This is Bob Gassoff. To this day the name will spark memories in the city of Medicine Hat. Gassoff played in a more violent era of hockey history, and he was one of the reasons the game was so violent.
His PIMS yearly look ridiculous now, and they looked large then too. In 72-73 he led the WHL in penalty minutes with 388, and then added 152 in 17 post-season games. Both were all-time records when he set them.
He was a pretty good defenseman, good enough to be drafted 48th overall in the very strong 1973 draft. St. Louis had him play 45 games in the minors before he arrived in the NHL.
He was a good NHL player, won the Blues team MVP in 76-77 and he was listed as being a key player for St. Louis in each summer’s hockey yearbook.
To quote hockeydraftcentral: Memorial Day weekend in 1977, Gassoff and his pregnant wife, Diane, had been invited to a postseason barbecue at teammate Garry Unger’s 200-acre farm near Gray Summit, Mo.
At roughly 6 p.m., Gassoff joined several others in riding motorcycles around Unger’s property. Unger would later say he remembered wondering if it was a good idea for Gassoff to ride the motorcycle because he had been drinking and didn’t have any riding experience. Gassoff drove out of Unger’s property on a gravel road that merged into to a winding road leading up a hill to Villa Ridge, Mo.
Gassoff wasn’t wearing a helmet and had no license plate on his motorcycle, so he decided to take a short run up the hill and come right back. On his way back down the hill, he collided head-on with a car driven by a man named Douglas Klekamp.
The crash killed Gassoff, although Klekamp walked away uninjured. In October 1977, Gassoff’s widow filed a $3 million lawsuit against Unger, his wife, and Klekamp, whom the suit alleged was one of Unger’s employees running an errand for the Ungers. Unger describes Gassoff’s death as one of the most devastating moments of his life.