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.