Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider were not the only Canucks goalies in Rogers Arena on Saturday, November 20th. While fans were less than excited about the outcome of Saturday’s game against Chicago, many were thrilled to meet former Canucks goalie Cesare Maniago as he signed autographs before the game.
Maniago greeted fans of all ages outside section 112 on the Level 100 concourse. The Trail, BC native offered advice to pint-size goalies just getting started in the game he played for so many years. More than once, Maniago was told he still looks just like his photo from the 70’s, despite receiving some 400 stitches to his face throughout his career.
Maniago got his start in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs before getting picked up by the Montreal Canadians in the 1961 inter-league draft. He spent many years in the minors honing his skills and got his big break when the league expanded in 1967. Expansion was necessary because there were so many NHL caliber players, such as Maniago, playing in the minors. He was the first draft pick of the newly formed Minnesota North Stars and spent the next 10 years between the pipes for them. In 1976, Maniago was traded to the Canucks, where he played his final two seasons. Maniago made the most of those two years, earning back-to-back Cyclone Taylor Trophies.
Maniago is living history of the evolution of hockey. He began his career during an era when goalies were allowed to cross over centre ice and discouraged from wearing masks. The former goalie recalled one incident when he joined the rush and made it to the other team’s blue line. He got a shot off and was one post away from becoming the first goalie to score a goal before being taken down by an opposing defender. Maniago is an active member of the Canucks Alumni and well deserving of his nickname, “Hail Cesare.”