Garry Monahan will always have a place in NHL history.
He was the league’s first selection in its first ever draft back in 1963, taken by the Montreal Canadiens as a teenager. Four years later, he made one of the shortest debuts in league history, knocked unconscious by a flying puck he’d sent to center ice just a couple of seconds earlier. You know it’s not a tall tale because evidence of what happened is plainly seen on Garry Monahan’s 1967-68 Topps rookie card.
Monahan was with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League prior to making the Canadiens roster in the fall of ’67. In October of that year, he got his first taste of the NHL– but it didn’t last long.
Coach Toe Blake sent him in to replace Jean Beliveau in a game against the Boston Bruins. Just 12 seconds later, he was lying on the ice.
In a very entertaining story on NHL.com, he said he wound up with a nasty red welt under his eye but Topps wanted him for its 1967-68 card set. A photographer showed up at the Forum carrying a hodge-podge of other players’ equipment including Yvan Cournoyer’s jersey and snapped Monahan’s first hockey card photo. Enlarge any image of the card, like these, and you can plainly see the big red mark. No attempt was made to disguise it. Maybe Topps figured it was sort of a badge of honor that made him look more like a hockey player. They also got his first name wrong (“Gary” instead of “Garry”).
Monahan, who now lives in Vancouver, wound up playing 748 games over 12 seasons.