Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first game played by the Montreal Canadiens, just one month after the 50th anniversary of Canadiens’ goalie Jacques Plante first wearing a goalie mask. I recently took a tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto where they had set up a beautiful tribute to the Habs’ centennial. My attention, of course, was centered on the goalies featured in the exhibit. In case you didn’t get a chance to visit the HHOF before the exhibit ended you can at least view the important parts here.
What a great way to enter the Habs Centennial exhibit! If you watched the Habs during the 1970's the only image more lasting than Ken Drydens's famous pose is that of the Cup being lifted again and again. And then again and again and again and again. What's the opening bid for this statue when the exhibit ends?
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
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.
Gary Bettman has decreed that goalie equipment is (still) too big. Bettman has become a whipping boy for fans in every city (have you ever seen him cheered when he comes out to present the Stanley Cup?) and even though I strongly disagree with his insistence that home teams wear road jerseys I do agree with him on goalie equipment. I suppose I should automatically disagree because I’m a goalie but he’s right.
Take a look at Henrik Lunqvist’s pads… they’re so big they’re protecting each other! I’m 6′ tall and wear 34″ pads so how does a 6’1″ keeper need 38″ pads? Yes, players today shoot exponentially harder than they did just 20 years ago when everyone was using a wooden shaft. The increased velocity of shots today is similar to the increased velocity of tennis serves when comparing wooden racquets to today’s composite ones. So today’s NHL goalies need better protection than ever before. But “better” is not the same as “more”.
ESPN’s John Buccigross has campaigned for larger nets in order to increase scoring. There’s not a goalie in the world who will support that idea… from the looks of this protype I forsee a lot of shots at my head! Not to mention where I’ll put my water bottle. So the onus will be on the Goalie’s Union to support smaller equipment as its contribution to increased scoring. There’s no reason for equipment to make a save, it should just protect the body part that is making the save.
The events that triggered the idea about a site specifically for goalies was the retirement of Ken Dryden’s jersey in Montreal last year. I watched the Leafs every Saturday night growing up in the late 70’s so Mike Palmateer was my favorite goalie but Ken Dryden was my hero.
As I watched the jersey ceremony last year in Montreal I was reminded of everything about him that inspired me to be a better goalie, a better student and more conscious of the world outside of hockey. And it struck me that not only were millions of people watching this ceremony and recalling their favorite memory of watching Dryden play, but there had to be a handful of goalies my age who had not only tried to rest their chin on the butt end of their stick á la Dryden but had also been inspired by him to further the social and academic interests in their life.
There was a community of goalies out there, young and old, active and retired, boys and girls who shared a passion for everything goaltender-related. Ideas about this community stewed in my head for about a year before Tenders Lounge was born. Even though Dryden’s ceremony is well past its news expiration date I still feel compelled to share what went through my mind watching my TV that night. I hope some of these feelings strike a chord with you. Continue reading