Bill Juzda

Bill Juzda, a hard hitting, stay at home defenseman in the 1940s, had two nicknames.

He was best known as "The Beast" because of his physical exuberance he preferred while delivering defensive excellence, shutting down even the most explosive of the NHL's offensive stars.

But if there was one star he was best known for battling it was Montreal's Rocket Richard. Their continuing war earned Juzda the unofficial moniker of Richard's Anglo Nemesis.

In fact, the 5'9" and 180lb defenseman who was known for his bone-rattling bodychecks is best remembered for the night he hit Rocket Richard so hard that the Plexiglas broke. Plexiglas was still new back then, and no one thought it could be broken. 

Juzda was an old school defenseman if there ever was one. He cared not about offense. He only scored 14 goals and 68 points in 398 games. But he took immense pride in his defensive play. The bruising bodychecker played the game rough and tough, but his penalty minute totals were very reasonable - just 398 minutes in as many games.

Juzda started his pro career with the New York Rangers in 1940-41. His career was interrupted for a couple of years when he served as a pilot in the Second World War. He was traded to the Leafs in 1948, and was an all-star in 1948 and '49. He won Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1949 and 1951 before leaving the NHl in 1952.

In 1953 he returned to Winnipeg to play for the Winnipeg Maroons for ten seasons making two Allan Cup final appearances. He also worked as an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railroad for many years. He also coached amateur hockey at all levels, from midget to senior. He continued to play oldtimers hockey himself until he was in his 70s.

Juzda died of cancer on February 17th, 2008. He was 87 years old.


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