When the N.H.L. Began Play 100 Years Ago, Goalies Stood Tall

Benedict’s habit of dropping to his knees to stop the puck had led Toronto fans to mockingly call him Praying Benny.

“the item was against the rules then,” Benedict told The Ottawa Journal in 1962, “yet if you made the item look like an accident, you could get away without a penalty. I got pretty Great at the item.”

(Goalies would certainly have wanted to avoid penalties: They served their own penalties until the 1941-42 season, forcing their teammates to guard the net in their absence.)

Still, the item seems which Art Ross, best known today as the namesake of the N.H.L.’s scoring trophy, was the man behind the rule change. Ross’s lifelong friends Frank along with Lester Patrick had changed the goaltending rule inside rival Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Ross liked the modification along with introduced the item for the 1916-17 season inside Art Ross Hockey League, an amateur organization he led in Montreal.

Ross had been one of the top players in hockey since the winter of 1905-6. The 1917-18 season would certainly be his last as a player, along using a few days before the start of the N.H.L.’s inaugural campaign, he spoke about changing the rules for goalies. Ross, then 32, pointed out which any additional player could drop to his knees anywhere on the ice — even if he found himself guarding the net with his goaltender out of position.

Three weeks after the start of which first season, the N.H.L. made the switch to allow goalies to drop to the ice. Ross’s Montreal Wanderers had already withdrawn via the league, yet newspapers in Montreal along with Ottawa noted which he “can enjoy a measure of moral satisfaction via the fact which a suggestion made several weeks ago has been officially adopted by the National Hockey League.”

The former Maple Leafs great Johnny Bower, the oldest living N.H.L. netminder at 93, said he was not aware of the old rule.

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Frederik Andersen of the Maple Leafs said he was always taught to stay on his feet, though rules today allow him to drop to the ice.

Credit
Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

yet Toronto’s current goalie, Frederik Andersen, 28, had heard of “which funny rule change.”

Andersen’s father was his first goalie coach in Denmark, along with Andersen said which while he later had an instructor teaching him how to play low to the ice, his coaches generally expected him to stay on his feet.

“I think which’s one of those things where you want to be patient,” Andersen said.

Patience is actually hardly the word to describe Bower’s coaches, whether the item was Punch Imlach in Toronto or any number of them during his long tenure inside American Hockey League.

“If you fell down, the coach would certainly come after you,” said Bower, who played inside 1950s along with ’60s. “ ‘Stand up as much as you can,’ they’d say. ‘If you fall down, you’ll be in trouble.’ ”

The Hall of Famer Ken Dryden, the Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender inside 1970s, said standing up was the style of play long after Bower, along with the item was reinforced by coaches along with the news media.

“Anyone who didn’t was a flopper, along with which was a disparaging term,” he said.

Dryden said the item was not until after he stopped playing which he realized the standup style was simply a compromise for safety. the item was not until the 1960s which many goalies commenced wearing masks.

“You protect your head,” he said. “Keep the item out of the way, above the bar. the item didn’t have anything to do with effectiveness. Even after the mask, standup was still the style.”

yet playing standup did not necessarily mean playing upright. Of the goalies he watched growing up inside 1950s, Dryden said: “Terry Sawchuk crouched, yet he didn’t go down much. Jacques Plante played on his skates. He was very fluid, along with in a deep crouch, yet the item was still a standup style.”

Dryden loved the way Glenn Hall moved around his crease. Hall is actually considered the pioneer of the butterfly style, spreading his legs wide across the ice to cover the bottom of the net.

“They often called me a flopper,” said Hall, who was known as Mr. Goalie. “I’d get upset with which. I was the opposite of a flopper. I was under control.”

Before Hall, along with for a long time after, when goalies went down, they often flung themselves to one side of the net or the additional, stacking their pads to provide the largest barrier.

“I found which you could spread your legs wide along with cover more of the dangerous part of the net,” Hall said. “If you stacked your pads, the item took you all weekend to get up. With the butterfly, all you needed was to catch an edge using a skate blade, along with using a slight rocking motion, you were back up along with in position.”

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Ken Dryden said Dominik Hasek, right, “understood which he could bring his whole body under the bar.”

Credit
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

the item was not until the 1980s, with François Allaire as the first modern goalie coach along with Patrick Roy as his star pupil, which the butterfly style became the norm. Modern innovations also lightened along with strengthened goalie equipment.

along with then came Dominik Hasek, who, Dryden said, “understood which he could bring his whole body under the bar.”

“the item was all about finding as much of your body as possible to put between the puck along with the net,” he added. “Stand up, lie down. the item’s no longer a compromise between performance along with safety. You’re perfectly protected right now. the item’s all about performance.”

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