A Life in Medicine

In Memoriam: John Finley, DO, revered Detroit Red Wings physician

Dr. Finley was the Detroit Red Wings team physician for over 40 years and was highly respected by the athletes he served and their coaches.


John Finley, DO, 88, passed on April 27, 2017. Dr. Finley, who served as team physician for the Detroit Red Wings for more than 40 years, had a legendary reputation in the NHL, especially for his supreme suturing skills, according to an article published in the Detroit Free Press.

Before the days of hockey masks and protective padding, Dr. Finley was responsible for setting broken bones, relieving players’ pain and stitching up their wounds, taking special care to avoid permanent nerve damage.

When Dr. Finley retired in 2003, he wrote Hockeytown Doc: A Half-Century of Red Wings Stories from Howe to Yzerman.

The DO last spoke with Dr. Finley at OMED 2012 where he was autographing copies of Hockeytown Doc.

“Our goal was to have the patients appreciate what we were doing for them and come to us immediately when they had a problem,” said Dr. Finley.

And appreciate him, they did. In the foreword to Dr. Finley’s book, prominent Detroit Red Wings player, Gordie ‘Mr. Hockey’ Howe, wrote that his physician was a hero.

“He was our psychologist and confidante, helping us navigate the demands of being fathers, husbands and sports figures,” said Howe.

Dr. Finley graduated from what is now Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM) in Downers Grove, Illinois, in 1953, and completed his residency at the former Detroit Osteopathic Hospital.

Dr. Finley was active in the osteopathic medical profession; he had served on MWU/CCOM’s Board of Trustees. He also served as the president of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons and was on their Board of Governors.

Dr. Finley is survived by his wife, Genevieve; his son, Michael Finley, DO (Michelle Miller), and his daughters Mary (Gary) Straffon, Maureen (Paul) Kaplan, Bridgit (Brian) Hermann, Molly Finley (Paul Riccio), and Colleen Finley; and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be held at Lynch and Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks Road, Clawson, Michigan, on Sunday, April 30, from 3-8 p.m. A Scripture Service will be held on Sunday evening. The funeral Mass will be held at St. Hugo of the Hills Stone Chapel, 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on Monday, May 1, at 11 a.m. Friends may visit at the Chapel beginning at 10:30 a.m.


  1. Stan Stanczak

    I served on the Committee on Hospital Accreditation when Jack was Chairman. He was truly a leader and a gentleman. I think of him often and mourn his passing.

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