As told to: Stephen Smith
Which goaltender gave you the most problems?
Gerry Cheevers. I did score some goals on him, but he was one of the hardest goaltenders for me to score on. I couldn’t figure him out.
When I played, I used to watch the warm-ups all the time and then practice shooting from different spots. Where I was most dangerous was at the top of the circle, and out farther. I wasn’t that great inside, I don’t think. Kenny Dryden: the easiest goaltender for me to score on. Yep. Because Kenny was scared of my shot. And I beat him high all the time, always over the shoulder.
When I was in Boston, I remember going to practice as a rookie and as a rookie you just go all-out, you just shoot it, and I go in there and I put one past Cheevers and I thought, Yeah, I beat him. But Gerry, if you hit him with a puck, he’d chase you down the ice. I hit him once in his chest and he chased me with his stick with the guys all laughing. Gerry would stand, no lie. All he did was stand in net, stand there, wave his stick. It was his practice and if you hit him, he’d chase you down the ice.
But goaltenders are really strange. Our thing with Bernie Parent, we’d say, Bernie, you weren’t that goddamn good, you only had 18 shots a game. One time in Vancouver he comes in — he always smoked the cigar, right? — he’d come in with the cigar and say, Boys, I feel good, give me one goal today, that’s it. And guys would be smiling, great, yeah, we only have to get the one goal. And 99 per cent of the time, that’s all we needed, the one goal. That’s the way he was. And Bernie actually stayed out to practice his angle-shots all the time. I would shoot the puck at him and I’d tell him, Bernie, just move over a bit more, and he’d say, Just shoot the puck, I’ll do the moving. He would have everything all angled out, left-handed shots versus right-handed, he would work on that, the only goaltender I ever saw who worked on something after a practice was Bernie.
All the other ones I played with never did.
STEPHEN SMITH is the tall author of the popular hockey blog PUCKSTRUCK, which also happens to be the name of his first book (Greystone), longlisted for the 2015 Charles Taylor Prize in non-fiction.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *