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Hockey Goalies – A Breed Aside – The Hockey Writers – NHL Goaltending

The good Jacques Plante summed it up this manner, “Think about sitting at your desk. You make a mistake. A pink mild goes on behind you, a siren begins sounding and 18,000 individuals are yelling at you. That’s what it’s wish to be a goaltender.”

Jacques Plante poses for a photograph with Vladislav Tretiak of the Soviet Union previous to the beginning of the Summit Collection circa the 1972 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photograph by Denis Brodeur/NHLI through Getty Photographs)

Hockey goalies are a distinct breed, particularly those that performed earlier than 1959, when there have been no masks and so they wore minimal physique safety. They had been a bit psychological to place themselves in entrance of a web and cease pucks that might’ve killed them. With as we speak’s advances within the design and manufacturing of apparatus, the concern of getting damage has all however vanished.

Nonetheless, there’s a perception that goalies are particular breed. They’re typically regarded as on the skin of society’s cusp of normalcy, barely holding issues collectively whereas able to utterly snap at any second. They’re bizarre creatures of behavior with wacky superstitions and weird game-day routines.

The Lure of Goaltending

For some, the excessive of denying different folks the chance to attain objectives far outweighs the lure of scoring.

Psychological Toughness

Whereas most of a goalie’s preparation is bodily, come sport time, it’s all psychological.

It takes an uncommon quantity of psychological fortitude to face in entrance of dashing pucks and deal with the truth that they’re the final line of protection. If a ahead or defenseman has a nasty night time, his teammates can seemingly cowl for him–his errors could not result in objectives or trigger his group to lose the sport. But when a goalie has a nasty night time, his errors typically imply the sport is misplaced. That’s a whole lot of strain and guilt to hold when issues go mistaken.

For the Gear Obsessed

Goaltenders prize their intensive gear. A model new set of pads or a freshly painted masks will produce the joy of a 12-year-old on Christmas morning. Goalies covet their gear like Gollum covets The Ring.

Others who deal with or transfer their gear on sport day is more likely to produce a Hannibal Lecter-like response.

College students of the Recreation

Standing within the crease, goalies have a view of the sport like no different participant on the group. They will see each element unfold in entrance of them. As college students of the sport, they’ll establish opposing gamers merely from the form of the stick blade. They get to know which gamers are more likely to shoot and which can make the additional cross.

They choose up on all the things – even when a slumping opposition participant has modified the way in which he tapes his stick. Goalies know which rinks have full of life boards and acknowledge how which will issue into the sport. They take all this data and put together themselves bodily in follow in order that come sport time their reactions will likely be computerized and easy.

The Craziest of Loopy Goalies

It’s more bizarre to discover a goalie who isn’t bizarre than it’s to search out one who’s. There have been many memorable goalies within the NHL with weird personalities, pre-game rituals and superstitions. The next stand out because the wackiest:

Jacques Plante

Jacques Plante, certainly one of solely 38 Hockey Corridor of Fame goalies, was as quirky as they arrive. On highway journeys to Toronto, he flat out refused to remain on the group’s resort (The Royal York) as a result of he was satisfied {that a} cleanser they used introduced on bronchial asthma assaults.

In a sport towards the New York Rangers at Madison Sq. Backyard on November 1, 1959, Plante was lower badly by a nose-smashing shot to the face by Rangers ahead Andy Bathgate, their hardest taking pictures ahead. Plante crumbled to the ice in a pool of blood.

Jacques Plante
Jacques Plante modified the face of goaltending. Actually. (THW Archives)

“It opened up a lower from the nook of his mouth all the way in which up via his nostril,” mentioned Pink Fisher, legendary hockey author. “Attempt to think about that — the ache that he was going via.”

Fisher rushed to the dressing room to search out Plante wanting within the mirror.

“Fairly ugly,” mentioned Plante.

“Yeah, nicely you had a great begin, Jacques,” mentioned Fisher as Plante laid down on the desk for stitches.

Unbelievably, Plante returned to the sport carrying a masks. The gang wildly applauded and the Canadiens received the sport 3-1.

Plante determined to put on a face masks from that time on and is credited with introducing it to fashionable goaltending. Montreal head coach, Toe Blake, initially turned down Plante’s request to put on the masks throughout video games for concern it might impair his imaginative and prescient and make him puck shy.

After 11 seasons in Montreal, he was traded to the New York Rangers. There, he beloved to walk across the metropolis, visiting its school campuses the place he’d say he was ‘absorbing information.’

Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy, one of many high 10 goaltenders ever to play the sport, can also be on the highest listing of eccentrics.

He was identified to decorate precisely the identical method for each sport, step over each line on the ice and have full-on conversations along with his goalposts.

Whereas play-by-play broadcasters typically referred to goalposts as a goaltender’s greatest mates, Roy brazenly believed it. He was adamant that he would play higher with the goalposts on his aspect.

For Roy, the discussions with the inanimate objects first began throughout the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Montreal Canadiens and the Hartford Whalers.

“I began speaking to the goalposts accidentally.” Roy mentioned. “We had been taking part in in Hartford, and I began speaking to the goalposts throughout the anthem. They helped me, and I performed a great sport. In extra time, a man took a slap shot and hit the publish and we received.”

Whereas most goalies sweep ice snow from the crease into the online, Roy by no means did. He believed it was mistaken to comb something into his web, so he at all times swept it to the aspect.

With 4 Stanley Cups and three Vezina Trophies, it’s laborious to argue along with his superstitions.

The 2006 Hockey Corridor of Fame inductee’s fiery persona and disdain for shedding continued as a coach. In 2007, as coach and proprietor of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, Roy allegedly punched one of many house owners of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens after Chicoutimi followers had refused to permit the Remparts again on their bus after the sport. The next 12 months, a bench-clearing brawl befell between the 2 groups. Patrick’s son, Jonathan, additionally a goaltender, acquired right into a struggle with the Chicoutimi goaltender. The melee earned Jonathon a seven-game suspension and Patrick a five-game suspension. Regardless of being caught on video making a gesture to his son, Patrick is on file claiming he didn’t provoke or orchestrate the donnybrook.

Then, in his first sport teaching within the NHL, Roy engaged in a screaming match with Bruce Boudreau and almost knocked over the glass pane separating his Colorado Avalanche’s bench from the Anaheim Geese’ bench.

Ilya Bryzgalov 

Ilya Bryzgalov was considered a typical goaltender for many of his nine-year NHL profession. However, when he made his solution to Philadelphia in 2011-12, that every one modified. HBO’s 24/7 sequence main as much as the Winter Basic confirmed everybody a distinct ‘Bryz.’

The Russian turned a quote machine and his quips had been typically headscratchers. He’d ramble on the universe being a “humangous beeg” or opine on the great thing about his Siberian Husky as “a sizzling woman, man.” Ultimately, the Flyers determined they’d had sufficient loopy and ultimately purchased out the remaining seven years of Bryzgalov’s contract.

Gilles Gratton

Although he solely performed 47 profession NHL video games for the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues within the Seventies, Gratton’s weirdness reset the bounds of what it meant to be loopy. His elevator didn’t go anyplace close to the highest ground.

First, there was his masks, painted just like the face of an animal (and having nothing to do with both group’s logos). One story has it that whereas with the Rangers there was a faceoff in Gratton’s finish of the ice. Earlier than the puck was dropped, Gratton began roaring like a lion (whereas carrying a lion masks). The Ranger gamers began laughing, misplaced the faceoff and the opposite group instantly scored.

Gratton’s nickname was ‘The Rely’ as a result of he believed, “in my final life I used to be a Spanish Rely and one of many issues I beloved to do once I was a rely in Spain was take all of the commoners, line them up towards a wall and throw rocks at them.” He additionally although his present life as an NHL goalie was punishment for his earlier transgressions. He additionally defined away belly pains attributable to being run via with a lance throughout the Spanish Inquisition as a soldier in a previous life.

There’s extra. ‘Grattoony the Loony’ as soon as refused to play in a sport as a result of the moon was within the mistaken place within the sky. Additionally, based on John Davidson, now president of hockey operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets and a former teammate of his, Gratton would stroll right into a room containing a piano and play classical music regardless of his declare that he’d by no means taken a lesson in his life.

Gratton typically would hang around bare after practices and even threatened to carry out an entire strip present within the final sport of the 1976-77 season. Regardless of being egged on by his teammates, sanity kicked in for a quick second and he didn’t comply with via.

“In biblical occasions, I stoned folks to dying. Now they’re repaying me by hurling pucks at my head.” –Gilles Gratton

Whether or not Gratton forgot to pay his mind invoice or he was just a few screws in need of a ironmongery shop, there’s little doubt that someplace a circus is lacking its clown. He retired on the age of 24.

Ron Hextall

Ron Hextall was a hothead on the ice and his quick fuse typically acquired one of the best of him. If an opposing participant acquired in his face or went after a teammate, he would take be aware after which take revenge on that participant. He’d leap gamers, would be a part of or create a scrum, and would drop the mitts and going at it with any participant within the league. The proof is within the penalty column, the place Hextall holds the file for many penalty minutes (584) by a goalie in league historical past. The closest goalie is known hothead Billy Smith of the New York Islanders at 489 minutes, although he performed 72 extra video games than Hextall.

Within the historical past of the NHL, a goalie has eclipsed 100 penalty minutes solely thrice. Hextall did so in 1986-87 (104 minutes), 1987-88 (104 minutes), and 1988-89 (113 minutes). The subsequent highest is a distant Tom Barrasso who racked up 70 minutes in 1988-89 with the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hextall can also be identified to have popularized the superstition of “waking up” his posts and the crossbar by whacking it along with his stick earlier than a sport to assist them make saves.

Ron Hextall Pittsburgh Penguins
Ron Hextall, Common Supervisor of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photograph by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI through Getty Photographs)

Hextall’s pre-game warm-up ritual was that of a person possessed, with a sequence of stick faucets and rhythmic actions adopted by skating off as quick as humanly attainable. In the course of the sport, he additionally added the repetition of checking the straps on his proper leg then these on his left leg.

Although Hextall is in administration, he nonetheless loses his mood.

Roman Cechmanek

Roman Cechmanek deliberately used his head to make saves. The important thing phrase there’s intentional. Philadelphia Flyer followers ultimately referred to as them “cranium saves.”

Cechmanek’s unorthodox model was extraordinarily efficient till the 2001-02 playoffs towards the Ottawa Senators. Down two video games to at least one within the sequence, and 3-0 in sport 4, Cechmanek inexplicably skated out to middle ice and commenced to eviscerate his teammates for his or her poor play. Not surprisingly, at follow the subsequent day, a few of Cechmanek’s teammates fired pucks at his head to point out their displeasure. He performed another 12 months for the Flyers then was traded to Los Angeles Kings.

Glenn Corridor

Glenn Corridor was chosen by the St. Louis Blues throughout the 1967 growth draft. Due to Halls’ unbelievable heroics, the Blues made the Stanley Cup Finals in every of their first three years. He was the goalie Bobby Orr scored on in his Stanley Cup clinching extra time objective by which he flew via the air.

One of many biggest goalies of all time, Corridor was a three-time Vezina Trophy winner, two-time Conn Smyth winner and two-time Stanley Cup winner. Generally known as Mr. Goalie, he was voted First-Staff All Star seven occasions and Second-Staff All Star 4 occasions. Plus, he’s famend as the primary goalie to excellent the now widespread butterfly model–a way that actually revolutionized the place.

The legendary Hockey Corridor of Famer performed in an astounding 502 consecutive video games–a file that may seemingly by no means be damaged. His secret to success? Earlier than each sport, he made himself throw up.

”I at all times felt I performed higher if I used to be bodily sick earlier than the sport. If I wasn’t sick, I felt I hadn’t finished all the things I may to attempt to win,” mentioned Corridor nonchalantly.

After vomiting, Corridor would drink a glass of orange juice, then exit for the sport.

Honorable Loopy Mentions

Damian Rhodes

Earlier than each house sport, Rhodes would dye his hair blonde in his resort room. The peroxide child helped the Ottawa Senators knock off Marty Brodeur and the top-seeded New Jersey Devils in 1997-98.

Pelle Lindbergh

Throughout intermissions, the Flyers goalie would solely drink Pripps, a Swedish drink. It needed to comprise precisely two ice cubes and be served to his proper hand. And whereas that’s a bit odd, Lindbergh had a extra disturbing superstition: a love for his orange t-shirt he’d put on below his gear.

RELATED: Remembering the Nice Pelle Lindbergh

The smelly, tattered t-shirt took on a lifetime of its personal as Lindbergh refused to clean it. Ever. When the shirt began to collapse, he had it sewn up. He by no means washed it. Not as soon as.

Neil Little

Some goalies come out of their web and stand close to the blue line exhibiting they’re prepared to interact in a struggle. Not Neil Little. He actually threw himself right into a scrum, flying head first into the fray. By advantage of this one play alone, Little deserves a spot on this listing.

Tim Thomas

As evidenced by this vicious slash to Alex Burrows, in case you disrespected him or any of his teammates, Tim Thomas wasn’t afraid to take issues into his personal arms. The Conn Smythe Trophy winner can also be identified for selecting to not go to the White Home for his or her Stanley Cup meet-and-greet with then President Barack Obama.

Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins, 2010 Bridgestone Winter Basic, Jan. 1, 2010 (Photograph by Elsa/Getty Photographs)

Ron Tugnutt

Tugnutt appeared like a wonderfully regular goalie. Till one witnessed the advanced and odd method he ready for a sport. It’s essentially the most sophisticated ritual identified to fashionable man.

It begins with a determine eight within the crease, adopted by an abrupt flip up the ice in a crouch. He then involves a cease roughly 20 ft from the crease, squats, then leaps straight as much as a standing place. Subsequent, he rhythmically faucets his pads a sure method, hops on one foot then the opposite and tilts his head earlier than finishing elevating his stick within the air and rubbing the taped blade with the again of his catching glove. It’s as loopy because it sounds. (Whereas many sources confirmed his dance of epic proportions, sadly video couldn’t be discovered.)

Invoice Durnan

Some goalies demand perfection of themselves like Invoice Durnan who was satisfied that he ought to cease each single shot. In his seven-year NHL profession, he received the Vezina six occasions and was the proud proprietor of the NHL’s longest consecutive shutout streak (309 minutes, 21 seconds) in 1949. The file stood till Brian Boucher broke it (332 minutes and 1 second) as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes throughout the 2003–04 NHL season.

The strain of being excellent ultimately acquired to Durnan and he requested out of the lineup. In 1950, Montreal coach Dick Irvin bumped into Durnan and fellow teammate and goalie Gerry McNeil earlier than an important sport. They had been each crying. Seems, Durnan by no means performed one other NHL sport.

“I used to be afraid I used to be blowing issues. I actually wasn’t, I suppose, however we hadn’t received a sport and I didn’t wish to be blamed for it. And I felt I wasn’t taking part in in addition to I did up to now. The nerves and all of the accompanying crap had been constructed up. It was the end result of a whole lot of pondering and I spotted ‘What the hell, I’m quitting and that is pretty much as good as time as any’,” mentioned Durnan.
Gerry McNeil stepped in and completed the playoffs.

“Lots of people thought it was a nervous breakdown nevertheless it wasn’t. To this present day, folks nonetheless received’t imagine me.

Durnan’s eventual successor in objective for the Canadiens was none aside from Jacques Plante, one of the vital acknowledged and historic goaltender ever to face in entrance of the online.

Tuukka Rask

There’s a effective line between being upset after a loss and going loco after a loss. When Tuukka Rask permits a objective throughout a shootout, he goes ballistic. In reality, based on a research finished in 2013, Rask has a one-in-three probability of shedding his thoughts when the Bruins lose in a shootout.

Rask’s conduct could be traced again to a sport by which he misplaced in extra time whereas taking part in for the AHL’s Windfall Bruins. He went completely haywire. Rask is a stick-smashing grasp when he’s upset.

Invoice Ranford

A Stanley Cup winner in 1990 with the Oilers, Invoice Ranford wouldn’t permit a referee to take the puck away from his glove till he had flipped it up into the air and it landed on the bottom of his glove.

Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov insisted that no water bottle be positioned on high of his web till after the primary whistle. Because of this, the group’s coach needed to slide it out to him throughout the first stoppage in play.

Jocelyn Thibault

At exactly six-and-a-half minutes earlier than a sport started, Thibault would pour water over his head. Cue the music: he’s a maniac… maniac on the ground.

Ed Belfour

Whereas Ed Belfour’s attribute face masks earned him the nickname ‘Eddie the Eagle,’ his quirks and off-ice antics earned him the nickname ‘Loopy Eddie.’

Belfour was so obsessed and explicit about his gear that many have heard him say, “You contact my stuff, I’ll kill you.”

Whereas in Chicago, Loopy Eddie’s ultra-competitive persona typically clashed along with his head coach, Mike Keenan. Belfour has been arrested twice for a wide range of points. Each occasions he supplied the arresting officers bribes–the primary for $100,000, the second for $1 billion {dollars}. Neither helped his case.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Although he’s now a Minnesota Wild, Fleury and his Penguin teammates would wrestle and tough one another up earlier than robust or essential video games. For the reason that Penguins often received, they saved it up and it in the end turned a ritual.

He additionally made positive to thank his objective posts each time a puck hit them with just a few gentle faucets and sort phrases.


With a singular perspective of the sport, it’s no surprise so a lot of as we speak’s TV hockey analysts are former goalies. Darren Pang, Kelly Hrudey, Steve Valiquette, John Garrett, and Greg Millen have all developed a watch for the sport and an understanding of it most individuals won’t ever comprehend.

Goalies are an odd bunch with superstitious quirks, weird rituals and feisty tempers. These are the very issues that add character to the sport we love a lot.

When you can’t get sufficient of the intricacies and backstories to a few of sport’s nice goalies, try Kevin Allen’s e book “With out Concern.” It ranks the 50 biggest goalies, with tales about a lot of these talked about on this article.

When you’ve got some goaltender anecdotes to share with us, please achieve this under.

* initially printed within the spring of 2018

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Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown specializes in soccer, covering MLS, NWSL, and international competitions. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Media. Olivia has written for and ESPN FC, providing thorough coverage and in-depth analysis of the sport.


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