Story of the Week
Records are made to be broken, but goaltender Glenn Hall’s record for consecutive games will never be bettered. From the first game of the 1955-56 season until 12 games into the 1962-63 season, Hall never missed a minute of NHL action. Finally, on November 7, 1962, Hall pulled himself out of a game against the Boston Bruins. His back had bothered him enough to know that he had to leave that game, especially after Boston’s first shot on goal went through him, and to the bench he went.
Glenn Hall’s consecutive game streak ended at 502 games, 552 if you include the playoffs. It remains one of the great accomplishments in hockey history. And in those days, goalies did not wear masks, and Hall, as were all goalies then, was stitched plenty. But the stitches were between periods, and back he went.
Not only was Hall an iron man, he also played net in a record 13 All-Star games, his first in 1955. In that game, he represented the defending champion Detroit Red Wings; he showed such great promise as a rookie that Detroit traded away the great Terry Sawchuk. Hall finished the season by winning the Calder Trophy as "rookie of the year," leading the league in shutouts, a feat he would repeat five more times.
Hall was one to speak his mind, and his criticism of team management led to his being traded to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks in 1957. He didn’t miss a beat, personally leading Chicago four years later to their first Stanley Cup triumph in 23 years.
As great as Glenn Hall was, ironically "Mr. Goalie" literally seemed to hate hockey. He was sick to his stomach before every game, and often between periods. The bucket that he kept right there with him in the locker room became part of his legend.
In 1967, Blackhawks management deemed Hall expendable, and left the 36-year-old unprotected in the league’s first expansion draft. The St. Louis Blues quickly made him their very first selection. That’s when I first began to watch and appreciate his net-minder capabilities as a Blues season ticket holder. Along with another legend, Jacques Plante, the Blues had outstanding goaltending as an NHL expansion team, the first team the legendary Scotty Bowman ever coached.
Although Hall described his new team as kids and castoffs, his play was so spectacular while his team was being swept out of the 1968 Stanley Cup finals by powerful Montreal that he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as best playoff performer. (To the expansion Blues’ credit, although they lost the Cup finals in four games, all four losses were by just one goal.) He and the even-older Plante won the Vezina Trophy for lowest goals-against average in 1968-69.
Glenn Hall finally retired in 1971 at the age of 40, after accumulating 84 shutouts during his great career. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who was the last switch-hitter to win MVP honors in the American League? This is a nasty one because you won’t think of a pitcher. It was Vida Blue with the Oakland A’s in 1971.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the only player to pinch-hit for both Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski? (I’ll even give you a hint; he played for Boston, as if you couldn’t figure that out.) See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.