From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL
By Brad James Lombardo 
hockey book
hockey book
"Profiles of six pro hockey players, all of whom tragically died while still playing in the National Hockey League ."

Bill Masterton, Terry Sawchuk, Tim Horton, Pelle Lindbergh, John Kordic, Steve Chiasson

Photographs courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

Features:  Endnotes and player statistics


Profiles of six hockey players, all of whom died tragically, while still playing in the National Hockey League:

  • Chapter 1 - Bill Masterton (1938-1968)
  • Chapter 2 - Terry Sawchuk (1929-1970)
  • Chapter 3 - Tim Horton (1930-1974)
  • Chapter 4 - Pelle Lindbergh (1959-1985)
  • Chapter 5 - John Kordic (1965-1992)
  • Chapter 6 - Steve Chiasson (1967-1999)



















Studying in Library

From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL

Book Reviews


Book Review - by Sal Barry

(Source: page 8 of the November 23, 2015 issue of The Hockey News Magazine)

"Tragic Tales" by Sal Barry

Were Sawchuk and Kordic doomed? Was there more behind Masterton's demise than just hitting his head?

WHEN A FORMER PLAYER passes away, the hockey community is saddened by the loss.  But when a player dies in the midst of his career, it cust much deeper. Over 160 pages, From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL tells the stories of six players whose lives ended too early: Bill Masterton, Terry Sawchuk, Tim Horton, Pelle Lindbergh, John Kordic and Steve Chiasson.

First time author Brad J. Lombardo does an admirable job of handling such a heavy subject. The book is thoroughly researched and recollects each player's accomplishments, the events that led to their deaths and the aftermath.

The chapters on Sawchuk and Kordic are particularly strong. Lombardo details how both were already broken men by the time they reached the pinnacle of their careers. Their untimely demises seemed inevitable.

And while the much-told story about Masterton's death is that he hit his head on the ice after being checked by two opponents, Lombardo gives several accounts that suggest contributing factors.

Book Review - by Gabriel Tjordman, Dawson College, MTL

(Source: Online Review)

"Sad but true pro hockey stories...." by Gaby Tjordman

My friend Brad Lombardo has written a very cool hockey book - From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL is truly a triumph in writing; the book takes an up close and personal look at six pro hockey players who died tragically and before their time, including legendary goalie Terry Sawchuk and the iconic Tim Horton. 

Each of the six players is featured in a separate, very well documented chapter - these chapters are full of wonderful stories about their family lives and their playing days and, of course, their unfortunate deaths. The stories are well sourced, as reflected in the significant end notes.  There are even statistics on each player and the photos are pretty cool too!  The book is a great Sunday morning read - I enjoyed the story on ex-Hab John Kordic.


Book Review


"From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL"

Athletes are immortal to us.  They are bigger, faster, and stronger. They accomplish amazing feats of physicality that most of us can only dream of. So when an athlete passes away in the midst of their career, it usually comes as a shock. How could this person die? They're so much better, at least on the surface, of everyone else? "From Triumph To Tragedy" is a book by first-time author Brad J. Lombardo that profiles six players who died during their careers: Bill Masterton, Terry Sawchuk, Tim Horton, Pelle Lindbergh, John Kordic, and Steve Chiasson.

Throughout 160 pages, Lombardo exhaustively recollects each player's career accomplishments, the events that lead to their death, and the aftermath. For example, the chapter about Terry Sawchuk details his entire career, his family problems, his declining health, his off-ice fight with a teammate that lead to his hospitalization, the surgeries to save his life, his funeral, and the subsequent investigation and grand-jury hearing.

While Lombardo does an admirable job of writing about such a heavy subject, his book is at best when discussing Sawchuk, Kordic, and Masterton.  Lindbergh, Chiasson, and Horton each made a poor decision that lead to their deaths. On the other hand, Sawchuk, Kordic, and, to a lesser extent, Masterton were already broken men - physically, mentally, or both - by the time their careers were in full swing. The stories of these three men were truly tragic, and their untimely demises seemed all but inevitable. And though Masterton's death is widely believed to have been caused by an injury suffered in a game, Lombardo gives several accounts that suggest other contributing factors.

What I like about "From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL" - the author has thoroughly researched each subject, and included a list of sources for each player's chapter, should you wish to seek out any further information on your own.

What I don't like about "From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL" - the author relies solely on what is published and did not conduct any of his own interviews, with former teammates or surviving family members.

(Author note: I actually did conduct several interviews, just not as many as I would have liked.  Face to face player interviews included lots of hockey greats we met at the local shows - Gerry McNiell, Gump Worsley, Bill Gadsby, Frank Mahovlich, Bobby Baun, Johnny Bower, and, of course, my good friend, the late Benny Woit, Terry Sawchuk's best friend and long-time minor league and NHL roomate, before Benny was shipped off to Chicago).

Score: 3.5 out of 5 

"From Triumph To Tragedy In The NHL" may be more analogous to a research journal entry - exclusively relying on outside sources - and thus read more like a history book.  But it is by no means a boring academic work. Lombardo handles a difficult subject expertly, without eulogizing or getting too morose.