serious head injury.
When Canadiens Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur retired (for the last time) with the Quebec Nordiques, his advice was “Play every game as if it is your last one”. For Blake Geoffrion, a slight modification of Lafleur’s advice to, “Play every day like as if it is your last one” is now more more applicable for him, as it should be for all of us.
I am sure his pioneering great-grand-daddy, Howie Morenz, would have agreed with the slight modification of the “Flower’s” advice, as well. Father Dan sure does.