Tag Archives: Hockey

Horror Movie or Hockey Player?

Who’s Behind This Mask?

Jacques Plante 1st mask 1946 1 23Though your first guess of who might be behind this frightening mask may be Hannibal LecterJason or Leatherface, it is actually hockey player Jacques Plante.

The legendary Montreal Candiens goalie was not the first to use a mask for protection, but Jacques Plante was the player to introduce the goalie mask as everyday equipment. Before Plante, the only goalie previously to wear a mask was the Montreal Maroons’ Clint Benedict who wore one briefly in 1930 to protect a broken nose.

This Associated Press photo was taken January 23, 1948 when Plante was just 19-years-old. He was playing organized hockey for the Quebec Citadelles and was still five years away from his NHL debut with the Canadiens.

This leather and fiber mask Plante wore in 1948, was used only in practices because there were so many pucks coming at him at once.

photo via sb nation habs eyes on the prize Plante hurtPlante first donned a mask in a game on November 1, 1959 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Plante was struck on the left side of his  nose and upper lip in the first period on a shot from Andy Bathgate. The game was delayed 20 minutes as Plante left the ice, received seven stitches and returned wearing a plexiglass mask (not the one seen in the photo above).

photo via sb nation habs eyes on the prize Plante bloodiedMontreal coach Toe Blake, a traditionalist, had been an ardent opponent of Plante wearing a mask. Continue reading

Hockey Without Helmets

Chicago Black Hawks Playing Hard Against The Boston Bruins – 1958

Chicago Black Hawks play Boston Bruins 1958The date is February 23, 1958 and the Boston Bruins are on the road against the Chicago Black Hawks. (After the 1985 – 86 season the Black Hawks shortened their name to one word.)

The Black Hawks Glen Skov (14) is sprawled out on the ice and continues to play the puck as Bruins winger Larry Regan sees an opportunity ahead if he does not lose his balance. Lorne Ferguson of the Black Hawks is in pursuit of Regan.

The Bruins would win this game 2-0.

A couple of things to note to the modern hockey fan besides the fact that the players did not wear helmets: Continue reading

Hockey Legend Jean Beliveau Dies At 83

Jean Beliveau – The Epitome Of Grace And Power

Jean Beliveau puts his arms around teammates Ken Dryden and Frank Mahovlich following their victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals on May 16, 1971, at the Montreal Forum. photo: B Bennett / Toronto Star

Jean Beliveau, who won 10 Stanley Cup championships playing for the Montreal Canadiens from 1951-1971 died Tuesday, December 2, 2014 in Longueuil, Quebec at the age of 83.

Beliveau was among the smoothest and fastest skaters I have ever seen. His hockey skills were extraordinary in every way. He dominated the game like only a handful of players have ever done. He had a wrist shot that was keenly accurate and was among the best play-makers to ever lace up a pair of skates in the NHL.

Jean Beliveau (No. 4) scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 15 , 1959. Goalie is Johnny Bower. Canadiens won the game 4-2 - photo: UPI

Jean Beliveau (No. 4) scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 15 , 1959. Goalie is Johnny Bower. Canadiens won the game 4-2 – photo: UPI

Beliveau amassed 507 goals and 712 assists in 1125 games. In 162 career playoff games he tallied 176 points. A two-time Hart Trophy (league MVP) winner, he was the captain of the Montreal  Canadiens for the final ten seasons of his career.

Besides his greatness as a player, what people will remember about Jean Beliveau was that he was a modest gentleman, both on and off the ice.

Teammates, opposing players, coaches and fans respected and admired Jean Beliveau. He carried himself with class, the way few athletes do nowadays.

Adieu, Jean Believeau.

Gerry Cheevers, Boston Bruins Goaltender And First To Decorate A Goalie Mask

Who Was That Masked Man?

Gerry Cheevers photo © Pete Mocca

Gerry Cheevers photo © Pete Mocca

He had the most recognizable mask in the history of the NHL.

And, from what I have been able to research, Gerry Cheevers was the first goalie to decorate his goalie mask.

Gerry Cheevers was with the Boston Bruins from 1965-66 through 1971-72, jumped to the World Hockey Association (WHA) to play for the Cleveland Crusaders for four seasons, and then returned to the Bruins in 1975-76 and retired after the 1979-80 season.

Supposedly Cheevers was not enamored of the all white fiberglass mask, and one day a seemingly unremarkable incident triggered an alteration to the mask.

The distinctive stitch pattern that was to become Cheevers trademark began in the late 1960’s when Cheevers was hit in the mask with a puck during a practice. Even though he was not hurt Cheevers wanted to get off the ice to take a breather. In the locker room, Bruins trainer John “Frosty” Forristall drew a big stitch mark on the mask to show where Cheevers would have received stitches had he not been wearing a mask to demonstrate to the coach the “seriousness” of the blow Cheevers had taken.

The rest of the Bruins thought it was hilarious and Cheevers kept the stitch mark. Cheevers liked the decoration so much he began adding more stitches to the mask season after season every time he took a puck to the face. Cheevers made one other innovation to the mask that was adapted by most goalies in the 1960’s and 70’s, and that was to widen the eye slots so he could see the puck better.

Amazingly, Cheevers says he primarily used that one marked up mask for his entire career. The mask now is on display at the home of his grandson.

After his playing career was over, Cheevers coached the Bruins for four and a half seasons before he was fired in 1985.

Cheevers didn’t just have a great mask, he had a great career posting 230 wins with just 102 losses and a 2.89 goals against average. Cheevers was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985. In what might be Cheevers greatest achievement, he went undefeated in 33 consecutive games in 1972, setting a record that still stands today.

Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion Gets Angry – 1967

How To Get A Three Game Suspension

Bernie Geoffrion cross-checking linesman Walter Atanas February 8 , 1967

Bernie Geoffrion cross-checking linesman Walter Atanas February 8 , 1967

Bernie Geoffrion was one of the all-time hockey greats. In 1960-61 he became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, following his teammate Maurice “Rocket” Richard who had accomplished the feat in 1944-45. Geoffrion, who was one tough player, broke his nose six times and received over 400 stitches playing hockey. The “Boom Boom” nickname however came from his hard slap shot not from pounding other players. After playing his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens from 1950-1964, Geoffrion retired. But two years later Geoffrion came out of retirement to play with the New York Rangers during the 1966-67 season.

On February 8, 1967 Geoffrion lost his cool during a game at the Boston Garden. In the closing seconds of a game that the Bruins would end up winning 2-1, angry Ranger fans littered the ice with debris over a perceived missed penalty call.

After a ten minute delay to clear the ice play resumed with two seconds remaining on the clock. There were three false starts that linesman Walter Atanas claimed were caused by Geoffrion going offside. Atanas and Geoffrion started yelling at one another and Geoffrion then allegedly slapped an empty beer can in Atanas’ direction.

Atanas skated over to referee John Ashley to have Geoffrion assessed a ten minute misconduct penalty. Geoffrion followed Atanas across the ice, cross-checking him twice. Geoffrion later claimed he never cross-checked Atanas, but had merely tripped on an empty beer can. The photographic evidence proved otherwise.

One week later, NHL President Clarence Campbell suspended Geoffrion for three games. Campbell said, “I consider his actions in cross-checking official Walter Atanas to be completely inexcusable and a product of his own temperament, which has gotten him into similar trouble on at least two other occasions.”  Geoffrion was also fined $25 and $50 for the misconduct and game misconduct penalties.

The previous two times that Geoffrion was suspended was when he was with the Montreal Canadiens. Both incidents also involved altercations with officials.

Geoffrion finished the season with 17 goals and 25 assists in 58 games. After the 1967-68 season Geoffrion retired for good. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Bobby Orr’s First Time At The Boston Garden 1966

Bobby Orr’s Debut At The Boston Garden October 10, 1966

This photograph shows Bobby Orr wearing number 27, (left) at his first practice at the Boston Garden on Monday, October 10, 1966. Next to Orr is the youngest coach in the NHL, 34-year-old Harry Sinden and defenseman Gilles Marotte.

The Bruins had practiced for a month at their training facility in London, Ontario and came to Boston on October 9, 1966 to prepare for the coming season with some exhibition games. Since the 1959-60 season the Bruins had posted seven consecutive losing seasons. The Bruins anticipated savior, 18-year-old rookie phenom Bobby Orr, would eventually set the team on a course that would lead them to two Stanley Cup championships. But not in  Orr’s first season with the Bruins- they would continue their losing record at 17-43-10 and not qualify for the playoffs for the eighth year in a row.

Orr’s teammate, Gilles Marotte was involved in one of the biggest swaps in NHL history when he was traded on May 15, 1967 with Pit Martin and Jack Norris from the Bruins to the Chicago Blackhawks for Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield. Esposito being the key player in the trade, would help establish with Orr, the nucleus of the Bruins winning teams of the late 1960’s and early 70’s and lead the Bruins to success.

Orr immediately altered the way the game was played in his rookie season by using his tremendous skills as a defenseman to lead offensive drives, something that was simply unheard of up until Orr’s arrival in the NHL.

Orr was nursing a sore shoulder at the time this photo was taken and did not play in the Bruins exhibition game against the New York Rangers on October 11 at the Boston Garden which the Rangers won 3-1.

Orr would make his NHL debut on October 19, 1966 against the Detroit Red Wings and get an assist in a 6-2 Bruins victory.

Starting On Defense For The Chicago Blackhawks…#4 Bobby Orr

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

(Bobby Orr – October 9, 1976 –  Blackhawks vs. Islanders)

Contrary to any record book, hockey encyclopedia, photographic evidence, existing video or first hand account, Bobby Orr never, ever  played for any other team but the Boston Bruins. This was just a bad dream.

ESPN “Improves” Baseball With Incredible Technology

A Strike Box, Called K-Zone, So Viewers Can Have their Main Focal Point Completely Obscured

I watched ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball for the first time this season for a few minutes. The Yankees were battling the Reds in interleague play.

For those baseball fans who don’t know where the strike zone is or question the umpire’s judgment, the brilliant minds at ESPN have put a rectangle superimposed over the home plate area to point out what was a ball or a strike. It was on the viewing screen for every pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning.

I quickly turned off the game before it ended and put on the radio. It was unwatchable.

I was reminded of FOX’s failed “improvement” to professional hockey called “FoxTrax” which lasted for a couple of years in the mid 1990’s for NHL national broadcasts. If you liked following a glowing blue glob (the puck)  and having televised hockey look like a video game, then this was the technology for you.

If you need this visual aid for the strike zone, I suggest you take some masking tape and outline a box on your television screen.

Good move ESPN.