Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from Chapter 1: Setting the Records Straight
There is considerable lore and legend regarding the game of hockey. Some of it is true, while other "well-known facts" are actually myths that have been passed on through decades and have become entrenched as hockey history. These questions will challenge your knowledge of hockey fact vs. fantasy.
First Period Who Am I?
1. I am the First NHL coach to perform goaltending heroics for my team.
Odie Cleghorn, coach of the expansion Pittsburgh Pirates, made his only goaltending appearance in the NHL on February 23, 1926. Cleghorn's Pirates had lost three consecutive games and were five points out of a playoff spot when star goaltender Roy Worters fell ill with pneumonia. Without a suitable backup goalie available, Cleghorn strapped on the goal pads and stopped all but two shots directed his way by the Montreal Canadiens in a 3-2 Pirates victory. The expansion Pirates used the momentum from their coach's goaltending victory to reel off wins in six of their next seven games and squeak into the final playoff spot by one point. Odie Cleghorn's team made the playoffs in their first year in the NHL, with his goaltending appearance marking the start of their great stretch drive.
It is ironic that Odie Cleghorn, a rival coach who happened to be a spectator at the second game of the 1928 Stanley Cup finals on April 7, 1928, was then called in to replace Ranger coach Lester Patrick behind the bench when Patrick made his famous appearance as a replacement goalie for New York.
2. I am the oldest individual to play in my First NHL game.
Ranger coach Lester Patrick was forty-three years old when he played his first NHL game. Patrick filled in on the Ranger blueline in a 2-1 victory over the New York Americans on March 20, 1927. He had seen plenty of big-league action in the western professional leagues, but this was his first NHL appearance as a player.
The oldest lifetime minor-leaguer to finally play in the NHL was Connie Madigan. Madigan was thirty-eight years old when he hit the ice for a total of twenty-five games with the St. Louis Blues in 1973.
3. I am the first NHL goaltender to wear a mask.
Montreal Maroons goaltender Clint Benedict was the first netminder to wear a face mask in the NHL. Benedict wore a crude leather mask to protect a nose injury he had suffered in early January of 1930. Benedict's first game with his facial protection was February 20, 1930, when his Maroons tied the New York Americans 3-3 at Madison Square Garden. Benedict wore the mask over five games until March 4, when his nose was re-injured in a 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, an injury which convinced him to retire. The masked Benedict posted a record of one win, three losses and one tie during what would be his last five games in the NHL. Almost thirty years later, on November 1, 1959, Jacques Plante would make his masked debut against the Rangers at the same Madison Square Garden.
4. I recorded a hat trick in a single overtime period of an NHL game.
Ken Doraty of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored three of his nine 1933-34 season goals on January 16 in Ottawa. The visiting Maple Leafs had tied the Senators 4-4 with two goals in the final six minutes of regulation time. Doraty scored at 1:35, 2:20 and 9:05 of the mandatory ten minute overtime period to record the only NHL hat trick in a single overtime period.
5. I am the first goaltender with no big-league experience to backstop an NHL team to the Stanley Cup.
While Ken Dryden joined the Canadiens from the minors to deliver a Conn Smythe- winning performance in the 1971 playoffs, Earl Robertson was the first Stanley Cup- winning goaltender to have spent the regular season in the minors. Robertson tended net for the Detroit Red Wings's farm club, the Pittsburgh Hornets, in the 1936-37 season before getting the call to replace injured goaltender Normie Smith in the 1937 playoffs. Robertson faced the New York Rangers in all five games of the finals, recording back-to-back shutouts in the last two. In spite of his outstanding playoff performance, Robertson was dealt to the New York Americans before the next season.