When Jake the Snake was a kid, he soon realized that playing defense would be difficult with asthma. So, like any kid of the 1930s would do, he had his dad carve him a goalie stick out of a tree root and let people shoot pucks at his face.
Coming from a poor family, Jacques’ father made his first pads with stuffed potato sacks and reinforced them with wooden planks. While it has been debated whether it was to relax or family need, his mother also taught him how to knit everything from underwear to tuques. That would be something he’d continue to do his whole life.
While playing goal for a factory team at 15, his father mentioned that the other players were earning a salary. Jacques talked to the coach and started earning 50 cents a game as long as he didn’t tell the other players.
His innovations include communicating with his teammates (and also raising the glove hand for icing calls), leaving the net to play dumped pucks, stressing positional play (pioneering the ever popular butterfly style of goal-tending), and possibly his biggest innovation, when natural disaster Andy Bathgate took a wild backhander and split Jacques’ nose open in a game needing seven stitches, regular use of the goalie mask.
that little kid sitting in the front row and the looks on Gene’s face are priceless.
While he had used the mask in practices before, traditionalist Toe Blake was furious when he came out wearing it. Not one to take shit from a guy named Toe, Jacques continued to win.
Despite winning five consecutive Cups and six overall with the Canadiens, Jacques was traded to New York for Gump “I don’t need a nickname because my name is f-ing Gump” Worsley. Jacques being traded to New York from Montreal at the time could only be compared to taking your significant other to that new hip sushi place everyone is talking about and they just poop on a plate and hand it to you.
It’s no surprise that Jacques decided to retire early shortly after.
After being retired briefly, fellow bad ass Scotty Bowman asked him to park himself between the pipes as the Montreal Jr. Canadiens were set to match up against the powerhouse Soviet National Team.
“Suppose you were working at your job one day, and you made a little mistake. Then all of a sudden a red light went on over your desk, and fifteen thousand people stood up and booed.” – Jacques Plante
Despite all that mess, he only let in one goal and his team won 2-1. This prompted the Soviet Coach, Anatoli Tarasov, to say, “Jacques Plante is the best goaltender I’ve ever seen.”
He won seven Vezinas, six Stanley Cups, and carried a 2.37 goals against average with 82 shutouts in his 18 year career. What’s more important are the advancements he brought to the sport of hockey.