Don Raleigh, the first player to score back-to-back overtime goals in the Stanley Cup Final and one of the youngest players ever to dress for an NHL game, died Tuesday in Kingston, Ontario. He was 86.
Raleigh's son, Jack Raleigh, confirmed to the Winnipeg Free Press that his father had been in failing health for a couple of years and had recently suffered a fall. "We made the decision to withdraw life support. It was very peaceful," he said.
Nicknamed "Bones" because his playing weight was about 150 pounds, Raleigh broke into the NHL with the war-ravaged New York Rangers in 1943-44 as a 17-year-old. He had two goals and two assists in 17 games.
Raleigh returned to the NHL four years later and scored 15 goals and 32 points to help the Rangers make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years. Four of the goals came in one game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 25, 1948 -- making him the first Rangers player to score four times in the same game.
Two years later, Raleigh scored the overtime winner in Games 4 and 5 of the Final against the Detroit Red Wings, giving the underdog Rangers a 3-2 lead in the series. The Red Wings won Game 6 and beat the Rangers in double overtime in Game 7 to win the Cup -- but not before Raleigh hit the crossbar, barely missing what would have been his third OT winner.
"I had a couple of chances, especially in the second overtime," he recounted in 2006. "To have the Stanley Cup that close and not get it was terrible."
His career with the Rangers ended in 1955-56, and he retired from hockey two years later. Raleigh scored 101 goals and added 219 assists for 320 points in 535 NHL games, all with the Rangers.
Raleigh, who lived most of his life in Winnipeg, is a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.