Tuesday, July 18, 2017

1964/65 - A Season of Change

  1964/65 - A Season of Change

    1964/65 is a remarkable season from an NHL goaltending perspective because it represents the dawn of a new era.  A mid-season rule change compelled clubs to carry two netminders and from 1965/66 on each NHL team was required to dress two goalies. Before this time some teams carried two goalies but the backup was usually far down the depth chart and only dressed in cases of serious injury. They watched the game from the stands with fans. The rule change led to teams not only dressing two goalies, but also carrying two NHL caliber goalies. It became an increasingly common practice to 'pull' your goalie because you had another quality option ready on the bench. Thus, in one season the number of goaltending jobs in the league doubled, and then the following season doubled again with expansion. At the start of 1964/65 season there were 6 guaranteed goaltending jobs in the NHL, by 1967, there were 24. It was a staggering change for a position once dominated by a handful of iron men.

A little history
Up until the 1950s the home team was responsible for supplying the emergency backup goalie, commonly known as the 'house' goalie. Teams traveled almost exclusively with one netminder. There are some exceptions and evidence that during critical playoff games a team might carry a second goalie rather than risk giving the reigns to someone who belonged to the opposition. By the 1960s, although not required to carry two netminders, a number of teams began to adopt the practice. While some teams made two quality goalies available, its unclear how often the #2 traveled with the team. Furthermore, the second goalies were commonly dispatched to the minors to keep fresh or replace an injured goalie somewhere else in the team's system. If an NHL club carried a second goalie, they were usually a few notches down the depth chart and dressed only due to serious injury to the starter. If a backup had to play a couple games during a road trip, he was likely to be replaced later on with the club's AHL starter or another option. 

The New Rule
Late January, 1965 an NHL rule change mandated that, during the playoffs, teams not only had to carry two netminders, but they had to be dressed and on the bench. Although the rule officially came into effect the following season, there was likely an understanding agreed to at the board of governors and it appears the six teams agreed that from then on, every team would carry two goalies. Its uncertain if backups at this time were permitted to dress or were still waiting in the stands. Starting during the 1965/66 season, the new rule officially stipulated that a second goalie had to be carried, dressed and game ready for every regular season and playoff game. (1) 

Why was this rule implemented? 
NHL owners such as Jim Norris of the Blackhawks were vital in implementing the change. He was quoted in newspapers at the time as saying this about its implementation, "the rule will cover only the playoffs this time but we hope it can become a regular-season practice in deference to fans who now must wait 20 minutes or so if an emergency goalie has to dress and warm up." With TV becoming increasingly lucrative business, it wasn't practical to wait 20 minutes while an emergency goalie had to dress and warm up. The 1966 playoffs represented the NHL returning to National broadcasting in the United States and for the first time ever, in color. (2) 
As we will see below, starting in the 1960s, NHL teams had begun moving towards a two goalie system. It was due time for their extra goalies to be allowed to dress and sit on the bench with the rest of their team. Since most teams had already started carrying two goalies, a rule change made perfect sense.
There are some reports that the 'last straw' was during the 1964 playoffs when Terry Sawchuck had to be replaced by rookie goalie Bob Champoux during a televised game. The delay and whole situation was an embarrassment to the NHL. Newspaper reports ridiculed the move... "It's like replacing Mickey Mantle in the middle of a Series battle with some kid straight out of the Class D sticks who had never even been in a big league park before . . . and expecting him to star. That such steps must be taken in a sport's World Series is more important, and in the minds of many, ridiculous. The importance of a goalie can't be overrated at any time in hockey. In the Cup playoffs, he is even more vital" (9)

What did this rule change mean?
Up until the 1965 NHL playoffs an NHL team might carry a second goalie, but that goalie would be in the stands. Starting in the 1965 playoffs and carrying over to the 1965/66 NHL season, every team was required to dress two goalies in every NHL game. At the time of the rule change, only the Boston Bruins were not carrying two netminders to all games.(2) Teams finished the 1964/65 NHL season with two goalies on hand, but only one was required to dress. That changed going into the 1965/66 season. This meant that instead of replacing a goalie only when badly injured, teams were free to 'pull' a goalie who was simply having a bad game. Before the rule change this was an unacceptable practice because it took some time for a goalie to dress and warm up. The starter would only leave due to a serious injury. 

This late November, 1964 program shows Boston with one goalie and the Leafs with two
Starting by the 1965/66 season, it became common practice to keep not just two goalies, but your two best goaltenders in the NHL. Before this time a primary netminder was kept and the next best would usually tend goal for your affiliate clubs. The house goalie or trainer was kept on call as an emergency backup. The rule change spelled the end of the 'house' goalie. Teams were no longer required to keep someone in the stands for either themselves or the opposing club. 


Lets take a look at the 1964/65 goaltending situation on a team basis and what the rule change meant for each club. As we can see, teams were adapting their roster to carry two goalies. Unlike the 1950s, teams didn't want to risk putting in a 'house' goalie from the home team. The league appeared ready for a two-goalie system. 

Boston Bruins
In 1963/64, Ed Johnston played every game for the Bruins and no evidence suggests that Boston carried a backup for him. This changed halfway through the 1964/65 NHL season when the new rule was implemented. The 1964/65 Bruins started the season carrying proven stalwart Ed Johnston as their only netminder. About the same time the rule was about to take place, the Bruins recalled Jack Norris. 
Johnson (L) & Norris (R)
Although the last team to carry a single goalie, by all accounts, the Bruins did not have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new rule. It appears Bruins GM Lynn Patrick had started to realize that Ed Johnston needed the occasion day of rest and had already decided to recall Jack Norris from the LA Blades as a second goalie before the rule change came into effect. It quickly turned out to be a wise move as Johnston broke his hand and the Bruins were once again left with just one goalie. To satisfy the new rule, Boston acquired goalie Gary Smith on loan from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Smith spent about a month with the Bruins as Johnston recovered from injury. Norris played all the games and Gary Smith didn't get any official playing time with the Bruins that season. In fact, Smith never did get any official time in net with the Bruins, his only stint with the club being as a backup.
After the rule change each team carried two goalies, including the Bruins.
This program from early March, 1965 shows backup goalies Gary Smith and Bob Champoux
The 1965/66 Boston Bruins split goaltending duties between Ed Johnston and a young Bernie Parent, with another young goalie, Gerry Cheevers, getting in a few games in as well.

Chicago Blackhawks
No team or goalie demonstrates the one goalie system as well as the Blackhawks and Mr. Reliable, Glenn Hall. Hall played an NHL record, never to be broken, 502 consecutive games for the Hawks. In 1962, Denis Dejordy ended the streak by replacing an injured Hall. By 1963/64 the Hawks had promoted Dejordy to official NHL backup and started carrying two goalies at all times. The team that had once championed the one goalie team, had wholeheartedly adopted a two goalie system before the rule change had even been called to a vote.
Hall (L) & Dejordy (R)
While Chicago had started carrying Dejordy as a backup a year before the rule change, the 1964/65 season did see a new era in Chicago. Glenn Hall started to share more duties with his backup, not just getting rest when hurt. In 1963/64, Dejordy appeared in just 6 NHL games, in 1964/65, he appeared in 30. Glenn Hall and Denis Dejordy played all season and playoff games for the 1964/65 Blackhawks. They shared duties almost the entire season. In December, Dejordy spent some time playing in the AHL for the Buffalo Bisons while Hall took over duties in Chicago. Jack McCartan joined the Hawks as a backup goalie. Its not clear if he dressed but was listed as backup December 2nd and 5th, and was possibly carried for other games. The 1960 Gold medal-winning goalie wore #30 in his brief stint with the Hawks. Chicago had claimed McCartan in the 1963 inter-league draft but he never saw any official time in net with the club. His brief stint with the Blackhawks meant that the Hawks were evidently concerned with the quality of its backup as McCartan was a proven puck stopper.
Its seldom remembered that US Olympian Jack McCartan was briefly a member of the Blackhawks
The 1965/66 Blackhawks stuck with Glenn Hall as their primary netminder but brought in Dave Dryden to back him up all season and play the occasional game. 

Detroit Red Wings
In the early 1960s the Red Wings were a one-goalie team, relying primarily on Terry Sawchuk, only calling in a second goalie when he was injured.
The 1963/64 Red Wings were the last NHL team to take a goalie from the stands mid-game, dress him and then put him in net. This happened November 23 1963 when Harrison Gray game out of the stands to replace an injured Sawchuk. Since then, emergency goalies have dressed as backups, but none have gone from stands to between the pipes like Gray, no doubt due to the 1965 rule change that mandated two goalies be dressed.
Roger Crozier, 1965 Calder winner and last NHL goalie to start every game for his team 
The 1964/65 Red Wings carried Carl Wetzel as a backup goalie to Roger Crozier. Wetzel appears to have been carried as backup most of the season. Before rule change, Detroit likely traveled some games without Wetzel. Well into the season, after the rule change, Wetzel was dispatched to the AHL for some playing time in Pittsburgh to keep fresh. Bob Champoux was recalled from the same team to replace Wetzel on Detroit's roster. Bob Champoux briefly acted as backup to Crozier, wearing #22.
Roger Crozier was the last of the iron men goalies. During the 1964/65 season, Crozier started all 70 games for Detroit, Wetzel only replaced him twice because injury, playing just 33 minutes all season. Crozier is the last goalie ever to play in all his team's games. Crozier also played in all the Red Wings playoff games that season. Crozier was incredibly reliable, only having to be replaced in cases like December 26th when he was struck in the eye by the stick of Jim Pappin and replaced by Wetzel. 
Although Detroit relied heavily on Crozier, it was becoming clear to management that playing a single goalie all season was simply impractical. 
The big question among Detroit partisans has been how the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Crozier will hold up over the 70-game NHL schedule. "I don't think a goalie can play a full schedule," head coach Sid Abel said. "That's why I'll throw in our backup goalie, Carl Wetzel, to give Crozier a rest every once in a while. (5)
When the Red Wings had a mid-season week break, Detroit management sent Crozier and his wife exclusively to Miami Beach to relax. A team spokesperson was reported as saying that, "he has played every game expect parts of two and we figured this would be a good time to rest him. We figured a little rest would make him sharp the rest of the way in." (3)
By 1965/66, Crozier remained the starting goaltender in Detroit but Hank Bassen was on the roster all season, actually starting the occasional game to let Crozier rest.

Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens were a one goalie team in the early 1960s. Jacques Plante played the entire 70 game schedule for the 1961/62 Habs and was their primary goalie until his departure in 1963. From then on Charlie Hodge took over the reigns.
By the 1964/65 season, Montreal had already started to veer towards a two goalie system. They started the year with Hodge as likely the only goalie carried on some occasions. Records indicate that by November, Garry Bauman was dressing as backup to Charlie Hodge (8). Bauman never saw any time in net that season with Montreal as no injuries occurred. Bauman wore #30 and it’s unclear if he dressed or was in stands. After the rule change Montreal started to carry both Hodge and Gump Worsley. Worsley, an experienced veteran, started the season in Quebec with the Aces but was promoted to the Habs mid-season and ended up taking over the starting job from Hodge. Worsley eventually led the Habs to the Stanley Cup championship in a playoff run that saw the Habs dress 4 goalies.
Gar(r)y Bauman only dressed as backup with the Habs in 1964/65
The new goalie rule affected Montreal roster during playoff time. Montreal started the 1965 playoffs with both Worsley and Hodge but early April, Hodge was sidelined with a groin injury. Ernie Wakely was recalled to dress as backup to Worsley. By April 6th, Wakely was needed in Quebec for the Aces playoff run. Claude Dufour, another goalie in the Habs system, was recalled to dress as backup.
Claude Dufour had a brief stint as Habs backup in the playoffs
Claude Dufour was recalled from Hershey Bears to dress as backup in the fourth game of the first round series against Toronto. By April 10th, Wakely was back because the Aces were eliminated from their playoff run. Hodge later returned from injury to join the final series and Cup win against the Blackhawks. What makes this story interesting is that Montreal opted to include Wakely's name on the Stanley Cup. He didn't play a minute in net for Montreal all year, yet for his brief role as a backup in the playoffs, was awarded with his name on the Stanley Cup. Its unknown why the Canadiens opted to include Wakely on trophy. Garry Bauman spent significantly more time with the Canadiens that season but perhaps he wasn't as highly valued as Wakely. While Wakely was immortalized for his brief role as a backup in the playoffs, Claude Dufour was largely forgotten. 
Hodge, Wakely and Worsley all on the Stanley Cup
By 1965/66, the Montreal Canadiens were comfortably rotating two goalies. They kept Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge all season, with the pair ultimately winning the 1966 Vezina Trophy together.

New York Rangers
The early 1960s saw New York remain very much a one goalie team. They relied almost exclusively on Gump Worsley until the summer of 1963 when he was moved out in favour of Jacques Plante. The 1963/64 season saw the Rangers carry just one goalie in the legendary Jacques Plante. Plante played all but a few games when he was injured, with young Gilles Villemure picking up the slack for those few games Plante missed.
The 1964/65 season saw new management in New York and a new way of thinking. The two-goalie system was adopted at the start of the season, before the new rule was implemented.
Plante (L) and Paille (R)
 The 1964/65 Rangers dressed five goalies. They started the year with an injured Jaques Plante in minors playing with the Baltimore Clippers. Marcel Paille was Rangers starting goalie and Gilles Villemure traveled with the team as backup but never played. By November, due to an injury to Paille, Plante joined Rangers full time. Villemure travelled with the Rangers into November but was eventually sent to the Vancouver Canucks in the WHL when Paille was healthy enough to return. In the WHL, Villemure played 60 games that season as a starting goalies so when injuries struck again, Marcel Pelletier, another Rangers goalie, was recalled. Pelletier is listed as backup to Plante on November 11th, 1964. (6) Pelletier didn't spent much time with the Rangers that season and like Villemure, he never saw any official action between the pipes. December 22th, 1964 goalie Jean-Guy Morissette was acquired from by the Rangers and soon became the fifth netminder to be carried by the New York. March 7, 1965 Morissette is listed as backup to Marcel Paille. (7) Morissette had been recalled from Baltimore because Plante injured his knee. It’s possible that Morrissette was carried as New York's backup for a number of games until Plante could return.
The 1965/66 Rangers moved away from Plante and Paille but carried two of a trio of goaltenders in Ed Giacomin, Don Simmons and Cesare Maniago.

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the first teams to implement a two goalie system. It was during the 1958/59 season that Toronto decided to go with both Johnny Bower and Ed Chadwick. The move was questioned by some and lauded by others. The case gives an interesting view into the thinking behind bringing in a second goaltender.
An article from The Star reveals that the move was questioned by some. "An amazing number of people profess to think Chadwick is lucky. Pay day comes around just the same as if he were risking his neck three times per week in a highly hazardous profession. He makes all the out-of-town trips; stays at the best hotels, and eats in the posh dining halls."(4) While it might seem odd for us today that a team would carry a single goalie, it was highly unusual at the time. As explained in the Toronto Star, even Chadwick was questioning the move...
“I think I would even go to the minor leagues, if the Leafs asked me,” big Ed admitted yesterday. “That might be the best way to win back my job here in Toronto. I can’t do it while I’m sitting in the stands. An athlete must get actual competition to keep his confidence. Practice isn’t the same. The way I always look at practice is that it’s something you do because you want to be sharp for the game which is coming up. When you know there won’t be any game, then practice loses its meaning. Sometimes I feel I have to beat myself into putting my heart into the workouts. I never felt that way when I was playing.” (4)
The case exemplified another problem with a league not yet ready to adopt a two-goalie system. As noted at the time, "Chadwick apparently has no minor league clause in his contract. Leafs would be stuck with the difference in the two pay scales. But they're paying him the full rate now, while his market value slumps because of idleness."(4)
The Chadwick/Bower experiment lasted only one season before Toronto reverted back to the traditional one goalie system. However, just a couple years later, during the early 1960s, Toronto again adopted the practice of carrying a secondary goalie. The aging Johnny Bower needed rest days. Don Simmons, a very capable goalie, was carried as his #2 for most of this time but Bower was still Toronto's clear #1 goalie. In 1964, the Leafs acquired Sawchuk to share duties with Bower.
During the 1964/65 season, Toronto carried Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk all season and were thus unaffected by the rule change. The team had carried Don Simmons all season the year before, but he was seldom used. Bower and Sawchuk split the season and playoffs almost evenly.  It appears the legendary netminders, perhaps due to the evenly shared workload, stayed healthy all season and were the only netminders the Leafs needed to carry. They played admirably and brought home the Vezina Trophy. It was the first time in history that the award, around since the 1920s, was awarded to a goaltending tandem. Because the Leafs had so successfully adopted the two goalie system, it likely eased the league wide acceptance of the practice.
The Leafs stuck with their aging tandem of Hall of Famers for another couple seasons and in 1967 the pair famously won Toronto their last Stanley Cup.
Bower (L) & Sawchuk (R), 1964/65 Vezina Winners

Works Cited
(1) http://ourhistory.canadiens.com/rules/1951-1970  &
(3) http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/the-inside-story-on-the-oddity-that-is-the-emergency-backup-goalie-and-why-it-could-soon-change
(6) http://www.flyershistory.com/cgi-bin/ppoboxscore.cgi?H19640037
(7) http://www.flyershistory.com/cgi-bin/ppoboxscore.cgi?H19640185

(8) http://www.flyershistory.com/cgi-bin/ppoboxscore.cgi?H19640063 & http://www.flyershistory.com/cgi-bin/ppoboxscore.cgi?H19640083
(9) https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/98897987/

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