Bernie Parent Interview

Bernie Parent ruled the goalie world in '74 and '75

Bernie Parent ruled the goalie world in '74 and '75

Bernie Parent was one of the best goalies in the NHL during the 1970’s.  In ’74 and ’75 he was quite simpley the best goalie in the world, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to consecutive Stanley Cups and winning consecutive Conn Smythe trophies in the process.  As they said in Philly at the time, “only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent”.  Parent took the time to talk with TendersLounge about the changing world of pro hockey during the era of expansion and the WHA, playing alongside his childhood hero, Jacques Plante, and how he’s keeping busy today.  What struck me most about the conversation was Parent’s incredibly positive attitude towards life and everything it has to offer.  Here’s a guy whose career was ended by an errant stick hitting his eye, who nobody would question for harboring bitterness toward how his hockey career ended, but Parent genuinely seems to be happy with all the experiences in his life.

Parent veered from his conservative style when he joined the upstart WHA

Parent veered from his conservative style when he joined the upstart WHA

TendersLounge: Welcome to the TendersLounge Bernie! The first question comes from my dad who used to love watching you play and has shared his stories with me. After wearing such a colorful mask in the WHA, how did you end up in a plain white mask with the Flyers?

Bernie Parent: Good question. Next question! Just kidding. Someone suggested I wear the flaming mask for the Blazers in the World league, so I thought that was appropriate because it was a new league. When I got back to the NHL I went back to the original Parent look which is a conservative look with just the Flyers logo.

TL: It certainly seems to have been a good choice since it ended up on the cover of Time magazine!

Imagine a housewife in Alabama opening her mailbox to find this image staring back at her!

Imagine a housewife in mid-70's Alabama opening her mailbox to find this image staring back at her!

BP: Yeah, that was very special. As a matter of fact Time spent a couple weeks with the team. When I look back there were so many things happening in my life but I’m very grateful to be on the cover of a magazine like that.

TL: Can you talk a little bit about what the hockey world was like when you turned pro? There was a lot changing with the expansion of the NHL and the introduction of the WHA.

BP: When I first started in ’65 we only had the six original teams and we had the expansion in ’67 and the Flyers were born. At the time it was tough to go from an original team to an expansion team but when I look back today it turned out good since we won the Stanley Cup seven years later. When I look back today expansion was good because at the time we only had 120 players in the league, so the expansion allowed a lot more players to be in the NHL.

TL: It seems the players in the NHL today should have a debt of gratitude to the guys of your era who really kick-started the increase in the number of jobs.

BP: Well, that’s very kind, thanks. There’s a lot to learn from this. If you believe in yourself and take chances in life you’ll have good results and those were chances we took and today guys sure have benefitted from it financially.

Parent shared duties with Jacques Plante, his childhood idol, during his short time in a Maple Leafs jersey.

Parent shared duties with Jacques Plante, his childhood idol, during his short time in a Maple Leafs jersey. That mask looks familiar!

TL: What was it like for you to play alongside Jacques Plante for those two years with the Maple Leafs?

BP: First of all I grew up in Montreal watching him and of course he was my idol and I always looked up to him and tried to be as good as him and when I got traded from the Flyers to Toronto I was disappointed but little did I know I was going to play two years with my idol. It allowed me to become a better goalie, that’s for sure!

TL: I’ve read a lot about Plante being a very private and almost cold type of guy but it seems like his relationship with you was different from what other people experienced.

BP: Yeah, but you know what, I think both of us had something to learn from the other guy. I took some of his disciplined lifestyle and applied it to mine and both of us benefited from it.

TL: It sounds like you hooked up with him at the right point in his career where he could mentor someone and at the right point in your career where you could develop your skills.

BP: Exactly. That’s the beautiful thing about life. When you believe in yourself all kinds of good things will happen to you.

TL: Can you tell us about how you lost your mask during that game in Madison Square Garden?

BP: That was during the playoffs against the Rangers with about five minutes left in the game. In those days when there was a brawl everybody jumped on the ice. Giamcomin was in goal for the Rangers and the goalie union dictated we pair off so we did and nothing really came from it. But throughout the fight Hatfield was getting really upset about something and out of nowhere grabbed my mask and threw it in the stands and that was it, it was gone!

TL: And you never got it back, correct?

BP: No, never got it back. But the beautiful part of the story is the next day we were back in Toronto and somebody knocked at the door. It was a father with his son, about 10 years old, and he was a goalie and saw me lose my mask. So he came over with his mask and said “Bernie, if you need this you’re more than welcome to use my mask”. I didn’t take his mask but we got him and his dad tickets for the next game.

TL: Did you take any flack from the media or any other players when you jumped to the WHA?

BP: Not really, because most folks realized this was an opportunity and guys had to take it. As far as getting criticism, there wasn’t much. A lot of question marks, but not much critiscism.

TL: It seems like you and Doug Favell were linked together in many ways early in your career. Was it a friendly rivalry or was it even a rivalry at all between you two?

Doug Favell and Parent played junior hockey together in Niagara Falls and then went together to the Bruins system.  Both were picked up by the Flyers in the 1967 expansion draft and shared the net until Parent was traded to the Leafs. Two years later Parent was traded back to the Leafs for Favell. Favell retired from hockey the same year Parent suffered his career-ending eye injury. Looking at this photo you can see how an errant stick could reach a goalie's eye.

Doug Favell and Parent played junior hockey together in Niagara Falls and then went together to the Bruins system. Both were picked up by the Flyers in the 1967 expansion draft and shared the crease until Parent was traded to the Leafs. Two years later Parent was traded back to the Flyers for Favell. Doug Favell retired from hockey the same year Parent suffered his career-ending eye injury. Looking at this photo you can see how an errant stick could reach a goalie's eye.

BP: There’s always a rivalry with other goalies, but Favell was in Niagara Falls with me and we were the same age so we became very, very close friends.

TL: This is a question from InGoal Magazine… which goalies from your era do you think didn’t receive the credit they perhaps should have?

BP: Me! Just kidding. I don’t know if there was anyone who fit that description then. There was a good group of goalies then… Esposito, Dryden, Giacomin, Cheevers so I don’t think there was anyone who fit that description.

I thought Parent might have mentioned Rogie Vachon as one of the underated goalies of the '70s.  He spent the decade stuck on subpar teams in LA but was the MVP in the '76 Canada Cup after Parent could not play for Canada due to an injury the previous season.

I thought Parent might have mentioned Rogie Vachon as one of the underated goalies of the '70s. He spent most of the decade stuck on subpar teams in LA but was the MVP in the '76 Canada Cup after Parent could not play for Canada due to an injury the previous season.

TL: You mentioned the goalies union concept of paring off with Giacomin in the fight just because you were supposed to. Did you feel like you were part of the Broad Street Bullies aspect of the Flyers or did you separate yourself from that and just focus on stopping pucks?

BP: You have to look at it two ways, the team and the individual aspect. I had to concentrate on my system and what I was doing but at the same time you’re a part of the team and we were the Broad Street Bullies. We had a good team, three future Hall of Famers, but we also had a rough team. They did what they had to do and I did what I had to do. We had a tough reputation but we were a pretty good team.

TL: I’ve seen the reaction of Flyers’ fans to Kate Smith singing the national anthem at your games… was that something that got the players more pumped up or was it just built up by the fans and the media?

BP: It was the real McCoy. I’ll never forget the feeling when she would come on and sing… the crowd would go crazy and we played off that. I’ve said before that the fans in Philly were very, very passionate and were a big part of our success. They gave us a big advantage.

TL: It’s often been said that records are made to be broken but do you think your record of most wins in a season would have ever been broken without the introduction of overtime and the shootout in regular season games?

BP: It’s just one of those things that happen. I was very proud of that record. I had it for about 30 years I think. It was nice to have but having said that it couldn’t have been broken by a much better guy than Brodeur. He’s a true champion.

TL: What got you to start www.BernieParent.net?

bernie-parent-website

BP: It was the French in me! My business advisor, Dean Smith, is a creative guy and he suggested we get on the internet.

TL: What are your goals for the site in the future?

BP: I just want to stay in touch with fans and let them know what I’m doing. We’re going to be updating my local and national appearances. There are going to be some exclusive items like shirts and photos that you won’t be able to get anywhere else.

This t-shirt is NOT licensed by Parent; it's a theft of his likeness.  TendersLounge will let its readers know when Parent's official t-shirts are available and how to get one.

This t-shirt image is NOT licensed by Parent; it's a theft of his likeness. TendersLounge will let its readers know when Parent's official t-shirts are available and how to get one.

TL: What else is keeping you busy these days?

BP: I do some public speaking to try to help people reach their ultimate goal. But also my career ended when I got hit in the eye with a hockey stick so I’m involved with an at-work safety program. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in life, if you get injured because of a lack of preparation or using the wrong equipment you might find a different lot in life.

TL: Last question Bernie, the Flyers are wearing their 1970’s jerseys as their 3rd jersey. .. should they just ditch the black jerseys for good and go back to wearing orange?

BP: Well that’s a marketing question for the Flyers. They do a great job there and they know what they’re doing, but I sure like them.

Martin Biron sporting the Flyers' 3rd jersey earlier this season, a replica of the orange worn by Parent in the '70s.

Martin Biron sporting the Flyers' 3rd jersey earlier this season, a replica of the orange worn by Parent in the '70s.

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8 Comments

  1. great stuff TL. What was the big deal with kate smith?!

  2. […] Bernie Parent Interview « Tenders Lounge Life Without Brodeur | For the public, by The Public Price, Pogge Problems Plaguing Puckstopper Toskala THE GREAT GOALTENDER DEBATE, PART II: Looking around the league… … LCS Hockey: Born Again – Tim Thomas Conference Call […]

  3. Singer Kate Smith is considered the Flyers’ good luck charm. They started playing a recorded version of her rendition of ‘God Bless America’ and eventually brought her in to sing live before important games. Even today the Flyers play video recordings of her before important games, including last year’s game 4 against the Penguins in the Conference Final (Flyers won that game). Not sure of the exact number but I think the Flyers win 80% of their games when she sings America’s second anthem. The Flyers even erected a statue of her outside their arena.

  4. Not a theft. A hommage to ALL the goaltenders who played in the era of heart and soul hockey.

  5. I agree it’s an homage to an era of goalie that no longer exists, but it’s clearly Bernie’s likeness and the simple truth is it’s illegal to use someone’s likeness for profit without their permission. Some additional edits to the image would have delivered the same homage but left the identity of the goalie in question. That said, I would encourage Bernie to make his t-shirts available for sale on his own site sooner rather than later.

  6. they are available no through his site

  7. More than Vachon, I thought Gilles Meloche was the best goaltender that nobody ever heard of during the 70s. He labored with the Seals/Barons and Pens behind some very leaky D.

  8. 100% agree. At least Roberto Luongo got credit for his play when he toiled with the Islanders and Panthers. Meloche was far better than his record indicated.


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