Owen "Bud" McCourt (1885 – March 7, 1907) was a Canadian ice hockey forward noteworthy as the first player in senior North American hockey play to die as a result of on-ice injuries. McCourt received several blows to the head from other players' sticks.
Death from on-ice injuriesEdit
On March 6, 1907, McCourt was playing for the Cornwall Hockey Club against the Ottawa Vics in a replay of a match on February 15 protested by Ottawa because McCourt and one other player had played for the Montreal Shamrocks of a rival league. McCourt's eligibility, protested by Ottawa, had been established before the game. Early in the second half of the match, a brawl broke out between the teams during which McCourt suffered from a head injury. He was taken from the ice unconscious, and died the following morning.
An inquest was held that same day at which the following verdict was rendered:
That Owen McCourt came to his death by a blow from a hockey stick in the hands of Charles Masson during the progress of a game of hockey played in the Victoria rink in the town of Cornwall March 6th, 1907. And, that in the opinion of this jury, although there is no evidence of ill feeling previous to the assault, there was no justification by personal provocation for the blow at the hands of the said Charles Masson. After hearing the evidence, your jury further recommends that legislation be enacted whereby players or spectators encouraging or engaging in rough or foul play may be severely punished.
In the second known trial (after the 1905 trial of Allan Loney) stemming from an in-game ice hockey incident, Masson was arraigned on a charge of manslaughter (reduced from a murder charge over the objection of the Crown prosecutor) on April 10, 1907. Several witnesses attested that McCourt had been struck by another, unknown player before Masson's blow, and Masson was subsequently acquitted.
In the aftermath of the incident, Cornwall withdrew from the league, and the Vics (one of the two remaining teams in the loop after the withdrawals of the second-place Cornwall team and the first-place Montagnards) were named champions. Ironically enough, as champions of the league, Ottawa challenged for the Stanley Cup, which was accepted by the trustees, and played a year later against the Montreal Wanderers in January, 1908.
McCourt played his entire, brief career with Cornwall of the Federal Amateur Hockey League (FAHL) -- save for a two-game stint with the Montreal Shamrocks of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association in 1907 --and blossomed into stardom in his final two seasons. He led Cornwall with five goals in the 1906 season, and went on in 1907 to score sixteen goals in eight games to lead the league, including seven against Morrisburg on February 22.
He scored a total of 26 goals in 23 senior matches.
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