Good story on Glenn Hall
posted at 3/20/2011 12:45 PM EDT
Re: Good story on Glenn Hall
posted at 3/21/2011 8:33 PM EDTGreat stuff, thanks Stuke.
Re: Good story on Glenn Hall
posted at 3/21/2011 11:35 PM EDTIn Response to Good story on Glenn Hall:Spending the day with Mr. Goalie Zoom Bookmark Share Print Listen Translate Hall of Famer Glenn Hall reflects on the standout moments of a storied NHL career You’re looking for it as you pull up the winding driveway of Glenn Hall’s farm, and you expect it to be the size of its legend. Surely it’s an airplane hangar. But the red barn is a modest 60 by 40 feet — precisely 10 times the size of a hockey net — and is used today mostly for storage. SUppLiED: pAT hALL in his home in Stony Plain, hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall, a star with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and finally St. Louis Blues, poses with the mask he wore the final three seasons of his 18-year NHL career, which spanned from 1952-71. It was this barn — an iron-rendered farm scene bolted today on its white door — that Hall allegedly was painting in the autumn of 1965, for the first time late reporting for his Chicago Blackhawks training camp. He was contemplating retirement, apparently too busy with a brush to come to the phone to talk contract. Hockey royalty meets me at the door of his ranch-style house and offers a grip that’s as strong as the tools in the tack shed that hugs the barn. If Mr. Goalie thinks my shortness of breath is because of the rural winter cold, he’s quite mistaken. Funny that a man who pioneered the butterfly style of goalkeeping would live in a sprawling house. I’ve spoken many times with Glenn Hall for columns and features, always by phone, usually related to one of the many milestone games he played against the Montreal Canadiens. He’s not once been painting the barn when I called. The invitation has been repeated: “If you’re ever out my way … .” Finally last month I was, covering the Canadiens’ swing through Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Pat Hall, one of Glenn’s two sons, has told me he was sorry he’ll be on vacation in Hawaii with his wife, Debbie — sorry, as if — and would miss me. But he kindly has arranged for longtime friend Lonnie Demchuk to pick me up at the airport and run me out to the farm for a visit. Hall, 79, lives on this 155-acre spread alone, 18 months ago having lost Pauline, his wife of 55 years; her ashes are buried here beneath a tree that was planted last fall. But the family is large — four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren — and many live almost within the shadow of the land that now is rented out to a graingrowing farming friend. For the past 20 years, a rancher used the acreage to graze his cattle. You can understand the peace Hall found here during his off-seasons, an oasis far from the tortuous world of barefaced goaltending in a six-team era when the next deflection in the mouth could have you sucking your meals through a straw for a week. Bales of hay are in the yard, a few deer grazing in the deep snow. The tranquillity is deafening. There are no bold signs on the home’s main level that one of the top goaltenders — some would argue the best — to ever strap on pads has called this home for more than 45 years. And then Hall leads me downstairs, apologizing as we go, saying, “Pauline wouldn’t want you seeing this mess.” A mess? No. It’s a museum. There is history from one end of the basement to the other. Around billiard and shuffleboard tables are weathered pieces of flimsy equipment that Hall wore on his way to the Hall of Fame. Autographed goal sticks lean against a wall, signed in ballpoint by legends with whom Hall played in his 13 all-star games. “Pauline loved Jean Beliveau,” he says. “She’d stutter just when she mentioned his name.” The panelled walls are adorned with jerseys and ball caps and photos of the forgotten, the good and the great. A small trophy case holds souvenir pucks, plaques, awards and trophies, including his miniature 1961 Stanley Cup, and a trapper glove that he wore for years, having fashioned it out of a Stan Musial first-baseman’s mitt, modified with ridiculously little extra protection. Hall is making saves in most of the framed photos, to the chagrin of the photographers who took them: “They’d tell me, ‘That would have been a great picture if you had let it in,’ ” he says, chuckling. “I’m not too sorry I didn’t.” There’s an exception: Bobby Orr’s dramatic, Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal of May 10, 1970, the Bruins defenceman sailing through the air, then-St. Louis goalie Hall reaching overhead to the crossbar as he falls backward. “I remember thinking even before Bobby landed, ‘At least I’m out of that rotten equipment for a while,’ ” he says with a grin. Hall laughs, too, about his vintage hockeycard photos, in which he often looks like a few miles of tractor-beaten country road. “They’d shoot ’em at training camp, outdoors, after you’d spent a hot morning swimming in the rink, trying to stay alive, guys firing pucks at your head. They’d say, ‘C’mon, smile,’ and I’d say, ‘Smile? Are you (kidding) me?’ ” His favourite piece predates his 18-season NHL career. It’s the Red Tilson Trophy he won in junior with the Windsor Spitfires, named the Ontario Hockey League’s most valuable player in 1950-51. And then there’s his battered fibreglass mask, crudely moulded in the late 1960s by fellow goaler and then-Blues teammate Seth Martin, its eye holes cut large by Hall, to improve vision and ventilation. Inside it, he has certified in felt pen that it’s the only mask he ever wore in league play. Hall wore his mask the final three seasons of his 906-game NHL career, and there’s a strong Canadiens link to its debut with St. Louis against the Rangers in New York in November 1968. “I’d been thinking that, at my age, it would be stupid to lose an eye playing hockey,” said Hall, scars meandering like thin valleys on his face. “So Seth made it in the dressing room, plastered me up.” At teammate Red Berenson’s suggestion, Hall tugged it on for the Nov. 13 game at Madison Square Garden. Seventy-six seconds after the opening faceoff, the Rangers’ Vic Hadfield scored on a dipping shot that rang off the crossbar, fired from a sharply curved stick. Hall had been screened by an unlikely figure — referee Vern Buffey, who’d fallen in front of the goalie. Thirty-five seconds later, Buffey called the Blues’ Noel Picard for delay of game, and Hall lost it. “Vern gave Pic a cheap penalty,” he recalls. “And I don’t need a ref screening me. So I voiced an opinion about the way Vern skated and things didn’t turn out good. I said a little more and did a little more that wasn’t complimentary. “I can’t tell you what I said to Vern. Hell, yes I can. I told him, ‘You big bas(t)ard, get outta the way, you fell right in front of me.’ ” It was then, at 2:01 of the first period, that Hall stuck his Musial trapper in Buffey’s chest to earn the only game misconduct of his career. “Every time I wear a mask, I get thrown out,” he said later that night. In came 22-year-old Robbie Irons, the backup who’d not played an NHL minute. In the press box sat the Blues’ Jacques Plante, munching a hotdog. Blues defenceman Doug Harvey skated over to his coach, Scotty Bowman, and pleaded for Plante, saying that Irons would be slaughtered by the Rangers. “So what do I do?” Bowman asked, Irons already in the net. “Well, Irons could get hurt,” Harvey replied. “Leave it to me.” The call went up to Plante, who rushed downstairs and began dressing. Three minutes and not one shot later, Irons went down with a phantom injury and in came Plante, who blanked New York the rest of the way in the 3-1 St. Louis victory. He and Hall went on to share the Vezina Trophy that season, the Blues having allowed the NHL’s fewest goals. Plante is among the faces on the wall as we head back upstairs an hour later, Hall apologizing that he has two grandchildren to be picked up after school. But first he autographs what I take from my bag — a magnificent replica of his mask, produced by Lachine, Que.’s Marc Poulin. The perfect souvenir of an unforgettable visit now hangs on my office wall. As he signs the nose, Hall recalls a talk he once had with Johnny Bower, his good friend and fellow Saskatchewan native who goaled opposite him for Toronto in the NHL and in the minors before that. “I told John, ‘I think you lost seven teeth one night in the American League,’ ” he says, “and his wife, Nancy, piped up, ‘It was nine!’ “I told him, ‘Well, no wonder it took you so long to get back out there. But if there were nine teeth laying on the ice, John, I’m glad they were in your end.’
Posted by Stuke50
Thx Stukes! Awesome stuff. I think his 502 consective starts is a record that'll never be broken unless the goalie is a robot.