Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Habs Goalie One Game Wonders

Here's a little deviation for the goaltender series I have been running this past month. It has to do with 20 men who have tended goal for the Canadiens. (Notice I did not say goaltenders - 4 were defensemen and one played forward.)

Not all Canadiens goalies were destined for greatness, or even careers of any length for that matter. While names such as Vezina, Plante, Dryden and Roy have captured the imaginations of generations of hockey fans, other names slip beyond the simply trivial into the category of statistical footnotes.

For most of the 20 goalies listed below, the one game they participated in with the Canadiens is likely one they will recall for their entire lives.

Their varied appearances between the posts fall into several different categories.

In the early days of the game, teams largely carried but one goaltender. This practice ended in the beginning of the 1960's. For a time being, the goalies served their own penalties themselves.

Imagine a team killing two minutes off, with a defenseman in nets!

In the Canadiens case, four such defenseman and a forward were offered as meat to opposing powerplays.

There are unfortunately no pictures of these brave souls in goal, and I always wondered whether defensemen were allowed to strap on pads or wear gloves during the brief stints.

Imagine the sight of goaltenders in full gear, tripping out of the penalty box, racing back to the net in mid powerplay!

Since teams back then carried no backups, emergency callups of the nearest goalie in the organization were often required, without much notice. This was simplified if a team were playing at home. Should they be on the road, a goalie would need to be loaned for such an occasion.

During a certain time in the 1930's and '40's, the NHL required teams to have one so termed "practice goalie" in attendance in the event that one of the two team goalies would go down to injury. Don Aiken, who was paged down from the stands of the Boston Gardens to tend goal for the Canadiens on March 13, 1958 is one such occurance of rent-a-goalie madness. His tale of the game is one of excitement blended with sheer nervousness.

Roy Worters, then of the New York Americans, is by far the most well known name amongst these netminders. The future Hall Of Famer lived up to his reputation and got the win for the Canadiens. Others may not have tried as hard in gaining two points for the competition. It is reputed that certain goaltenders were advised to stink the joint out if they wanted promotion within their respective organizations more quickly.

One such goalie was Claude Pronovost from the Canadiens organization. He was loaned to the Boston Bruins for a game against the Canadiens, and promptly shut them out. Montreal weren't exactly pleased and left him toiling in the minors another three seasons before calling him up for a pair of games.

For most minor leaguers, subs, practice goalies, and standby's, finally getting that long awaited opportunity to shine would be a dream come true. In October of 1963, that opportunity presented itself to Jean-Guy Morrisette, who was on the bench when Habs starter Gump Worsley went down to injury. Morrisette played over the game's last half, and his nervousness showed. While he didn't win the contest, he was tagged to appear in more upcoming games, Unfortunately, the very next day in practice, he took a shot to the face that resulted in a broken cheekbone. The smallish Morrisette was out for the season.

Regardless of the outcome of their individual games, 10 of the 19 goalies presented here were called up for cups of coffee. Five survived to play again, elsewhere.

Tomas Vokoun, was brutal in relief of Patrick Roy against the Flyers in Febuary of 1997. He was fortunate to play in an era where getting another shot was easier. He's made the most of his chance in becoming a steady starter with Nashville and was traded this past summer to the Florida Panthers.

Vincent Riendeau also recovered well from an unauspiscious debut. He became a quality goalie with the Red Wings and Blues organizations after leaving Montreal.

Abbie Cox was already a seasoned journeyman when he got the call to Montreal, and he played ramdom contests in the bigs both before and after it.

Randy Exelby, who played all of 3 minutes of shutout hockey for the Canadiens, was just another goalie who had the misfortune of being a Canadiens while Patrick Roy was rewritting history. He didn't even get to finish his coffee before he was off to Edmonton, just in time for cream and sugar as Grant Fuhr's backup for a short spell.

The 20 One Game Wonders are:

1909-10 M. Larochelle* (thrown out of Canadiens first ever game for disputing a goal, never to return.)

1913-14 Ernie Dubeau** ( 2 minutes played, no other details available ) Replaced penalized Georges Vezina.

1922-23 Sprague Cleghorn** ( 2 minutes played, 0 goals against ) Replaced penalized Georges Vezina in 4-2 loss to Ottawa, Febuary 1, 1923.

1929-30 Roy Worters ( a win, full game played, 2 goals against ) Loaned by the New York Americans to replace injured George Hainsworth, Febuary 27.

1929-30 Mickey Murray* ( a loss, full game played, 4 goals against ) Recalled from the Providence Reds (Can-Am) to replace injured George Hainsworth, Febuary 25

1931-32 Albert Leduc** ( 2 minutes played, 1 goal against ) Replaced penalized George Hainsworth, December 2.

1935-36 Abbie Cox ( a tie, 70 minutes played, 1 goal against ) Loaned by the Springfield Indians (Can-Am) to replace injured Wilf Cude, Febuary 13.

1937-38 Paul Gauthier* ( a tie. 70 minutes played, 2 goals against ) Loaned by the New Haven Eagles (AHL) to replace injured Wilf Cude, January 13.

1939-40 Charlie Sands** ( no decision, 25 minutes played, 5 goals against ) Replaced injured Wilf Cude in a 10-1 loss to Chicago, Febuary 22.

1949-50 Ken Reardon*** ( no decision, minutes not know, goals against not know) Replaced injured Bill Durnan in game against the Rangers on October 14.

1952-53 Hal Murphy* ( a win, full game played, 4 goals against ) Promoted from the Montréal Royals to replace injured Gerry McNeil, November 8.

1954-55 Andre Binette* ( a win, full game, 4 goals against ) Promoted from the Montréal Royals (QHL) to replace injured Jacques Plante, November 11, 1954.

1957-58 Len Broderick* ( a win, full game, 2 goals against ) Loaned by the Toronto Malboros (OHA) as an emergency replacement for Jacques Plante, October 30.

1957-58 Don Aiken* ( a loss, 34 minutes played, 6 goals against ) Boston Bruins practice goaltender. Loaned to replace injured Jacques Plante, March 13.

1958-59 Claude Cyr* ( no decision, 20 minutes played, 1 goal against ) Promoted from the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens (EOHL) to replace injured Claude Pronovost, March 19.

1963-64 Jean-Guy Morrisette* ( a loss, 36 minutes played, 4 goals against ) Replaced injured Gump Worsley in 2nd period, October 30. Injured next day in practice.

1987-88 Vincent Riendeau ( no decision, 36 minutes played, 5 goals against, 22 shots ) October 28, Calgary Flames

1988-89 Randy Exelby ( 3 minutes played, 0 goals against, 1 shot ) Came off the bench during a Patrick Roy bathroom break, January 27, Buffalo Sabres

1996-97 Tomas Vokoun ( no decision, 20 minutes played, 4 goals against, 14 shots ) February 6, Philadelphia Flyers

2001-02 Olivier Michaud* ( no decision, 18 minutes played, 0 goals against, 14 shots ) October 30, Edmonton Oilers, at 18 years, 46 days old, became the youngest goalie to enter a game in Canadiens history, and second youngest in NHL history.

*Played in only the one career game in goal.
** Defenseman substituted for goaltender penalty / injury.
*** Forward substituted for goaltender injury.


Bryan said...

boy it's tough to see vokoun in there

Robert L said...

Bryan - without hindsight, try choosing between Theodore, Garon, and Vokoun back then.

Keep in mind that Vokoun has won little in Nashville or Florida to make Habs fans envious.

Althought he turned out to be an above average goalie, it doesn't make me as naucious as fumbling the ball as Sam pollock did 35 years earlier on Tony Esposito - Hall Of Famer and all.

Keep following the goalie series - dozens upon dozens of interesting stories to be told.

T.C. Denault said...

It's hard to feel bad about Esposito too, after all we did have Dryden who beat him in two finals and was the best goalie of the seventies.

Robert L said...

True enough, but don't let hindsight distort what was an terrible decision by Sam Pollock.

Esposito was in Montreal in 1968-69 for their 4th Cup in 5 years. Pollock lost Esposito to waivers the following summer by claiming Dick Duff and having to expose Tony. Chicago snapped him up and Esposito won the Calder and set a modern day shutout record while Montreal missed the 1970 playoffs, and possibly another Stanley Cup.

Had they hung on to Esposito, they might have won in 1970 AND 1971. Either way, they gave up sound value for absolutely no return at all.

As Dryden had yet to even make it to Nova Scotia at that time, and with Gump Worsley growing older, it would have been smarter to expose Gump to waivers than Tony.

I guess even geniuses have bad days. Pollock had often stated that it was move he wished he could undo.

jacques cayer said...

Esposito was a good goalie in that era, he is a hall of famer no doubt.Well respected for what he did during his career as a goalie.
Sammy Pollock made a decision at that time looking ahead on who could help his team better. For 2 yrs Montreal struggled,Dryden showed and the rest is history. Esposito was not a big fan of French Hockey Players and Montreal knew it. As an Ex Equipment Manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning i often heard Esposito bad mouth French Hockey Players. I was often insulted by Esposito for being French Canadian and I thought he was un-professional. pollock saw that and got rid of him.