MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is not a more beloved or colorful character in the game of ice hockey.
Since 1958, Dr. George Nagobads has stitched up and healed players from Golden Gophers to Olympic gold medalists.
Nagobads was team doctor for the Minnesota Gophers, U.S. National and Olympic teams as well as the Minnesota North Stars and St. Paul Fighting Saints.
“Lou Nanne alone got over 40 stitches one time back during the ’68 Olympics,” Nagobads said.
In 1980, Nagobads was chosen as team doctor for team USA. In fact, he’s even portrayed in the 2003 Hollywood film “Miracle,” where he is seen pleading with coach Herb Brooks to stop a punishing skating drill.
But it was what happened on a quiet Sunday afternoon that put the 93-year-old Nagobads on the receiving end of stitches.
“I was there to bring new flowers for my wife’s grave,” Nagobads said.
He was sitting on a folding chair next to his wife Velta’s grave when he felt a tap on his shoulder. That’s when he stood up and realized a young man was talking in a strange way and holding a large windshield ice scraper.
Moments later, the man began swinging at Nagobads who used the metal chair as a shield.
“By that time he ripped the chair away from me and that was the time I said, ‘One more time and I’m gone,'” Nagobads said.
Nagobads took some blows to the head, opening up two large wounds. Fortunately, he was able to escape after wisely tossing his wallet far away on the ground.
When the attacker went for the wallet, Nagobads fled to his nearby car.
“I said, ‘This is my chance,’ so I took off on foot as fast as I could to my car, and I made it,” Nagobads said.
He locked the doors and drove to the nearby North Memorial, where doctors gave him 18 stitches to close the wounds.
He’s home again, thankful it wasn’t worse and hopeful police catch his attacker before anyone else is hurt.