Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante wore his goalie masks for the primary time ever on today.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante is arguably the most effective goaltender in franchise historical past. He’s definitely within the prime three with Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy, however selecting one as the most effective of all time is troublesome.
What isn’t troublesome is deciding which particular person second in Habs goaltending historical past had the largest affect on the sport of hockey.
It wasn’t Patrick Roy winking at Tomas Sandstrom within the Stanley Cup Ultimate. It wasn’t Ken Dryden leaning on his stick together with his chin. It wasn’t anybody lifting the Stanley Cup or Conn Smythe Trophy or profitable the Vezina.
The one second that occurred within the crease of the Montreal Canadiens that has had the biggest affect on the sport was when Jacques Plante modified the face of goaltending. On today in 1959, Plante lastly had sufficient with the accidents from being hit with pucks and wore a masks whereas taking part in web in an NHL recreation.
It was unthinkable on the time and hadn’t occurred earlier than. It could be unthinkable now for a goaltender to go wherever close to the ice with out a helmet and masks on his head.
The story is the stuff of legend. Plante was uninterested in having his face cut up open by sticks and pucks and commenced carrying a masks in apply.
Toe Blake was his head coach on the time and although he had nice imaginative and prescient on the ice as a participant, and at all times appeared to be two steps forward of his opponent throughout video games, he didn’t suppose a goaltender may correctly see the puck with a masks on and thought it might make Plante far much less efficient in objective.
When Plante was as soon as once more sliced open, this time by an Andy Bathgate rocket off the frenzy on November 1, 1959, Plante informed Blake he wouldn’t return on the ice with out a masks. Blake didn’t have a lot alternative, particularly because it was the center of a recreation and groups didn’t carry a backup on the time.
So, Plante stepped on the ice at Madison Sq. Backyard together with his masks. After the sport, he informed Blake he wouldn’t play one other recreation with out one. Blake was not happy with the concept, however lastly realized he didn’t have a lot alternative.
Changing Plante on the time would have been troublesome. He took over because the Canadiens starter in 1954-55 and rapidly established himself as the sport’s finest puck stopper.
He gained the Vezina Trophy every year from 1956-60 and likewise led the workforce to the Stanley Cup for an unprecedented 5 straight years. Plante would win the Vezina once more in 1962 however this time he was named the Hart Trophy winner as league MVP as properly.
Plante was traded to the New York Rangers only a 12 months after he gained the Hart Trophy. He didn’t fairly proceed his robust play with the Rangers, and took three years off earlier than returning to play for the St. Louis Blues in 1968-69. He helped them make it to the Stanley Cup Ultimate twice earlier than touchdown in Toronto with the Maple Leafs in 1970-71.
Plante was 41 years outdated that season however posted a 1.88 targets towards common and a .942 save share in 40 video games. Fairly unimaginable numbers for a 41 12 months outdated netminder. It might need earned him some Hart Trophy chatter once more if he performed a couple of extra video games. Oh, and if that child named Bobby Orr wasn’t doing issues nobody had seen earlier than.
Plante’s later years after he got here out of retirement with the St. Louis Blues, then the Maple Leafs, a brief sting with the Boston Bruins after which one other 12 months with the Edmonton Oilers within the WHA have largely been forgotten over time.
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Nevertheless, Plante stepping on the ice on today, 61 years in the past, carrying a masks for the primary time won’t ever be forgotten.