Mike Palmateer Interview

Mike Palmateer was the most entertaining goalie (apologies to Johnny Bower) to wear the blue and white.

Mike Palmateer was the most entertaining goalie (apologies to Johnny Bower) to wear the blue and white.

Mike Palmateer was the most acrobatic NHL goalie of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and to this day is still a favorite of Leafs fans. Mike was kind enough to talk to me during a rare day off from his current job of being an amateur scout for the Leafs. I caught up with him after his last fishing trip of the year so he was kind of sad about finally having to put his boat away for the winter. I started our conversation by telling him one my favorite memories, getting to meet him and Rick Vaive after a Leafs practice when I was 12 or 13 years old and then having lunch at the Hot Stove Lounge at the old Maple Leaf Gardens. To this day it’s one of the best days of my life. He actually had a similar memory of getting to go to the Hot Stove Lounge with his dad when he was a kid. When I told him about how he had come out of the locker room to meet me he asked if I was playing in goal back then. I told him I was and that I had first become a goalie at the age of four because I couldn’t skate so I thought I could hang onto the posts. That got a laugh out of him and the best thing overall about the interview is that he laughed a lot. He talked about how he became the Popcorn Kid, the ’78 Leafs, his somewhat-recurring role on a TV sitcom and how he ended up with the famous design on his mask.

TendersLounge: The first question actually comes from my dad: which rink had the best popcorn?”

Mike Palmateer: (laughing) Someone came to interview me in junior and saw me eating popcorn before a game. We used to get to the rink two hours early and would be kind of hungry and the only thing we could get at the concessions was popcorn. They weren’t even open yet but we’d knock on the back door and they’d give us some popcorn. So the reporter asked me if I ate popcorn before every game and I said ‘Not really’. But when the article came out the next day he called me The Popcorn Kid. The best popcorn was the London Gardens, but I didn’t really eat it every game. To be honest though most of the time when I go to games today I end up getting popcorn. But when I’m in Quebec I get a hot dog because they’re good.

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Welcome to Tenders Lounge… where goalies can hang out

Welcome to Tenders Lounge! The inspiration for Tenders Lounge came from a number of different people and ideas, including watching Ken Dryden’s jersey retirement ceremony last year. When I was a kid my dad got me and a friend into the Hot Stove Lounge in the old Maple Leaf Gardens one afternoon. I got to meet Mike Palmateer, and I remember watching him chat ‘off the record’ with the Leafs beat writers and the guys from Hockey Night in Canada. I was enthralled. Not only did I meet my favorite goalie at the time but I got behind the scenes of NHLers interacting with management and the press.

That memory has never left me and now as you read Tenders Lounge I guess you can think of it as the Hot Stove for Goalies. It’s a place for goalie interviews, profiles and stories. More precisely, it’s my attempt at extending the memory of that afternoon 30 years ago and letting the goalie community do the same.

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