Considered by many to be the greatest goaltender to ever play the game of ice hockey, Terry Sawchuk grew up in a working class neighborhood, playing ice hockey on an outdoor rink. Nicknamed "Ukey" because of his Ukrainian ancestry, Sawchuk began his professional career at age 17, winning rookie-of-the-year honors in the United States Hockey League. He won rookie-of-the-year honors again after being promoted to the Indianapolis Capitals of the American Hockey League. Called up to the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League (NHL) for the 1950-51 season, he continued his outstanding play winning the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie making him the first player to win the rookie-of-the-year award in three different professional leagues.
In 1952, Terry Sawchuk led the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in the minimum eight games of two best of seven series during which he recorded four shutouts and allowed only five goals. He led the NHL in wins in each of his first five years while being named to the All-Star team. In 1955, he was traded to the Boston Bruins where he had a difficult time adjusting. During the 1956-57 season he retired from the game, succumbing to severe stress. However, the following year he returned to play after being traded back to Detroit. He was traded again in 1964, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he won another Vezina Trophy in 1965 and helped the Leafs win the 1967 Stanley Cup.
Sawchuk's career was plagued by injuries, many of which he said nothing about while playing in great pain. He played for more than a dozen years without a protective facemask and as a result, received over 400 stitches to his face. He struggled with bouts of depression that went untreated. His illness often affected his conduct and he suffered severe internal injuries after an alcohol induced shoving match with his New York Rangers teammate Ron Stewart. Terry Sawchuk died a few weeks later and was interred in Mount Hope Cemetery in Pontiac, Michigan. An investigation cleared Stewart of any wrongdoing in the incident.
Terry Sawchuk finished his hockey career with 447 wins, a record that stood for thirty years until the year 2000 when it was broken by Patrick Roy. His career record of 103 shutouts remains unsurpassed. In 1971 Sawchuk was posthumously elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for his contribution to hockey in the United States. In 1997, the book Shutout: The Legend of Terry Sawchuk by sports author Brian Kendall, was published. In 2001, he was honored with his image on a Canadian postage stamp.