CBC Digital Archives

1959: Plante ushers in masked goalie era

Three colours, 24 Stanley Cups, over 3,000 victories, millions of fans – and 100 years. In 2009 the Montreal Canadiens celebrate their centennial as one of hockey's most legendary teams. The Habs have made Montrealers proud, but they are beloved far beyond their hometown for their star players and impressive records. CBC Digital Archives pays tribute to the bleu, blanc et rouge with 14 remarkable moments in Habs history.

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He wasn't the first goalie to wear one, but on Nov. 1, 1959, Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens broke with 70 years of hockey tradition and became the first professional netminder to don a goalie mask as a regular part of his uniform. After a shot from Rangers centre Andy Bathgate opens an inch-long gash from Plante's upper lip into his left nostril, he returns to the ice with seven stitches - and a mask. This retrospective CBC-TV clip looks back at Plante's innovation on the occasion of his death in 1986.
• Shaken, and bleeding badly from the cut, Plante was helped from the ice by a pair of teammates, his face buried in a darkening towel as the league-prescribed 20-minute goalie injury clock ticked down.

• After receiving the stitches, Plante took to his net again to the organ swells of For He's a Jolly Good Fellow. Crossing the ice to the Habs' dressing room, he disappeared momentarily before reemerging with a mask he had recently taken to wearing during often-injurious team practices.

• As the capacity crowd surveyed the novel spectacle, the masked Plante all but slammed the door on the New York players, conceding just a solitary rebound goal late in the third period.

• The Canadiens proceeded to post the first win of an ensuing 18-game unbeaten streak. The string of success silenced most goalie-mask skeptics, while prompting several other NHL goaltenders to follow Plante's lead.

• Despite a brief slump later in the season, Plante rebounded to collect his fifth straight Vezina Trophy while backstopping the Canadiens to another first-place regular-season finish and a record fifth consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Feb. 27, 1986
Reporter: Terry Walker
Duration: 0:55

Last updated: November 16, 2012

Page consulted on October 21, 2014

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