Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dr. Leith Douglas 1931-2011

Yesterday, Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun reported on the passing of Dr. Leith Douglas on September 15, 2011 at the age of 80. For 36 years, Dr. Douglas served as the Toronto Maple Leafs plastic surgeon. Story.

As pointed out in the Sun, Dr. Douglas was often captured on camera by those tuning in to view a Leaf game on television. Seated beside the Leaf bench, he would open and close the bench door as the club made line changes.

In his 1991 autobiography, "Sittler" (Sittler/Chris Goyens/Allan Turowetz), Darryl Sittler shed some insight on what it was like to be treated by Dr. Douglas. Then playing for the Detroit Red Wings, Sittler was in Toronto for a contest against his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The early season game was played on October 1984. After being hit from behind by the Leafs Jim Korn in the final period of play, Sittler knew instantly he had suffered a serious injury.

Describing the injury, Sittler wrote, "my upper checkbone and bone around my eye socket had been broken in three places and my eye had slipped further into the socket."

Coming off the ice, the ex-Leaf captain sought medical attention from the Toronto plastic surgeon. Recognizing the seriousness of the injury, Dr. Douglas immediately had Sittler transported to hospital. As pointed out by Sittler, it was his experience that club doctors never disclose how bad an injury is to a player, until later in the process. This allows the player time to adjust mentally to his situation and time for the injury to stabilize.

Having spent the bulk of his playing time in Toronto, there is little doubt Sittler knew he was in good hands with Dr. Douglas on the case. Full Obituary.

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