Posted by: cedarsurf | March 24, 2010

He Shoots-They Write a Ticket!

As reported in the Globe and Mail today The good old street hockey game is again under attack – and it’s fighting back.

David Sasson was playing ball hockey with a dozen kids on Choquette Street in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux when the police blew the whistle.

A neighbour had filed a complaint under long-standing municipal bylaws, similar to those in most Canadian cities, which make it illegal to play any game on a street.

“I couldn’t believe it, I had no idea hockey on the street was illegal,” said Mr. Sasson, who is the father of two boys, aged 7 and 10, who were players.

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Posted by: cedarsurf | March 23, 2010

Ongoing Winter (Olympic) Fun

The tobogganing and skate sports have continued on with the Paralympic Games just concluding. I was in the gym Saturday on the stair master watching the Sledge Hockey between the USA and Japan (the US won the gold -congratulations) and a variety of highlights from the Vancouver games .

Lauren Woolstencroft was truly astounding taking home Five Gold Medals in downhill events. Born with out legs below the knee and missing one half arm watching Woolstencroft zipping down the hills is truly astonishing -and with such authority.

My old gym partner Rick Hansen has been once again brought into focus with these Games (he worked out at the Vancouver Downtown Nautilus where I was an instructor in the early to mid 80’s. Hansen was training for his Man in Motion go round the world.) It is the 25th anniversary of his tour and with the Paralympics in town Rick was an Ambassador to the Games and the perfect go to guy for thoughts and ideas about Paralympics etc. Hansen emphasizes that it is all about the competition and the competitiveness -not a pity party or -but how can we help ourselves a shortcut lesson in inspiration- the competition comes first.

Along those lines Brian McKeever of Canmore,Alta. yes, a member of the other Olympic squad as well as the Parlaympic won his third gold medal on the last day of the Paralympics with a victory in the one-kilometre cross country sprint for the visually impaired.
Elsewhere Kristina Groves, 33 captured gold in the 1,500 metre world all-round speed skating championships in Netherland -the hot bed of all things speed skatey.She won the silver in the event at the Vancouver Olympics and is retiring with a bang.
Meanwhile after a bumpy Olympic ride Canadian pair champions Jesica Dube and Bryce Davison are hoping for more this week at the World Championships in Turin, Italy.

Finally West Vancouver snowboarder Maelle Ricker who gold at Vancouver, took the world’s women’s title in snowcross .

Congratulations all!

For me as close to amateur (the love of doing something)  as you need to get in sport .

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 22, 2010

Holy Toxic Hockey Sticks Batman!

Fascinating story in the Globe Saturday about toxic levels of lead in hockey sticks. No not pencils silly -hockey sticks!

After testing a junior stick, the Nike Bauer Supreme One50, Health Canada discovered the yellow paint contained a lead level of 23,000 milligrams per kilogram, about 40 times above the allowable limit. Subsequent tests over a three-week period by Bauer on its remaining 200 models of junior and youth sticks revealed that 12 others, made in a Chinese facility, were above the allowable lead limit of 600 milligrams per kilogram.

Bauer Hockey, one of the largest makers of sports equipment, promptly recalled 100,000 sticks worldwide, including 67,000 in Canada, this week.

As one comment noted: I’m not sure which is sadder, the fact that most hockey sticks are made in China now instead of Canada, or that these companies that are attempting to profit by moving all the domestic production to China are not even responsible enough to verify the quality.

For a related story of when sticks began to be sick check Holy Exploding Hockey Sticks here at Sports Crap.

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 21, 2010

Kid in the Hall -Ryan Kesler

Did any of you get the chance to see the most excellent latest Kids in the Hall series called Death Comes to Town? A case of fantastic ensemble acting, a great visual look and yes, a dark comedy about a Grim Reaper come to a little bug fart town called Shuckton (shot in North Bay Ontario it looks beautiful ).

The Reaper stays at the No Tell Motel -and yes he makes house calls. He has this monkeys paw like – grim reaper i- skeleton plastic hand that rings when ever he has to make a house call. Well naturaly, Mr. G. goes around town doing what he does best -killing people and leaving a trail of suspects and future victims. Good fun , a great variety of characters played by each actor. Scott Thompson is particularly brilliant in his love affair with a dead Bruce McCulloch character. They all shine. You tube it -or whatever now.

Speaking of the Kids in the Hall -Ryan Kesler has signed a six year $30 million contract . Yes, folks that’s five million a season. No one can forget Kesler in the Hall on TV between the second and third period of the Canada-USA Gold Medal game suggesting his Canuck teammate Roberto Luongo (playing against him in this game as the goalie for Team Canada) was looking shakey going into the third.

Remember when Bobby Clarke in his last move as a Flyers General Manager offered Kesler  a $1.9 million deal, for scoring ten  goals and the Canucks had to match what was considered an insane offer or lose him. It was taken as one more sign that the old Kharlamov ankle slapper had lost the cup to his jock. Sure Kesler is ‘scaling’ his stats steadily powering up (he’s got 66 points so far  this season), he’s got game and a bit of a, dare-I say- the love that dare not speak its name- ‘typical’ American cockiness to him-it makes him a winner -he’s Jarkko Ruutu with talent and is developing a real Camille ‘The Eel’ Henry talent for tipping the puck.

But $5 Million?! Yes, yes, yes its the market value. And its a silly auld world.

Even the Canucks GM Mike Gillis ( aformer player’s agent) is basically admitting they paid a lot (and of course does that mean more than market value?) when he commented “we’re hoping that this is going to drive Ryan to be even better.” well time will tell -its kind of like he bought a Ryan Kesler Futures.

Good luck Mr. Kesler. And welcome aboard the long term contract ship with the Sedins, Louie and now you my man.

I will be curious to watch the evolution of a long term contract amd fans expectations/relationships in regard to Mr. Luongo. Who has now been pulled seven times and he may be next year’s  J.S. Giguere.

Giguère’s first winning season in the NHL helped the Mighty Ducks enter the 2003 playoffs as the seventh seed in the Western Conference.From that point, Giguere delivered what many regard to be one of the greatest playoff performances in NHL history as he helped lead the team on a Cinderella run.to their first First Stanley Cup Finals.

Giguère’s playoff MVP performance was rewarded in the off-season with a four-year contract extension, signed on September 10, 2003 However, his performance was inconsistent throughout much of the 2003-04 as the Mighty Ducks missed the playoffs. He posted a losing 17-31-6 record and his GAA increased to 2.62..He is now a comeback project with Brian Burke’s (his GM in Anaheim) Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is not to want any ill will for Luongo its just furthers my own personal enmity to ridiculous figures which supposedly represent market value.

There is something very Death Comes to Town about long term contract’s and like the fine Kids in the Hall series I will be watching with interest.

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 16, 2010

The Man They Call Mr. Goalie

The Man They Call Mr. Goalie – Glenn Hall
By Tom Adrahtas
Greystone Books

As a future Hall of Fame Goaltender Glenn Hall was blessed with quick reflexes, a quicker wit and a weak stomach. Hall had to hurl before getting into the net before each game. “I was just so excited to go out and play it made me throw up,” he recalled. “I thought of it as a strength.”

Although he became known as Mr. Goalie, he was known as Ghoulie by his teammates for his white, pale post-hurl complexion. Hall who was born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan would retire before each season to “paint his barn” and ultimately would be lured back to the game so he could become a “more comfortable farmer.”

Hall was also the inventor of the Butterfly style of goalie dropping to both knees to stop the puck in a V style. The Detroit Red Wings at a regional camp they were putting on in Saskatoon scouted Hall. Hall was now on the Red Wings radar. Hall had the best glove hand Red Wings scout Jimmy Skinner had ever seen. Hall was a reflex goalie.

Hall began his professional hockey career at the Wings farm club in Indianapolis. “ I was elated to be going to the AHL,” he said.” That meant I was going to play professional hockey.” The team that Hall would play with in Indianapolis was bolstered by the presence of future NHL stars Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiuk and Norm Ullman.

Hall’s got the call to play in Detroit when Terry Sawchuk injured himself. Hal arrived but his equipment was left behind. Hall would borrow the equipment of the Detroit trainer Lefty Wilson, himself a goalkeeper who often practiced with the club. Hall borrowed the equipment and then had to face the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum with borrowed equipment.

After the first period the Wings trailed 1-0. Gordie Howe got into a fight just before the period ended. “The Wings always sipped tea between periods,” recalled Red Wing coach Tommy Ivan. It was thought that tea would calm a player’s nerves between periods and help him settle down. “I was sitting near Glenn trying to calm him down a bit when I caught something out of the corner of my eye. A baggage trunk separated Howe from Lefty Wilson who was serving the tea. Instead of rising to each for the paper cup of tea, the Big Guy turned the blade of his stick flat and had Wilson put the cup on it. Nonchalant as you please, he pulled the stick toward him without spilling a drop. Mind you he wasn’t showing off.”

Howe’s firm hand said to his teammates that he wasn’t nervous about facing down the Habs without Sawchuk. The Wings came back and tied the Canadiens 2-2.The Wings were outshot 34 to 17 in his NHL debut.

Sawchuk would eventually be traded to make room for Hall. Here Hall would develop his V style He says he developed it as a result of trying to see around Jean Beliveau. “ I started using the V to cope with seeing around and through Beliveau. I couldn’t move him, so I would drop down to cover as much net as possible while still trying to locate the puck. In order to stop it, you have to see it, and the ‘V’ gave me a chance to see it.”

Hall was an independent, intelligent athlete in an age when players were treated like cattle. When Hall walked into Jack Adam’s office to negotiate his sophomore contract contract, he went in feeling he deserved a raise from the NHL minimum $7,500 he’d received in his rookie year. Adams responded that there was just no way the Norris family could afford to pay Glenn anything more. Hall didn’t back down, and Adams relented, magnanimously assenting to a $500 bonus “because you came so close to winning the Vezina, Now, son, I don’t want you talking to anyone about me giving you this raise.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Adams,” Glenn replied as he got out of his chair. “I won’t. I’m ashamed of it too.” Adams, unused to such sarcasm, was taken aback. He didn’t like the backtalk, and his relationship with Glenn began to sour.

Before the 1956-57 season NHL players led by Hall’s teammate Ted Lindsay began to talk of forming a union. Jack Adams was pressured by the league to help quash the movement. Hall and Lindsay were traded to the cellar dwelling Chicago Black Hawks. Things would improve slowly for the Hawks who now had Stan Makita and Bobby Hull in their lineup.

In 1960-61 Hall and the Hawks would win the Stanley Cup. The Montreal Canadiens string of five Stanley Cups would come to an end. When the last of the champagne was poured, Mr. Goalie headed back home to Western Canada and his summer job at a fast food restaurant flipping burgers. When your salary was $11,500 for a Stanley Cup season that was how you spent your summer vacation.

Glenn Hall’s durability was phenomenal. Coming into the 1961-62 season, he’d played every game, regular season and playoffs, for his teams for all six seasons of his NHL career. IN all Hall played 500 consecutive games –all without a goalie mask. If you include his AHL games Hall played all 881 games in which he was eligible to play. No wonder he hated practices.

Things were about to change however as the two goalie system was introduced and in the 1963-64 season Denis DeJordy became Hall’s sidekick. Despite Dejordy’s presence Hall would play 65 out of 70 games that season. Hall was notorious for being extremely hard on himself if he believes he had a bad game. No one could be harder on Hall though than the Chicago fans who would boo him mercilessly if he had an off game.

Hall however never admitted to hearing catcalls from the stands. “When I was playing, I’d only hear one guy in the stands,” he said. “ He was the guy who’d say, ‘Beeeeer.Get your cold beeer.”

In the summer of 1965 Hall purchased a small grain farm in Stony Plain, Alberta. “There had been nights when I almost wished I didn’t have to go out on the ice,” he recalls. “ All I wanted to do is stand out in the middle of the 160 acres …and holler, ’Damn you! Damn you! Damn you! Until I’m good and hoarse and hear the ‘You! You! You! Echo back across the field.”

With that Hall informed Hawks general manager Tommy Ivan that he would be retiring from the game. The start of the 1966-67 season for the Hawks represented a now or never situation for the team. Bobby Hull was at the peak of his powers and Stan Mikita had become one of the premier forwards in the league. Nikita was centering the “Scooter Line” of Ken Wharram and Doug Mohns. Hull’s center, a young guy named Phil Esposito was showing some promise. All that was missing was there goaler.
Hall was about to turn 35, he discovered that finding a job in town while continuing to work the farm was a tall order. Ivan offered Hall a raise of $40,000, which kept him the highest paid goalie in the league.

Hall returned and this year the two goalie system was in full swing. But this didn’t bother Hall. “Glenn never broods when he’s on the bench,” recalled Hawks coach Billy Reay”…it’s though you offered him $1,000.”

Unfortunately the Hawks again failed to win the Stanley Cup and on the horizon was the expansion of the six-team league to double its size.

Despite winning the Vezina Trophy in 1967, Hall was left unprotected for that summer’s NHL expansion draft. The 36-year-old veteran was chosen by the St. Louis Blues. The Blues, one of six expansion franchises in their first year in the league, stocked themselves with veteran talent including Red Berenson and Phil Goyette, and won the Western Division playoffs in two seven-game series. Hall’s play led them all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Most hockey fans expected an utter rout when the established Canadiens faced the 1st-year expansion Blues. But this was Hall’s third trip to the finals, and his goaltending was the most outstanding contribution to the surprisingly good performance of the Blues against the Montreal Canadiens. The Blues lost the best-of-seven series getting swept 4–0, but in 4 exciting 1-goal games (3–2 (OT), 1–0. 4–3 (OT), and 3–2). Hall’s remarkable play was recognized by the award to him of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ Most Valuable Player, an award rarely going to a player from a losing team.

In 1968, veteran goaltending legend Jacques Plante joined the Blues, sharing duties with Hall. The two put together a fine season in 1968-69, winning the Vezina Trophy.
He had retired after the 1968–69 season season, but Hall came out of retirement to play 18 games in 1969–70 season.

Hall’s career ended after the 1970–71 season when he announced his retirement at the age of 40. In 1975 he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Hall won his third Stanley Cup as the goaltender coach with Calgary Flames in 1989.

Hall ended his career with 407 wins, 84 shutouts, a career GAA of 2.49, and was voted to eleven All-Star Games. Hall still holds the record for the most First Team All-Star selections (7) which he achieved while playing the same era as other greats, Sawchuk and Plante –as well as other Hall of Famers, such as Johnny Bower and Gump Worsley.

In 1998, he was ranked number 16 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, currently the highest rank for a living former goaltender (No. 13-ranked Jacques Plante died in 1986, and No. 9 Terry Sawchuk in 1970).

This book is superbly written due to Tom Adrahtas’s insider knowledge o the game. Adrahtas has coached hockey for 22 years and bring s a keen understanding and appreciation of the goalkeeper position. The book was written with the full co-operation of Hall and is reflected in the tone, which has awry, wise humorous look at the game.

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 15, 2010

Argonauts Sign Canadian QB

(Russ Jackson)

The Toronto Argonauts signing of Queen’s quarterback Danny Brannagan to a contract is understandably being treated as great news by CFL fans. The league has not seen a starting Canadian QB since Russ Jackson (although Gerry Datillio had a brief run with the Als in the late 70s) over 40 years ago. As the Argos are at ground zero for QB’s after the release of Kerry Joseph and Cody Pickett there could be no better time than now to offer this young man the opportunity. The move is to be applauded.

Brannagan led the Queen’s Gaels to their first Vanier Cup Championship since 1992, earning the Most Valuable Player and Yates Cup MVP honours along the way.
A potential incentive for retaining third string Canadian quarterbacks (thus giving him time to learn the ropes) could be that it would not count against the salary cap.Hopefully Brannagan can start in the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto in 2012.

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 11, 2010

Bob Biniak,51 R.I.P

Sad news today. Bob Biniak,51 radical skater and surfboarder broke on through to the other side. This is an obit from the New York Times. I am sure that when Biniak started out as a bad-ass skater in Dogtown (Venice Beach-Santa Monica) he never imagined he would be remembered by such an august publication. Biniak  and the Z-Boys had a revival in popularity due to the Sean Penn narrated and fellow Z-Boy Stacey Peralta directed Dogtown.

About Z-Boys

Dogtown is an area of West Los Angeles – the poorer, slum area on the south side of Santa Monica that covered Venice Beach and Ocean Park Beaches.

Throughout the 1970’s, the surfers in Dogtown were aggressive and antisocial. They fit into the stereotype of the time that surfers were poor dropouts. For a lot of these young people, surfing was all they had.

Surfing at The Cove Right between Venice beach and Santa Monica was an abandoned amusement park right on the water called the Pacific Ocean Park Pier. The locals called it the P-O-P. In the middle of the POP was an area where the huge wood pilings and rickety piers were built in a U shape, creating a kind of secret cove. And that’s what the locals called it – “The Cove”. It was an incredibly dangerous place to surf, with large tilted wood pilings jutting from the watter, and not enough room for all the surfers.

But the local surfers of Dogtown prized their secret surf spot, and defended it fiercely – often with force. Outsiders had to earn their way in.

This kind of lifestyle and mindset drove into these young people the need to prove themselves. They knew what performance was about, they knew that they had to prove themselves to be anyone.

Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard Productions In 1972, Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk started up a surf shop called Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard Productions right in the middle of Dogtown. Jeff Ho hand crafted surfboards, and pushed the limits and ideas of surfboard design. He was unique, cutting edge, and a little crazy. Craig Stecyk was the artist who designed the surfboard’s graphics. Most surfboards at the time used soft, rainbow images or calm, pretty island scenes. Craig pulled his graphics from local graffiti, and made Zephyr surfboards reflect the area that they were made in.

The Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard Productions shop also started up the Zephyr surf team. Dogtown was full of young surfers who had nowhere to go, and who were hungry to prove themselves and gain an identity. The Zephyr team provided just that. A lot of what went on in the shop was sketchy at best, but these kids came from broken and messed up families, and the Zephyr team provided a home.

Bob Biniak,51, a Member of Skateboarding’s Z-Boys

By Matt Higgins

New York Times  March 7th
Bob Biniak, a leading member of the Zephyr Skate Team, a California group whose aggressive, surfing-inspired approach to skateboarding during the 1970s reinvented the sport and was celebrated in two films, died Feb. 25 in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., where he was visiting friends. He was 51.

Biniak died at Baptist Medical Center Beaches four days after having a heart attack, said his wife, Charlene Capitolo.

Until moving to Benicia, in Northern California, two years ago, Biniak lived most of his life near the Santa Monica-Venice Beach neighborhood called Dogtown. Growing up there during the ’70s, he and other members of the Zephyr team — operating out of the Zephyr surf shop in Santa Monica and known as the Z-Boys — began by treating skateboarding as a cross-training activity for surfing.

“We all started skating at Bicknell hill, trying to get real low,” Biniak said in “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” a well-received 2001 documentary that had a wide theatrical release. “We would be like looking at the surf and riding this hill and dropping in and sliding like we were riding a wave.”

Biniak was known as Bullet for his fast, fearless approach to skating.

“The basis of his strength was to go as fast as you could, and do it with grace,” said Tony Alva, a Z-Boy and world champion in skateboarding.

But Biniak also cultivated a reputation as a tough customer.

“He wasn’t somebody you would want to come up against in any kind of competition,” Alva said. “He could be very intimidating.”

When the Z-Boys entered their first formal competition, the 1975 Del Mar Nationals, skateboarding was based on a 1960s model that was gymnastically oriented with a standup style. With their low-slung approach and ripped jeans, the Z-Boys caused an uproar among competitors.

“It was like a hockey team going to a figure skating contest,” Biniak said in “Dogtown and Z-Boys.”

A nationwide resurgence in skateboarding catapulted the Z-Boys into the spotlight. They popularized riding in empty swimming pools and invented many of the maneuvers that laid the foundation for modern vertical skateboarding, a discipline performed in pools and on ramps.

Biniak pioneered professionalism in the sport.

“He was the first skateboarder to demand compensation for his image,” said Skip Engblom, a co-owner of the Zephyr shop.

By 1980, skateboarding had plummeted in popularity, and Biniak drifted out of the scene and began golfing, playing in tournaments in Europe and South Africa, his wife said. He had worked as a salesman since the 1990s. When he turned 50, he tried to qualify for the United States Senior Open golf tournament.

Robert Edward Biniak was born June 2, 1958, in Chicago and moved to Santa Monica as a child with his mother and sisters. In addition to his wife of 12 years, Biniak is survived by a daughter, Brianna, 5; his mother, Dolores Levy; and his sisters, Mary Ellen Barnett and Kathy Higgs.

In the 2005 Hollywood film “Lords of Dogtown,” a fictional treatment of the Z-Boys, Biniak appeared as a restaurant manager. In the documentary, he played a more prominent role, recalling his teenage exploits.

“If you look at some of the still shots from back then, you’ll see that I’m on the wall, with nothing on,” he said about not wearing pads or a helmet. “If you fall then, you’re going to get hurt.

“We didn’t care,” Biniak said. “We just wanted to get radical.”

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 10, 2010

Sawchuk

Terry Sawchuk as he appeared in the March 4, 1966 issue of Life magazine. The scars were exenuated by a make up artist . One wonders why Sawchuk felt he didn’t need a mask. He did begin wearing one in 1962.

Six attackers, frantic to even the score,
the rink tips, bodies piling onto me. Ferguson
hacks my bad elbow, his look says,
Here’s bone for your jar.
Hooks my feet from under me, lands on my legs. I punch
at the back of his head and get this whiff of hair cream.
All of this in silence. Nothing personal,
though there may be memories
“Next Time” by Randall Maggs,
from Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems (Brick Books, 2008)

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 10, 2010

Jacques Plante

Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey

By Todd Denault (McClelland & Stewart)

The life of Jacques Plante is a reminder that the efforts and work of any innovator are often met with derision. While Plante is remembered most for being the inventor of the goalie mask and the first to wear it in a NHL game his list of accomplishments are numerous including: being the first goalie to leave the net to clear and handle pucks, the first to point out the necessity of a two-goalie system, the first to go behind the net to stop the puck for his teammates to retrieve it, the first to raise his hand as a signal to his teammates that the officials were making an icing call, which soon became commonplace,he also wrote the first instructional manual detailing how to play goal. Oh and did I mention he knitted his own socks and underwear that he wore in NHL games-how cool is that?

But Plante had other traits that were less appealing. He was stubborn, sometimes criticized his teammates, was terribly cheap and was considered a hypochondriac. He was a difficult character. Plante fought Canadiens Coach Toe Blake for years before Blake would allow him to wear a mask in a game.

But if Blake was reluctant to see Plante don the mask members of the goaltending fraternity were even more harsh in their criticism. “ I thought he was a wimp,” recalls Glenn Hall of the Chicago Black Hawks. And this from Gump Worsley at the time “ How the hell can the mask protect you when it’s hit flush against the face. My objection to the mask is that it is not necessary. Why, all of a sudden, after, hockey has been played for seventy years, do we decide we should wear masks?” One wonders how Worsley would have responded to the wheel in its time.

And this from Terry Sawchuk: “I’ve been a pro goalie for more than a dozen years and I’ve never worn a mask in a game. I don’t see any reason to start now.”

Eventually all three all-star goalies would wear a mask – although Worsley would only wear it in his last season in the league.

Despite or perhaps as a result of his determined nature, when lists of all-time greats are compiled, Plante’s accomplishments as a goaltender and innovator always place him high.

The 1997 ranking of the top 100 N.H.L.ers of all time by The Hockey News listed Plante as the thirteenth greatest, second among goaltenders behind his contemporary Terry Sawchuk.

Plante won the Vezina Trophy (best goalie) five straight times, seven in all, which is a record. He backstopped Canadiens to their record five straight Stanley Cup championships and won six overall. He was awarded the Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player) in 1962, which no goaler had won in eight seasons and none would win it again until Dominik Hasek in 1997.

Plante was born into a hardworking family of ten in Shawinigan ,Quebec (the home of some guy named Jean Chretien). His father was a machinist for the Aluminum Company of Canada Limited. Jacques was the oldest in the family and responsible for many chores. His chores included scrubbing floors, cooking and changing diapers. With not much in the way of extra money, most of his clothing was handmade and Jacques became proficient with a needle, some thread and yarn. These were skills he carried into his adulthood and contributed to his legend.

Plante was a scientist of the game. A skill he learned early. “Nobody ever taught me to play goal,” recalled Plante.

Like many boys growing up in Quebec Plante dreamed of playing for the Montreal Canadiens. Although his family could not afford a radio a renter upstairs could and Plante would listen to the broadcasts through the ceiling.

At the age of 12, Plante managed to land the goaltending job on a high school team stocked with boys 17 and 18 years old. This was his first step to the big leagues. At the age of 15 Plante was playing goal in thre different age levels simultaneously: midget, juvenile and junior.

In the Fall of 1947 Plante was invited to the training camp of the Montreal Junior Canadiens of the Quebec Junior Hockey League. The Canadiens made an offer for Plante . A dream come true. But not so fast. The Quebec Citadels operating in direct competition with the Canadiens were offering $85 a week for Jacques to star in Quebec City, $50 more than the Canadiens offer. Plante who would never forget his working class roots took the Citadels up on their offer. He quickly established himself as the best goalie in the league and for the first time began to rove from the net.

Plante quickly established himself as the best goalie in the Quebec Junior Hockey League.After three years playing there and then for the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League Plante got the call to play for the Montreal Canadiens. He would be part of a legendary run of five Stanley Cup wins in a row with the Canadiens. Still he was not without his critics some said that Plante owed his success to that of legendary defenceman and teammate Doug Harvey.

It was another Canadiens teammate, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geofrion who would accelerate the necessity of the mask. Geoffrion invented the slapshot and it changed everything. “ I had skated in on goal,” Geoffrion recounted in his autobiography, “and released a wrist shot but missed the net. I t always upset me when that happened but this time I blew up and began wildly slapping my stick at the puck as if to give a psnaking. I connected and the puck moved so fast it went through the net. I couldn’t believe it! When I saw the puck come out the other side I thought to myself, this is omething that goalies are going to be afraid of for a long, long , time.”

And for every action there is a reaction –the mask. Actually it was a wrist shot by New York star Andy Bathgate that brought the mask into the game. Bathgate was seeking revenge on Plante for a poke check that sent Bathgate sprawling into the boards behind the net. “I t was a wrist shot,” recalled Bathgate.” It wasn’t a hard shot but I tried to give to him the same as me and I caught him. It was a shot with feeling in it, it wasn’t a blast, and I wasn’t trying to score because the angle was really bad, but his head ws sticking out and I decided if he wanted to play those games…”

The puck had struck Plante directly in the face, opening a cut from the corner of his mouth up through his nostril. Plante had the wound repaired at Madison Square Garden. He also came prepared he had his goaltending mask with him. He had been carrying a mask with him for the past few years. He was not going on the ice without it.

When Plante stepped back onto the ice with his mask covering his injured face and skated towards his crease, the crowd let out a gasp of shock and amazement. “ I already had four broken noses, a broken jaw, two broken cheekbones, and almost 200 stitches in my head. I didn’t care how the mask looked. The way things were going, I was afraid I would look just like the mask.”

The mask and Plante would slip into history and he would not play without it. In three years every goalie in the league would be wearing one except Worsley.

A few years later knee injuries would take their toll on Plante. Surgery was required and Charlie Hodge served as his substitute. Plante ws traded to New York where he had two mediocore seasons. He retired for three seasona nd then returned to St. Louis with the expansion Blues. He shared the duties with Mr. Goalie Glenn Hall. Plante was 40 and Hall was 37 they became the oldest goaltenders to win a Vezina Trophy.

After the Canadiens were eliminated for the third straight year in the first playoff round during the spring of 1963, there was mounting pressure for change from their fans and media. Growing tension between Plante and Blake because of Plante’s inconsistent work ethic and demeanor caused Blake to declare that for the 1963–64 season either he or Plante must go. On June 4, 1963, Plante was traded to the New York Rangers, with Phil Goyette and Don Marshall in exchange for Gump Worsley, Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort, and Len Ronson. Plante played for the Rangers for one full season and part of a second. He retired in 1965 while playing for the minor-league Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League. His wife was ill at the time, and he required surgery on his right knee.

Upon retirement, Plante took a job with Molson as a sales representative but remained active in the NHL. In 1965, Scotty Bowman asked Plante to play for the Montreal Jr. Canadiens in a game against the Soviet National Team. Honoured to represent his country, Plante agreed, and after receiving permission from both the Rangers (who owned his rights) and Molson, he began practicing. The Canadiens won 2–1, and Plante was named first star of the game.

At the beginning of the 1967–68 NHL season, Plante received a call from his ex-teammate Bert Olmstead seeking some help coaching the expansion Oakland Seals. Plante coached mainly by example, and after the three week training camp he returned home to Montreal. Rumours swirled that Plante was planning a comeback.

In June 1968, Plante was drafted by the St. Louis Blues and signed for $35,000 for the 1968–69 season. In his first season with the Blues, Plante split the goaltending duties with Glenn Hall. He won the Vezina Trophy that season for the seventh time, surpassing Bill Durnan’s record. While playing for the Blues in the 1969–70 playoffs against the Boston Bruins, a shot fired by Fred Stanfield and redirected by Phil Esposito hit Plante in the forehead, knocking him out and breaking his fibreglass mask. The first thing Plante said after he regained consciousness at the hospital was that the mask saved his life. That game proved to be his last for the Blues, and he was traded in the summer of 1970 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

At the age of 42 He led the NHL with the lowest goals against average (GAA) during his first season with the Maple Leafs. At season’s end, he was named to the NHL’s second All-Star team, his seventh such honour. He continued to play for the Leafs until he was traded to the Boston Bruins late in the 1972–73 season. He played eight regular season and two playoff games for the Bruins to finish that season, his last in the NHL.

Plante accepted a $10 million, 10-year contract to become coach and general manager of the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association in 1973. He was highly dissatisfied with his and the team’s performance and resigned at the end of the 1973–74 season. Coming out of retirement once more, Plante played 31 games for the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA in the 1974–75 season. Plante retired during the Oilers’ training camp in 1975–76 after receiving news that his youngest son had committed suicide.

Plante had a well-earned reputation for his ability to analyse the game of hockey. He began shouting directions to his teammates during games in his first stint in the minor leagues (the goaltender usually has the best view of the game). He kept extensive notes on opposing players and teams throughout his career. He made his debut in the broadcasting booth during his first retirement in the 1960s as a colour commentator for broadcasts of Quebec Junior League games alongside Danny Gallivan of Hockey Night in Canada fame. Radio Canada, the French language branch of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, brought Plante aboard as on-air analyst for its television broadcasts of the 1972 Summit Series between the national team of the Soviet Union and a Canadian team made up of professional players from the NHL. Plante was one of the few North American analysts who dissented from the widely held belief in the superiority of the Canadian team.

Plante also wrote extensively on hockey. He wrote hockey columns starting early in his career and was published in La Voix de Shawinigan, Le Samedi, and Sport Magazine. He alienated local reporters by writing a column for the local paper during his time as coach of the Quebec Nordiques. His seminal work, Goaltending, was published in 1972 in English, with the French edition (entitled Devant le filet) published in 1973. In his book, Plante outlined a program of goaltender development that included off-ice exercises, choice of equipment, styles of play, and game-day preparation. He also advised on best coaching methods for both young and advanced goaltenders. His book remained popular with coaches and players and was reprinted in both French and English in 1997, 25 years after it was first published.

Starting in 1967, Plante was one of the instructors at École moderne de hockey, a summer hockey school for young players. His reputation as a teacher spread, and he traveled to Sweden in 1972 at the invitation of the Swedish Hockey Federation, teaching the top goaltenders in the country and their coaches and trainers. During his first and second retirements, Plante also coached goaltenders and consulted for several NHL teams, including the Oakland Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues.

Plante finally retired from hockey in 1975, after the death of his youngest son..He moved to Switzerland with his second wife, Raymonde Udrisard, but remained active on the North American hockey scene as an analyst, adviser and goaltender trainer. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978. In the fall of 1985, Plante was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. He died in a Geneva hospital in February 1986 at the age of 57 and was buried in Sierre, Switzerland. When his coffin was carried from the church following the funeral mass, it passed under an arch of hockey sticks held high by a team of young hockey players from Quebec, visiting Switzerland for a tournament.
Jacques Plante is a well researched book with utilitarian style writing, that is more than compensated by an extraordinary story to tell.

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 5, 2010

The Jew in American Sports

(Grant Shilling)

In this photo I hold the long out of print (1948), The Jew in American Sports, which profiles “Twenty eight of the greatest Jewish sports stars in America.” The book features a thoughtful introduction written by Barney Ross, former lightweight and welterweight champion (see link for great fight footage of Ross) of the world. In his introduction Ross expresses doubts and reservations about the need for the making of such a book. Barney feels that “singling out one particular group, social religious or even fraternal… seemed a chauvinistic indulgence.’ He concludes however “That the book is an important record of American athletes who had an even harder struggle than usual …because they were Jews.”

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