Sault Legends: Wayne Maki

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Wayne Maki was not only known for being Chico’s brother but a goal scorer for Vancouver and for an incident that some of us would like to forget.

In 1969 Maki was playing for the St. Louis Blues. In a preseason game on September 21, 1969, Maki and Boston Bruins defenceman “Terrible” Ted Green engaged in a violent stick-swinging fight.

Broadcasting legend Dan Kelly described the incident as “one of the most horrifying, most violent exchanges I’ve ever seen in hockey.”

After narrowly avoiding an angry strike by Green, Maki retaliated with his own stick and hit Green in the head. Green suffered a fractured skull and a brain injury.

“I could see right away that Green was badly hurt,” Kelly said. “When he tried to get up, his face was contorted and his legs began to buckle under him. It was dreadful. I almost became physically ill watching him struggle because I knew this was very, very serious. I remember it like it happened yesterday.”

Assault charges were laid against Green and Maki. The NHL suspended and fined both players. Maki was suspended for 30 days and Green for 13 games “if and when he returns to hockey.” Green missed the entire 1969-70 season, but did return to action and played for nearly another decade.

Perhaps disturbed by the incident Maki never stuck with the Blues that season.  The Vancouver Canucks claimed Maki in the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft. Maki was a major force in Vancouver, being among the team’s scoring leaders in each of the club’s first two seasons.

Maki’s career came to a sudden halt in December 1972 when he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. He died later that season, on May 12, 1974. He was only 29 years old.

The Canucks took Maki’s #11 jersey out of circulation ever since, though Mark Messier wore the number when he joined the team in 1997. No player has worn #11 since Messier’s departure in 2000.

In 246 games played Wayne Maki scored 57 goals, 79 assists, 136 points, and 184 penalty minutes in regular season play. In 2 post-season games played, he added 1 goal and 2 penalty minutes.

As a Greyhound, Maki scored an amazng 43 goals and 31 assists in his only season with them. That was back in 1963-64.

Maki started his career in Chicago in 1967-68. He managed to score five times and get ten points in his rookie season.

Maki would get 14 power play goals in his short career, most of them with Vancouver and seven of his 57 goals were game winners.