Tuesday

"Mr. Goalie" Glenn Hall

Hockey players, especially goaltenders, have pre-game rituals. Some are more unusual than others. But no one had a stranger ritual than former NHL goaltending great Glenn Hall who, because of nerves, would literally become physically ill while waiting the start of a game.

More often than not, before the first face-off, during the rest periods or after the game was concluded, Glenn quietly and unobtrusively would throw up .

"I always felt I played better if I was physically sick before the game. If I wasn't sick, I felt I hadn't done everything I could to try to win," Hall once said.

It obviously worked for Hall, as the man nicknamed "Mr. Goalie" has to be considered a prime candidate as the greatest goalie ever played.

Glenn Hall is also renowned as the grandfather of the butterfly goalie. He was the first goalie to practice and perfect the now common butterfly stance, as he'd fall on knees, spread his legs to take away the bottom corners and five-hole and let his rapier-like arm reflexes take care of the top corners. Glenn would meet the shot with his feet wide but his knees close together to form an inverted Y. Instead of throwing his whole body to the ice in crises, he would go down momentarily to his knees, then bounce back to his feet, able to go in any direction. Practically every goalie in hockey today relies on the strategies he perfected.

During his 18-year NHL career, which began in 1952 and ended in 1971, Glenn posted a 407-327-163 record, 2.51 goals-against-average and recorded 84 shutouts. He was a First Team All-Star seven times, won three Vezina Trophies, was voted the league's top rookie in 1955-56 and was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy in a losing cause in 1968. Despite his lengthy career, Glenn won his only Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 1961—the last time Chicago captured the title.

Hall actually started his career buried in the Detroit Red Wings system in the early 1950s. With the great Terry Sawchuk established as the number one goalie, it seemed as though Hall would have to wait forever for his turn to get a chance at full-time play in the league. But Hall kept the pressure on Sawchuk, eventually leading to the surprising Sawchuk trade to the Boston Bruins in 1955. Hall took to the Red Wings crease, and turned in a memorable rookie season, coming within one shutout of Harry Lumley's modern record of 13 set two seasons previously. He allowed only 2.11 goals against as he played in each and every game and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

Hall played one one more season with Detroit, before yet another shocking trade involving a Red Wings goalie. This time Hall was packaged up in the infamous Ted Lindsay trade to the Chicago Blackhawks.

It was in Chicago that Hall is best remembered. Hall was a huge part of the Blackhawks turnaround, backstopping them to the Stanley Cup championship in 1961. The Hawks became the toast of Chicago for much of the 1960s, selling out every ticket for 14 seasons. With the likes Pierre Pilote, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, the Hawks were hot. But it was Hall who was synonymous with the Hawks, playing seemingly every game. In fact, despite his taxing pre-game ritual, Glenn holds the NHL record for most consecutive complete games, 502, by a goaltender. That's 502 straight contests without missing a minute of play. Not one single minute over the span of 8 seasons. That is one record that is certain never to be broken. Even more amazing is he accomplished this feat while playing without a mask.

At the age of 36, he was left unprotected in the 1967 Expansion Draft and was chosen by the newly minted St. Louis Blues. Due in large part to Hall's improbable heroics, the Blues marched all the way to the Stanley Cup final in their first year in the league. Though they would eventually lose to the Montreal Canadiens in four games, Hall was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's top playoff performer. In 1968-69, Jacques Plante joined the team and the two veterans shared the goaltending duties, and split the Vezina Trophy. The duo returned the Blues to the Stanley Cup finals in both 1969 and 1970, only to lose again.

Hall retired in 1971, returning to Alberta to tend to his farm, while working with the Blues and later Calgary Flames as a goaltending coach and consultant.

8 comments:

Laser Hair Removal In Chicago 8:04 PM  

The author is basically a fan of Hall rather than a bitter journalist and because of this he gets it right. I was most interested in Hall's days sharing the nets with Jacques Plante in St. Louis and it shows how Hall basically helped turn St. Louis into the NHL's best new market back in 1967. Hall also comes across as no dummy and a very honorable teammate and man.

It's really great that when his story was told, it was told by someone who understands that Hall not Sawchuk, Roy, Plante, Hasek or Tretiak is hockey's greatest goalie.

The only points he missed were no action shots inside showing Hall's famous V, or butterfly, style that truly revolutionized goaltending (sorry, Patrick Roy, but it wasn't you) and he kept calling his "glovehand" his "catch glove" which I have never heard in all the years I've played or watched hockey.

Greg g,  8:55 AM  

Well, when you consider what it takes to play 502 games, consecutively, in the old school six team NHL without a mask pretty much tells the type of man Mr. Goalie was! I truly believe Glenn Hall is one of the best goaltenders in the history of the NHL.

rex 1:44 PM  

One comment needs to be made: in the first few playoffs after the 1967 expansion, the best expansion team automatically got to play in the finals. So there were 6 "original" teams of which the best got into the finals and 6 "expansion teams" - in other words, St. Louis did not have to beat all the toughest teams in the playoffs, only the other expansion teams.

Still, Glenn Hall clearly is a legend. I just want to state this one fact straight, not to dis "mr. goalie".

Anonymous,  1:34 AM  

as of 1971 did or did not hall have more playoff than any other hockey player? RSVP jjrjr3@hotmail.com

John 10:05 PM  

To Rex--It is indeed true that the top Western Devision team got into the finals. That was because Clarence Cambel (SP?) the comm. of the NHL wanted it that way.
The Blues had to beat both the Flyers and the old Minnesota North Stars in very exciting 7 games series to get to the finals. The 7th game against Minnesota went into a 3rd. overtime. The author of this peace got the Mr. Goalie right.

It should be added, that the reason that Detroit traded Glenn to the Black Hawks was because he lost a playoff series to the the Boston Bruins in his second year with Detroit. Glenn was hit in the face with a deflected shot. He had to leave the ice, received 26 stitches or so and then returned to the game.

The Red Wings felt that Glenn had lost his nerve, and dealt him away. If after being hit in the face with a flying hockey puck, and you can still finish the game--perhaps you will never lose your nerve.

As an aside; when Jacques Plante joined Glenn in St. Louis, Jacques finally got Glenn to wear a mask! What is also amusing is that as Glenn's innovation was the inverted "V" style, Plante also was quite an innovator. He was the 1st. goaltender to wear a mask in the NHL. He was also the first goalie to "roam" away from the goal crease.
I can tell you personally that it was quite a treat to see them perform for the Blues.

Anonymous,  6:57 PM  

I disagree with John. Glenn Hall was wearing a mask when he lost to Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Anonymous,  9:06 PM  

@ Anonymous...Glenn did not wear a mask in the '68 final vs Montreal. The following season Jacques came to St Louis and that's when Hall donned the mask...Also when Plante arrived he tried to play using the butter fly style, but Glenn urged him to stay with his traditional stand up style because it was be easier on the boday...both were aging and the demands of the butterfly did take it's toll on the body...

JOE T,  5:42 PM  

ON MAY 10, 1970 THE BOSTON BRUINS BEAT THE ST. LOUIS BLUES IN OVERTIME IN GAME FOUR OF THE STANLEY CUP FINALS, SWEEPING THE BLUES AND WINNING THE CUP. THERE IS THE FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPH OF THE GREAT BOBBY ORR'S FLYING THRU THE AIR AS HE SCORES THE STANLEY CUP CLINCHING GOAL AT 40 SECONDS OF THE FIRST OVERTIME. WHAT IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED IS THAT THE GREAT GLENN HALL PLAYED ONE OF THE GREATEST PLAYOFF GAMES BY A GOALTENDER EVER. THE BRUINS THREW EVERYTHING AT HIM DURING THE SIXTY MINUTES OF REGULATION AND ONLY MR. HALL'S PHENOMENAL GOALTENDING FORCED THE GAME INTO OVERTIME. AS A BRUINS FAN, I NEVER TIRE OF VIEWING THE PHOTOGRAPH OF MR. ORR'S CUP CLINCHING GOAL, BUT I ALSO REMEMBER THAT THE GOALIE WHOM BOBBY ORR SCORED ON IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, GLENN HALL, PLAYED A GREAT GAME THAT FORCED THE OVERTIME.

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