With the 558th pick in the 9th ATD the Minnesota Fighting Saints are proud to select
RW "Wild" Bill Ezinicki
They called him “Wild Bill” Ezinicki because, while he weighed only 170 pounds, he was one of the most punishing bodycheckers in the game, something that New York Ranger forward Edgar Laprade could have attested to, having been knocked unconscious by one of Ezinicki's thundering hits. In an era when few players freelanced, Ezinicki would fly around the rink in wide arcs. When he located a target, he'd swoop in like a heat-seeking missile and crush his opponent, who often didn't see him coming.
Ezinicki was more than just a heavy hitter, he was a winner. He was a key figure on the Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals in 1943-44. After two seasons of partial duty with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he became the team’s first-line right winger on their three consecutive Stanley Cup winners in 1946-47, 1947-48 and 1948-49.
Tough as nails he played a similar game to Detroit legend Ted Lindsay but didn't possess the same offensive abilities. He was in the top 5 in the league in penalty minutes for 5 straight seasons from 1946-47 through 1950-51 which included league leading totals in consecutive seasons. Like Lindsay, he was a very capable fighter for a smaller player and was able to draw some of the leagues better players into a scrap and get them off the ice for 5 minutes. His fight card includes names like Leo Reise, Emile Bouchard, Maurice Richard, Fern Flaman, and the famous bout with Ted Lindsay which Detroit writer Paul Chandler claims resulted in the first ever intent to injure match penalties in NHL history.
Bill Ezinicki is part of an interesting bit of Stanley Cup trivia. His name was originally engraved onto the 1949 Stanley Cup but was later accidentally removed when several names of team doctors, publicity director, and assistant trainer were taken off. One account claims that he was accidentally mistaken for the team mascot, Kerry Day, and removed instead.
Ezinicki is also one of the best pests in NHL history. While revered in Toronto, he was reviled by the rest of the league. He was accused by the Red Wings of deliberately injuring goalie Harry Lumley. Rangers coach Frank Boucher tried to get him suspended after his hit on Edgar Laprade. Herb Ralby of the Boston Globe called him "the leading candidate for the most hated opponent". Even the fans despised him, as evidenced by an incident in New York where a woman in the front row stuck a long hatpin into his backside when he bent over to take a faceoff.
While "Wild" Bill was an avid weight-lifter, he would further reinforce himself and his equipment with yards of tape. He would use such an excessive amount that reports say that it would bulge grotesquely on his stick and body. Ezinicki also had an insurance policy that paid him five dollars for every suture needed to close a cut. With his aggressive style of play, he did well collecting on the policy. He has always been an avid golfer and became a professional in the Boston area after retiring from hockey. He won all five state golf championships in New England.