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The Vintage Leaf Memories Podcast – Episode 6

One of the exasperating aspects of the 2013-’14 Leaf season for me has been the goaltending situation.  I know I am not a majority voice on this one, but it has been clear to me from the get go that this would be an un-workable situation with Bernier and Reimer. Though they have both played some lights out hockey this season, management's obvious favouring of Bernier has been patently clear from the get-go and that has made the so-called competition a fraud. And I believe (can't prove it: I just believe it is the case) these situations tend to be a drain on team chemistry.  So the benefit a team gets from goalies playing well is mitigated by having unhappy players looking over their shoulders.  And when that is the case, players are usually, over time, not going to perform as well as they would when they feel secure and confident and know the organization supports them fully.

The “idea” is great—two young goalies who are capable players battling it out for playing time.  On the surface, it sounds like it should work like a charm.

In reality, however, these situations—as with NFL quarterback controversies—inevitably end up in a mess.

While Bernier/Reimer debate was the backdrop for the show, the latest VLM podcast actually harkens back to, for me, a much more pleasant time in Leaf history.  It was a time when two goalies shared the crease in an amicable and healthy environment.  The year was 1970-’71 and the goalies were Jacques Plante and Bernie Parent. (They actually played together in Toronto for two years, though only one full season.) Their ‘competition’ worked but it was a very different situation than the current Maple Leaf scenario. (That's a neat old Dan Baliotti photo of Plante during that '70-'71 season with the Leafs.  By the way, that was a new-look uniform for the Leafs at the time, very different from what had been their classic uniform for many years prior.)

That was a wonderful Leaf team, with two outstanding netminders,  and I try to bring that to life in today’s episode…

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4 comments:

  1. Michael, you always spark wonderful memories for your readers.
    That was, for some reason, a magical year for me. My Dad gave my Mom a holiday by piling the four of us in the car and driving to Toronto in the winter to see this wonderful team. We stayed at the Royal York(?)-it seemed very plush to me!
    Bernie Parent was in the net that night and the Leafs beat the Kings 8-1. What a thrill it was! I still remember Monahan, Harrison, Lee, McMillan, McKenny...and could rattle them all off including stats to the surprise of my male classmates. (Do you remember Jim McKenny doing the stunt work for the movie " Faceoff"? He was good, the movie was awful!) Dorey's son lives near my son's house so Jim ( Kingston) is often there. Bobby Baun also signed autographed mini sticks here. I had one.Without a doubt they are still my favourite Maple Leafs team ever. Thanks for the memories, Michael! Colleen N.

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    1. Nice to hear your son lives near Jim Dorey's son, Colleen. I interviewed Jim for this site (I think the audio file exists on the VLM site somewhere) a few years ago. He was tremendous.

      Yes, I remember that McKenny was in that not-well-reviewed movie!

      That team was, to me, one of the Leaf squads I thoroughly enjoyed following. Seeing them in action with your Dad must be a warm memory for you, Colleen. Thanks for posting.

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  2. Thank you for sparking some wonderful memories that were at the inception of my fandom... Jacques Plante was my first 'favourite' goalie. By the time he played for the Leafs I was transitioning into a part-time goalie in my floor hockey league (finished the season as the leading goal scorer and the best g.a.a. cause we were all 'stats hounds'). The reason I was willing to play goal was because of Plante and his puck handling prowess. I felt like I could play a bigger role than someone who was just the last line of defense and Jacques inspired me to be more active than others. He was quite the innovator.

    Funny how that early experience was revisited at 27 when I went to Chicago to take some college courses and it was assumed by my dorm-mates that a Canadian would help their abysmal floor hockey team... so I donned the pads and recall my first game facing over 60 shots in a 1/2 hour game, I gave up two goals... the amazing part of the memory was that even though goalies couldn't cross the center line, I managed to score as well. A 2-1 loss was as good as a victory for my guys, so we enjoyed that quite a bit (the games were quite sporadic, so only played a couple that single semester when I attended).

    I well remember the disheartening game 4 playoff against the Rangers and (unfortunately) the 'I don't know why that happened' seems to correlate to a number of games this year... your description on the podcast was apt!

    I'm enjoying your ability to bring those memories to life, Michael... glad you're enjoying making the recordings for us!

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    1. I sense your reference to playing hockey as a youngster or even as a young man (in whatever form, ice hockey, ground hockey, floor hockey) and especially as a goalie evokes memories for a lot of people here, InTimeFor62. And thats one of the reasons why I started this particular podcast (to go along with this site, and the Leaf book I have developed). My stories, like yours, may trigger fond memories for other people, too.

      Yes, Plante was an innovator. He was one of the first names I learned about as a young fan in the '50s. A "roaming" netminder, he was called. But he innovated well beyond that, and even beyond the "invention" of the goalie mask. It was great that season to have an "ex-Hab" in our midst, showing the kids, including Parent, something about learning to win.

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