Verbeek's Thumb Was Reattached Shortly Into His NHL Career

Published on January 16th, 2024 6:27 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Unstoppable hockey spirit.  A tale of resilience. It was the start of the 1985 offseason for Pat Verbeek, and things were going great.

Verbeek, who was drafted in the third round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, was coming off of another solid season.

In just his third year, Verbeek managed to score 15 goals and 18 assists as a 20 year-old. Things were going well for Verbeek, and he seemed to have earned himself a permanent spot in the NHL.

Verbeek had grown up working on his Dad's pig farm, and the 1985 offseason was to be no different.

Unfortunately for Verbeek, the promising young talent was about to have his career flash before his eyes.


It was May 15th, 1985.

After a horrific accident involving an auger, Verbeek's Dad and brother were frantically searching for Pat Verbeek's thumb.

Pat Verbeek, stunned, watched the blood gush from the place where his thumb used to be.

You can't help but wonder if Verbeek felt as though his career was over at this moment. How could he play hockey without a thumb?

The thumb was found and Verbeek's brother raced him to the hospital.

The thumb was reattached, and Verbeek began extensive rehabilitation to get his thumb back to proper working order.


You might think that Verbeek returned to the NHL, where his career largely fizzled out.

You'd be wrong.

Verbeek scored 25 goals and 27 assists in his first season since severing his thumb.

The year after that? 35 goals.

The year after that? 46 goals.

In fact, Verbeek would score 40 goals four times AFTER severing his thumb in the horrific accident, and would become one of the few players in the NHL to score 500 goals over the course of their careers.

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