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Breaking a leg

Lessons from Everyday Life By Theodore Lewis

Portland, Maine—Recently, after reconnecting with the good folks at Dockerty Health Care in Michigan, I decided to give them "a leg up" (pun intended) in their recruitment efforts. They need more nurses and caregivers at their eight assisted living communities and I have experience in recruiting in the health care field.

Dockerty Health Care started in 1997 with an assisted living community in Bridgman, Michigan near Lake Michigan and the world-famous Warren Dunes. Don and Mary Dockerty were the founders of Woodland Terrace in Bridgman and, through the years with the help of family members, the assisted living/senior living service grew to eight locations in Pure Michigan from Berrien County to Battle Creek to Traverse City.

They are now recruiting caregivers from Guam and Puerto Rico. Because of my experience in Guam, a trip was planned for Tim Dockerty, CEO, Mary Dockerty, head nurse, and myself, to depart Chicago on April 12 and spend a week on Guam where we scheduled a job fair at the Guam Hilton Resort and Spa.

My wife and I departed Maine for Michigan on April 6 (to spend some time with our friends in Niles before the recruiting trip) and drove as far as Albany, New York on the first night. The next day, April 7, it was raining as we entered a service Plaza on the New York tollway. As I stepped through the entrance door, my feet slipped on the wet tile— kerplunk!

Next thing I knew I was down on the floor stunned. It took me a few moments to realize what had happened. My phone and keys flew out of my pockets and people rushed to my side. I went to get up. I struggled as my right foot hurt.

After communicating with the management of the service area, I fueled up the car and we headed back out on I-90 West.

When driving, my right foot and leg were positioned at an angle that mitigated the pain.


After arriving at our friend's home in Niles, Justin took me to the emergency room at Lakeland Spectrum Hospital. The hospital, where I was born, was originally called Pawating.

The service and care I received were exceptionally competent, efficient and compassionate. Unfortunately, the news from the x-ray wasn't good. I had a fracture in my lower right fibula leg bone.

So I had to cancel my flight. Tim and Mary went to Guam without me. I was so disappointed as I was really looking forward to visiting with old friends again on Guam.

As I was preparing for surgery with my leg in a boot propped up on a stool, my mind wandered back to April 1964. My father and I witnessed what was arguably the most famous broken leg incident in hockey and sports history.

The Detroit Red Wings were in the Stanley Cup Finals. On April 21, the Red Wings won the fifth of the seven-game series to take three games to two leads. One more victory and the Stanley Cup would belong to the Detroit boys.

Game 6 was scheduled at Detroit's iconic red brick Olympia Stadium on Grand River Avenue and game 7 was scheduled in Toronto.

In the morning of April 22, the Detroit Free Press, home-delivered to our yellow delivery box on Academy Road in Holly, was full of stories about the previous night's victory and the possible Stanley Cup championship that could belong to Detroit with a next game Red Wings.

An article in the sports section stated that a limited number of standing-room-only tickets would go on sale that day for game 6.


Right after breakfast we got in the Ford Falcon and headed out to I-75, then the Lodge Freeway, and finally the trek down Grand River Avenue toward the protruding heavenly brick box on the horizon of the avenue. After parking, we joined the line that already stretched partway around the building. An hour and a half later, we finally made it to the ticket booth. My dad got two of the last standing-room-only tickets ($3 each) for the third-level balcony, way up in the rafters. We would be there to witness history where our team would bring home The Stanley Cup.

From the opening, face-off electricity filled the air. The Stanley Cup and cases of champagne awaited in the Detroit locker room.

About halfway through the second period, Detroit's Gordie Howe let loose with a wicked slap shot that was stopped by Toronto defenseman Bob Baun's leg. Baun fell on the ice. He was in so much pain they carried him off the ice on a stretcher.

When Gordie Howe scored later in the second period, giving the Red Wings a 3-2 lead in the game, the crowd went wild. It felt like the building was shaking, and a fan in the four-row-deep standing room next to my dad spilled his beer all over us. When it looked like we were going to win the Stanley Cup, the stench of spilled beer was a minor inconvenience.

Only a minute or so before the second period ended, however, Toronto scored a goal to tie the game up going into the third period.

During the entire third period, no one scored, so the game was tied at the end of regulation. The first team to score in overtime would be the winner.


As the players lined up for the overtime faceoff, No. 21 Bob Baun was back on the ice (with the help of pain killers). Less than two minutes into the period, No. 21 took a shot that deflected off Bill Gadsby's stick and went into the Detroit net. Just like that, the game was over and our hopes dashed.

The Maple Leafs went on to win game 7 in Toronto and only later was it revealed that Baun had scored the winning goal in game 6 on a broken leg.

There's an old English Shakespearian theatre tradition that used the phrase "break a leg" to wish others good luck.

Unfortunately, Bob Baun and I had our share of bad luck when we broke our legs—literally.

Theodore Lewis is the former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a health care consulting business based out of Portland, Maine. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at

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May 21, 2022

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