How They Started
Eddie started playing goal at the age of 12 simply because no one else would. He was cut from the team three years in a row during High School, and took up basketball instead. When he fouled out of every game, he returned to hockey. Though he continued playing, he was never drafted.
Mike began at 8 years
old. He tried Little League for two years, but it wasn't fast
enough. He went out for a Squirt hockey team with boys two years older
than him, and made it, but their team had no goalie.
"Since I was the youngest guy, they asked me if I'd play, and I said I'd give it a try, and here I am . . . still trying."
Dominik started at the age
of 6. He couldn't afford skates, so he did what any inventive,
hockey-crazy boy would do--he screwed blades to the soles of his shoes. A
group of 9-year-olds were trying out, but they didn't have a goalie. Hasek
volunteered, and got the job. He always loved practicing stopping
breakaways. After practice, he would beg his teammates to stay and try to
score on him in 10 chances. If they scored even one, he'd challenge them
again--and again--and again. He has always been a student of the
game. He would watch older kids play, noticing what worked and what
didn't. Then he'd try it himself.
Eventually he was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 11th round, and he didn't even know about it until an acquaintance told him about it a few months later.
Joseph's mother, Jeanne, worried that he would be hurt if he tried ice hockey. But when his married sister, 22 years older than him, suddenly moved, she had to yank her step-son from his nearby league. Rather than waste the money paid, she asked their mother if Curtis could take the spot. Jeanne reluctantly allowed Curtis to go to the try-out--but only the try-out. So he went . . . after fifteen minutes of shooting on him, no one could score--but he needed help getting up because he couldn't stand in his skates! The coach had a high opinion of him. "If this kid learns to skate, he's NHL material." Joseph ended up joining the team, and moved up through the ranks. He played Tier Two for two years, but was never scouted. He reached his last year of eligibility for junior, and it looked like the end of the road for him when the neighborhood grocer, Paul Sanders, called Notre Dame College, and Joseph was accepted. "I honestly believe that if it wasn't for Notre Dame, he would be installing swimming pools in Newmarket for $10 an hour," he said later. Joseph was approached by two colleges after playing two periods of his first exhibition game, and a star was unveiled.
Olaf began as a forward/defenseman. But, when the goalie failed to show up for one of his minor-league teams, he volunteered. They won that game, Kolzig was the hero, and he was hooked. That single incident launched his career. A little known fact about Olaf is that, though he was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he is German by parentage.
At ten years old, Chris wanted to be a goalie because he liked being the hero. He loved the rush he had when he stopped a shot, and he liked to lead his team onto the ice. Reluctantly, his father John shelled out $1000 for equipment. Shortly thereafter, Chris was injured for a short time, and when he returned, he wanted to play forward instead. His dad was not laughing. "I just said, 'Over my dead body,'" recalls John Osgood. "I just spent $1000 on you. You're playing goalie." But despite that, Chris skated as a forward the next game and scored 7 goals. With that out of his system, however, he returned to the superior position of goaltender.
The first time he signed up for hockey with his brother and mom: "I said to my mother, 'I want to be a goaltender.' So my mother says to the person, 'I have two boys who want to play hockey but Patrick absolutely wants to be a goaltender.'" He played street hockey in goal, because he was the smallest. Indoors, he played with pillows on his legs.
He first played at age 7 when his team's goalie went out of town for a game. The goalie probably never got his position back when he returned.
At the age of 7 John begged his parents to let him play goalie. It ran in the family, though. His older brother, Frank, was also a goalie and John learned by watching him and his friends. He has never attended a goalie camp in his life.
"The year I was drafted I was still playing junior in Calgary. I just finished dinner one night when there was a knock on the door. I opened it, and there was a little girl standing there. She said, 'They're looking for you at the Corral.' Then she ran away. I'm wondering what that was all about and then the phone rings. It was Al Coates, the Flames' assistant G.M., calling to tell me they needed me as back-up because one of their goalies had gone down i the warm-up. The Flames were playing at the Corral in those days and the game was on TV. When the show started [broadcaster] Ed Whalen had put out a call for me to go to the Corral but I didn't have the TV on.
"It happened again that season. I think the second time it was on Hockey Night in Canada. I was watching and they came on and said, 'Mike Vernon, if you're watching please call the Flames' office.' So I did and it was the same story, they needed me to back-up" - MIKE VERNON, Florida Panthers
From a 1937 Toronto Maple Leafs program: excerpt from George Fairfield's poem, "Tall Tales from the Dressing Room."
"Turk Broda grinned, unfixed a pad and kicked it from his leg,
Then talked about a shot he stopped in Winnepeg:
"That shot," said he, "was moving! I can almost feel it yet;
For it bent me in the middle and it hurled me through the net,
Through the back-boards and the people; and I scrambled to my feet
To discover I was standing on the sidewalk in the street!
But I sold the puck to someone (that was very clever don't you think?)
For a dime to buy a ticket to get back inside the rink!"
Guy Hebert recently taped a promo for ESPN, at the Ducks' training facilities. He discussed how luck had nothing to do with how well he played, and his successes. As he skated away from the crease, a 5, 000-pound anvil dropped to the ice. "Very funny, guys," Hebert quipped.
Nevin had played with the L. A. Kings for
about a week. They were duking it out with the Maple Leafs, but getting
whipped. After giving up thirty shots in the second, Nevin spoke to the
team in the locker room.
"You know, guys, I'm pretty new on this team and I can see where your strategy is pretty good. I like the way we're staying out of the other end of the rink so the fog can build up around their net. Maybe in the next period we should try shooting some long ones through the fog. We might catch their goalie off guard."
Late in the game, Bruins at the Kings, the play ended in front of Kings' goalie Gary Edwards. Phil Esposito looked at L. A. defenseman Terry Harper, then took his stick in his hands like he was going to cross-check him and said, "Here, you might as well take the **** thing because you've been hanging onto it all night." Harper just looked at him and said, "Thanks, Phil. But I don't want it because you haven't autographed it for me."
Toronto goalie Rick Wamsley was injured in a goalmouth scramble, and the team's trainers were attending to previously injured players in the dressing room so the coach sent equipment manager Eddie Palchak to go see what was wrong with Rick. When Palchak arrived, Wamsley looked up from the ice and said, "Eddie, what are you doing here? I don't need a new stick, I need a doctor."
Rick Wamsley - "We played in Montreal and I guess I was feeling my oats because I had wandered out of my net quite a bit, into the corners, living dangerously and all that. After the game Toe Blake came into our dressing room. He was such a presence when he showed up, that old tradition thing again. He came up to me and said, 'Do you mind if I ask you a question?' I said, 'Of course not, Mr. Blake.' Then he said, 'What I want to know is, when you're in the corner with the puck, who's playing goal?' I got the message."
Bob Froese - "I had more fun playing for the Rangers than anywhere else. The first year I was there we were playing the Flyers (Froese's former team) in the playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Lindsay Carson had run me into the net and I knew that was a Flyers ploy. He had knocked my stick away and I was skating to the bench for an extra attacker and I saw Linday. I was gonna say to him, 'Sucked in, eh, Lindsay?' and I guess he thought I was gonna jump on his back. So he turned around and swung. He missed me but I went into a dive. It's been on a few blooper tapes. I get to the bench and Phil Esposito, who is coaching us, is yelling, 'Nobody laugh! Nobody laugh!' Wayne Cashman was the assistant coach and he said to me, 'Why don't you go down one more time.' So I dropped again, just for effect. Then I sat on the end of the bench and our trainer, who was a little guy, is pretending he's giving me smelling salts. We were always kidding around, so as he's doing this he's asking me if I liked him and would I like to marry him. So I lifted up my mask, grabbed him, and kissed him on the lips. He went ballistic and was screaming about how everyone was going to think this and that about him and the whole bench was howling."
John "Cheech" Garrett - "I'm playing for Hartford (Whalers) and we're in Chicago and they score on me in overtime. In the old Chicago Stadium at the end I was in you just went out the door behind the goal and down the stairs to the dressing room. The puck goes by me and I'm mad and I just want to get out of there. I spun around and started banging on the door for the guy to open it. It must have been stuck because he worked at it for a bit and then it opens. I'm really pissed off so I charge through the door, miss the first step and down I go. I'm sliding all the way down the thirteen or nineteen steps, or whatever it was, and end up lying at the bottom of the stairs. And I just started to laugh. The rest of the team starts coming down and they all have sad faces because we've just lost and I'm on the floor killing myself laughing."
Told by John Davidson - "One night we lost to Pittsburch at home, 6-2. Dunc (Wilson) was in goal and the fans were really giving it to him, calling him names and booing the **** out of him. After the sixth goal they're really letting him have it so he skates out about fifteen feet in front of the net, drops his stick, takes off his gloves, and very slowly starts to roll up his right sleeve. Then he takes his right arm, holds it up, sticks the middle finger up, and does a 360-degree pirouette giving everyone in Madison Square Garden the finger. It was hilarious."
Greg Millen - "One night after Rick (Wamsley) got pulled (Ron) Caron (G.M. of the Blues) was so mad he ripped the phone off the wall in the press box and left a big hole in the drywall. After that any time one of us got pulled or had a bad game, we said that he won the AT&T award."
Bernie Wolfe - "Yvon (Lebre, teammate) and (Coach) Tommy (McVie) . . . kept telling me I should be moving guys from the front of our net. I said, okay, I'll try my best. So one night we're playing Minnesota and Dennis Hextall is standing in front and Yvon is trying to push him out of the way. He wasn't having much luck so I figured it was my opportunity to get tough. I take my stick and I two-hand Hextall right across the ankle and he doesn't move. He doesn't budge, doesn't blink, doesn't even get mad. Yvon is looking at me, so right away I start explaining that I hit Hextall as hard as I could. Yvon said, "I'm proud of you for trying, but you missed him and you hit me." I almost broke his ankle and he missed two games after that. That was the last time I ever swung my stick at anybody."
Ron Hextall on his days as a junior - "One time we played the Prince Albert Raiders in Prince Albert, and I had over a hundred shots. They scored 21. I let in three goals in the first, I let in six in the second, and I let in twelve in the third. In the third period I couldn't even get up. Literally, I would go down on the ice and I was so tired I coldn't get up. They picked me as first star. Something was wrong there: 21 goals against and you're the first star. [Laughs]."
Patrick Roy on his days as a junior - " . . . I went in and had 82 shots . . . in the second period we played 3 against 5 for most of the time and they had 30 shots on me. I can't remember how many goals they scored but near the end of the game a guy had a breakaway and I made the save. I threw the puck back at him and said, "Take another shot," and he did. I can't remember the guy's name but he went back to the bench and said to Pat Burns, who was coaching their team, "That goalie's crazy! He just threw the puck at me and told me to take another shot."
Craig Billington - "I remember one time in Pittsburgh, they were all over us. It had to be 6-1 or 7-1, something like that. It was late in the game--I'm talking the last minute of play--and I freeze the puck at the side of the net and here are Stevens and Jagr, poking away at it like crazy. I calmly look up at them and I say, "Do you guys really need any more? Because if you do I'll save you a lot of trouble and put it in myself." They started laughing and the ref started laughing. I just remember their expressions because they were so intense. We just wanted the game to end and they were so determined to score another goal."
- "It was funny. I was so bad in English and after the games in New
York (1986 playoffs against the Rangers) all the guys are coming to
interview me. Gaetan Lefebvre (the Canadiens' athletic trainer) was
always beside me and helped with the questions I didn't understand. I
didn't want to say any stupid things. So he was there translating for me
and they asked me, 'Why did you turn around and stare at your net after the
national anthem?' I said, 'I was talking to my goal posts.' They
made a big thing about that and it was so funny, especially in New York where
they like things like that.
"I'm not really talking to my goal posts, you know. I just turn around and look at the net. I like the vision of seeing the net getting smaller. It gives me confidence, makes me feel bigger. For goaltenders everything is playing between your ears. If you can believe it, you can do it. If you're not confident when you start, it makes a difference. It started in Hartford where we have to turn around and face the flags. I turned around and I started to look at the net and say, hey."
(Hmm, Pat. I seem to recall you saying that you really do talk to your posts. So which is it?)
Patrick Roy, about being caught winking at Tomas Sandstrom of the Kings after stopping his shot - "I didn't know the cameras were on me when I did that wink. I was surprised the day after when I heard about that. They made a big thing out of it. I was just in the zone at that moment. I felt really solid and confident. I knew Sandstrom was a guy who could score goals for that team. When I made that save I saw him turn around and come back in front of me. I couldn't resist showing him how confident I was. Maybe I was cocky but you get kind of cocky when you feel that confident. I wanted to show him it was gonna be tough for him to score on me."
- "We were playing in Dallas and losing 3-2 with about three minutes to
go. Mike Keenan was pacing back and forth behind the bench questioning
whether guys wanted to play or had the desire to play. We were shorthanded
and he said to the team he was going to put someone on the ice who wanted to
play. I'm thinking to myself, 'I wonder who that could be?' and then he
says, 'Healy, get out there.' I'm surprised but that sort of thing had
happened before with Keenan. So I jump on the ice as quick as I can,
forgetting that I've still got my skateguards on. I'm trying to stand up
but I keep falling down. The crowd sees this and they're into it and I'm
still trying to stand up with my skateguards on. Finally, after I'm on my
knees for the third time, I chucked them off and said to Mike, 'Okay, I'm ready
to play." By then he's probably wondering why he told me to go in in
the first place."
(Nice story, Glenn. Maybe it even beats mine--after my first shutout, I fell flat on my face in the door of our locker room! I've also fallen out the door of our bench, going in to play for another goalie.)
Felix Potvin - "It was after my first year of junior and everybody said I was going to be drafted, even though I was only 18. So I went to Minnesota and sat there and I didn't get drafted. I didn't have to sit all day because my name was only up for the first three rounds but they were pretty long rounds. At least, it seemed that way for me by the time they ended. That was a terrible feeling, the worst feeling. After that I said I didn't care who picks me next time just as long as I get picked."
- '93-'94, first round playoffs, game six: Devils versus Sabres; it lasted into
fourth overtime until Dave Hannan scored on Brodeur.
"The long game? I'm still tired. [Laughs] Bernie Nichols kept telling me in the playoffs, 'If you shut them out, kid, we'll win the game.' Well, that night I did two shutouts, and we never won the game. The toughest part of the experience wasn't physical, it was mental. you go into the second overtime, the third, the fourth, and the teams have chances, but, really, not too many good shots on the net. The ice is brutal, everyone's tired. They just want to get a shot and go for a line change. They tell you to stay calm, to stay focused. But that night we jumped on the ice to warm-up at quarter to 7 and we left the building at 2 o'clock in the morning. That's a long time to stay focused.
"When the goal went in, well, I didn't have what some people call an emotional letdown. It was kind of a relief. Okay, you got scored on, but this one's over and we've got to go back and play them again. And Hasek was unbelievable for them. He had 70 shots. You wish the goal is gonna be for your side. But it wasn't and then we had to think about starting again the next day."
Told by Dick Irvin - "Then there was Al Smith, a much travelled and colorful goalie who at one time was the back-up for the Buffalo Sabres. When the Sabres' regular goalie was injured, Smith became upset when the team brought in a minor-leaguer to start the next game in Buffalo. Smith took the warm-up and stood at attention during the national anthem. Then he skated out from the bench and looked up to where the team's owners, Seymour and Northrop Knox, were sitting. Smith waved at them and hollered, 'So long Seymour! So long Nordie!' Then he skated off the ice, disappeared into the Sabres' dressing room, and was never seen again in Buffalo."
Told by Dick Irvin - Hank Bassen played for the Red Wings in the 1960's. "One night in Boston, Bassen was felled when hit in the head by a shot. At times like that the trainer will ask the injured player some basic questions to make sure he's all there. The Detroit trainer said to Bassen, 'What team do you play for? What team are we playing? And who's the President of the United States?' Bassen replied, 'I play for the Detroit Red Wings, we're playing the Boston Bruins, and how the **** should I know? I'm a Canadian."
- "I guess I gained whatever notoriety I have for the incident in Vancouver
when I ended up in jail. . . a fan came out of the stands and there was a fight
between Don Saleski and Greg Boddy. The fight was up against the glass
maybe 8 or 10 seats down from where I was sitting. The fan grabbed Saleski
by the hair and was pulling him over the glass. It was really dumb. I just
reacted to it. I jumped over the railing beside our bench to go after him
and keep him off our player. There I was lumbering through all the people
with the big pads and everything and it took me so long to get there the guy
could have left the building and been on a plane to L. A. Then the cops
came after me and Cowboy Flett and now a bunch of our players are coming up into
the seats. During the melee a policeman got hit, but not by me. I
"The fight ended and we all got penalties and nothing else happened until a couple weeks later when the Crown pressed charges against us. We had to go to trial, but they waited until after the season. We went there when the draft was being held in Montreal. There were seven of us and we called ourselves the 'Vancouver Seven.' You know, like the 'Chicago Seven.' At the trial we were fined and then they held me over because the policeman testified that after he got hit all he saw were goal pads.
"That was on a Friday and they held me over until Monday. That's when the judge charged me with assault. I think he gave me a 60-day sentence or something and they threw me in jail. That's what really hurt. They took my belt and tie and all that stuff. I was in jail for about twenty minutes and then the Flyers bailed me out and filed an appeal. They had a lawyer there at the time. The judge who sentenced me was running for office up there and he was really gonna get his name in the paper. He accused me of being the reason demonstrations and riots were going on in Vancouver.
"They had another judge for the appeal and what he said was right. He said, 'You have a responsibility to the youth of this nation. They look up to you whether you think they do or not.' He dismissed the sentence but the $500 fine stood.
"(Coach) Fred Shero had a great line when it was all over. He said, 'I wish they'd kept Taylor in jail until September. Then he would have been in the best shape of his life when he reported to training camp."
Byron Dafoe - When Byron was three months old, his British mother wanted to bring him into Canada, because his father was Canadian, but there was some problem with the immigration officer. "I don't know what it was, but some of the paperwork wasn't right. There was some delay or something. Finally, the guy just let her through--and no lie, this is what he said: 'Aw, go ahead. We'll let him in. He looks like a hockey player.'"
When the Maple Leafs Gardens arena was closing, Eddie Belfour paid $1000 for 90 minutes of ice time there. He played forward for a change (and scored twice, by the way) with twenty-five of his buddies, including a furniture maker, a construction worker, mechanics, and other occupations, from as far as Dallas, Detroit, and Chicago. "It was a blast. We had two teams. Some guys drove. Some guys flew. We all made it and had jerseys made up. We took photographs and had a great time. It was a dream come true for a lot of guys who hadn't been there."
In 1994, when he was with the Canadiens, Patrick Roy got appendicitis. He missed game three, but postponed surgery, left the hospital with antibiotics, and played in the fourth. He stopped 39 shots to backstop a 5-2 win. "I couldn't even put my pants on," he says of the pain. "It's not something I recommend to anybody."
Glen Hanlon - "When I first started my career, I removed myself from everything. I had everything regimented from the second I woke up. I wouldn't talk to anybody. I wouldn't listen to anything. I knew what time I'd have to be home to nap. What I was gong to eat." But, he ended up psyching himself out, so he tried the opposite approach. "I tried to make the day as normal as possible. I tried thinking less about the game, not more." Even so, " . . . From the time you woke up to the time you actually played the game, you've had 100 great games and 100 bad ones. You were just hoping that by game time, when the dice finally stopped rolling, you were having a great game, not a bad one."
Andy Moog - "I had one instance in my career where I was really baffled. John Ogrondnick was driving down the wing and he took a shot. The puck literally vanished on me. I had no idea where it was. There was no screen or deflection. There was nothing between him and me--but after he took the shot, the next time I saw that puck it was behind me in the net. It was the first time in my career that I was totally baffled."