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World Cup

Famed Montreal doctor helping Team North America

David Mulder, who has been with Canadiens since 1960s, helping with World Cup

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

MONTREAL -- The tall, distinguished gentleman in dress slacks and a shirt unbuttoned at his neck was standing behind Team North America's bench at Bell Centre on Monday, the first day of training camp for the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Dr. David Mulder has been a fixture in Montreal hockey arenas since 1963, first at Montreal Forum, and then, since it opened in 1996, Bell Centre.

Mulder arrived in hockey in the early 1960s as one of three McGill University surgical residents recruited by then-Montreal Canadiens doctor Douglas Kinnear and paid $10 per game to care for Montreal's junior team.

On Monday, more than a half-century later, Mulder was behind a bench once more as support to Edmonton Oilers physician Dhiren Naidu, who is in charge of Team North America's medical care.

"The Canadiens are just helping out this team's physicians with the medical room and the ambulance and hospital coverage, sort of backing them up," said Mulder, who was standing in front of a Bell Centre display of 24 Stanley Cups, representing those won through the decades by the Canadiens.

He was happy to point to the 1968-69 Cup, the first of nine championships of which he's been a part as head of the Canadiens' medical unit.

"I'll come down to the arena this week intermittently," he said. "Today was just to show them the basics, and we'll be back to cover the pretournament game on Sunday [against Team Europe (6 p.m. ET; ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports)]."

Mulder is an institution in Montreal and a legend worldwide for his pioneering work in medicine, having served as Montreal General Hospital's surgeon-in-chief, chairman of the department of surgery and director of the division of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at McGill.

He has been on the cutting edge of his field since arriving in Montreal from his native Saskatchewan in 1963, instrumental in care, education and research at Montreal General and the lead in the restructuring of trauma care in Quebec.

Mulder's trauma-care work extends internationally. In 2006 he was honored with the David S. Mulder Chair in Trauma Care at Montreal General, and in October 2016 the hospital's entire trauma center took his name, shortly before the Canadiens celebrated his career with an on-ice pregame ceremony at Bell Centre.

He has been on the front lines of terrifying and heartbreaking on- and off-ice injuries and illnesses involving Canadiens players during his many years. He has done dramatic, even life-saving work with a number of players, among them Brian Savage, Trent McCleary, Richard Zednik, Donald Audette and Max Pacioretty, and with cancer-stricken captains Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Saku Koivu.

Hundreds of players, and their families, have been touched by Mulder's work, as have countless thousands of patients from every walk of life.

On Monday, passing through the arena that's his second home, Mulder had a few words with Team North America's medical staff, watched a bit of practice, then headed home to work on an educational talk he'll give at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, next month on life-threatening hockey injuries.

The timing of the talk is perhaps not a coincidence.

"I can give it," he said with a smile, "and not miss a single Canadiens game."

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