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Hall: Make goalie equipment smaller

Hall of Fame goalie weighs in on bigger pads, beer and why he never smiled on his hockey cards

by Dave Stubbs @dave_stubbs / Columnist

STONY PLAIN, Alberta - visited this week with Hockey Hall of Fame member Glenn Hall, one of the greatest goaltenders in history. He weighed in on a variety of subjects:

On the equipment he wore during his career, from 1955-71: "We questioned the quality of the equipment. It was made more for the kids than for adults. There was no beer league in those days. They just made it a little bigger. It kind of bothers me today to see the equipment they're using. It's not for protection, but rather for stopping the puck. The goalie shouldn't have an advantage. I used to glove as many pucks as I could because it didn't hurt as much.

"I only got new pads for the playoffs when they were going to take the team picture. Your pads were absolutely worn out when you got the new ones. You'd use them in the playoffs and they weren't even broken in. You'd use them in training camp and you'd be swimming - most of the ice had water on it - so you'd wear them out in training camp. That was another reason not to go to training camp. It wasn't just the stupid slap shots they had.

"I've said that they should make the equipment smaller, I've said that for years. Don't take any protection away from the equipment. But you see the goalkeeper on the ice and he looks like he's 300 pounds. You see him after, coming out of the dressing room, and here's this little 90-pounder, and you wonder how he could carry all that."

On practices: "I loved them, until I quit learning something. We'd scrimmage, which I don't think they do now. In scrimmages, you'd learn something, eh? Now, all I see is practice being a conditioning thing."

On preparation: "I had to punish myself to play well. I forced myself to play well. I've always said that playing well isn't an accident. It's preparation. It's a bunch of things. If I was whistling and humming, and that didn't happen often, I knew I wouldn't play well. You absolutely forced yourself to play well."

On his being sick to his stomach before every game:  "I wanted to be hyper. Some people say, 'His bucket should be retired.' Of all the things, to even think that you'd throw up in a bucket in the dressing room. … You'd walk to the bathroom, take a drink of water, kind of throw it out, gag a few times and you were ready to play. And it was fun."

On his legendary May 10, 1970 photo with Bobby Orr, the Boston Bruins defenseman, flying through the air after having scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime

"I've told Bobby, 'I was showered before you landed.' He was up there a long time. But what a great hockey player. I have him that far (finger and thumb half an inch apart) from being my No. 1. But I've got Gordie Howe being the greatest player I've ever seen."

On whether it was a coincidence Gordie Howe and Jean Béliveau retired in 1971, the same year he hung up his pads:

"I think they knew I was retiring, so that prompted them to quit. They thought it wasn't going to be any fun. Jean was the only player who ever said, 'Good save, Glenn.' He was class all over."

On why he didn't often smile in his hockey-card photos: "They'd take 'em at training camp, outdoors, after you'd spent a hot morning swimming in the rink, trying to stay alive, guys firing pucks at your head. They'd say, 'C'mon, smile,' and I'd say, 'Smile? Are you [kidding] me?' "

On his enduring popularity: "I get a lot of mail from the Czech Republic, Sweden, more from the U.S. Many put stamps on their return envelopes, from where they're mailing. That stamp is no good here. I've got a washtub full downstairs. … I should send them but it's like sending a dollar out to somebody you don't know. I've got all the dollars I need, but I don't need many, eh?"

On his affection for beer: "When I get old, I'm going to quit drinking. Really, I am. So many of my teammates and friends, they quit drinking when they got old. But they were old they were 50. I'm not old yet."

On the weight problem former Blackhawks teammate Elmer "Moose" Vasko forever battled: "Moose weighed 222 pounds only one time, and that was on the way up. He'd get his hair and fingernails cut before his weigh-in and he'd only step on the scale after a deep exhale."

On finishing ahead of Black Hawks teammate Al MacNeil, a defenseman, in the 1965-66 scoring race: "I had two assists and Al had none, and I reminded him of this often during the season. Al said, 'I'll catch you if I have a good second half and stay healthy.' At the end of the year, I have two assists and he has one. So Al announces, 'I know how that happened. Hall played all the power plays.' "

On his personal museum in the basement of his home, reminders of his career all around: "Pauline [his late wife] talked about all the junk I had and she said, 'I don't see my apron hanging down there.' And you know, it should be."

On dear friend and goaltending lodge brother Johnny Bower's loss of a mouthful of teeth during a game in the minors: "I later told him, 'John, I think you lost seven teeth one night with Cleveland,' and his wife, Nancy, piped up, 'It was nine.' So I told him, 'Well, no wonder it took you so long to get back out there that night. But if there were nine teeth laying on the ice, John, I'm glad they were in your end.' "

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