This is an excerpt from the Glenn Hall Heritage Night edition of Blackhawks Magazine, the official game program of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Yes, the stories are true: Blackhawks Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall would often get sick to his stomach before games. But, unlike what you would probably expect, “Mr. Goalie” never got sick because of nerves.
“I simply felt better when I got sick before a game,” Hall explained in a 2002 interview with Legends of Hockey. “I think I put pressure on myself to play well to the point of where I threw up. Anything but a maximum effort was not permissible. So really, I forced myself into it.
“I didn’t like the game to be played poorly and I particularly hated to play the game poorly myself,” Hall told NHL.com in 2007. “It meant that I felt I was ready. I played better afterwards; I built myself up to a peak. It didn’t bother any of my teammates because they knew I was ready. It certainly didn’t deteriorate their game at all.
Hall’s ritualistic queasiness belied the strength of his game. The goaltender owns the National Hockey League record for consecutive games by a goalie (502) without ever wearing a facemask. Over the course of his career, Hall won 407 games; earned the 1956 Calder Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year; won three Vezina Trophies as the NHL’s best goaltender and a Stanley Cup ring. Pretty good for a guy who often “left it all out on the ice,” so to speak.
“To me, Glenn was the best goaltender of his generation, and maybe the best ever,” longtime teammate and friend Stan Mikita told Blackhawks Magazine. “Without Glenn Hall, our teams wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”
Although Hall never dreamed he could have a career in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings saw potential in the young goaltender after he attended a tryout camp in Saskatoon in 1951. Hall possessed obvious talent, but Detroit already had a strong goaltender in Terry Sawchuk. In an era where teams only carried one goalie, Hall couldn’t find a roster spot, and he appeared in only eight games with Detroit over four seasons when Sawchuk was out with injury.
But in 1955, Hall finally got his break. Sawchuk was traded to Boston in a nine-player deal that freed up his spot between the pipes. In 1955-56, Hall played all 70 games, recording 30 wins, 12 shutouts and earning the Calder Trophy as the league’s most outstanding rookie.
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