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NHL Centennial

Glenn Hall embraces allowing 'The Goal' to Bobby Orr

In famous photo of Bruins winning Stanley Cup against Blues in OT 47 years ago

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

It is a sorry fact of life for an elite goaltender that his most famous image almost surely will be not of him making a brilliant save, but of him having just given up a late-game or overtime goal of perhaps historic proportion.

There was the Montreal Canadiens' Gerry McNeil, for example, beaten by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Bill Barilko in overtime in Game 5 of the 1951 Stanley Cup Final to give the Maple Leafs the title.

Or Vladislav Tretiak of the Soviet Union, on his back with Team Canada's Paul Henderson wildly celebrating his last-minute third-period goal to decide the landmark 1972 Summit Series in Moscow.

And on May 10, 1970, at Boston Garden there was Glenn Hall, the St. Louis Blues goalie's left arm hooked over the crossbar for support as the puck exited the net at his skates, Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr sailing through the air in front of him, hollering in joy after having just scored 40 seconds into overtime of Game 4 to give the Bruins a sweep of the Stanley Cup Final.

"I had pictures of myself taken when I stopped the puck but they tore those things up, eh?" Hall, 85, said with a laugh, considering his role in Orr's dramatic goal 47 years ago. "That's not news, the goalkeeper stopping the puck. He's supposed to be letting it in."

The frozen image of "The Goal," so momentous that it has become a proper noun, was part of a three-shot sequence snapped by Ray Lussier, a veteran Boston photographer. Different angles were shot by others, but one of Lussier's photos became an instant classic, one of the greatest hockey pictures.

For Hall, then in the second-to-last year of an 18-season NHL career that would take him to the Hall of Fame, there was no shame in surrendering the Cup-winning goal to Orr. Nor does "Mr. Goalie" have any idea how many hundreds, even thousands, of prints of this historic photo he's signed over nearly a half-century.

"Is this the most famous photo of me? Yes, I think they've probably made it so," Hall said of hockey historians and memorabilia collectors.

And then the mischief in his voice grew thick.

"A lot of people don't know that Bobby Orr wasn't a slug," Hall said. "He was capable of scoring goals and he did things different than we thought defensemen should be doing. I'll tell you, he was a great, great player and he's a great, great person, as are all the top guys who represent the NHL so well.

"You can talk about the greatest players and I'll say that Bobby Orr is almost in a tie with Gordie Howe as the best," he said, adding Maurice Richard, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and a handful of others to his list of all-time legends.

Video: Ironman Glenn Hall started 502 straight games in goal

The Boston Garden ice was still wet when Orr cruised through the slot in front of the St. Louis net and took a pass from behind the net from Derek Sanderson, burying a quick one-timer between Hall's legs.

"Absolutely, I knew where Bobby was on the ice," Hall said. "And I was absolutely aware of the fact that the Bruins must have gone into their dressing room after the third period and said, 'Look, guys, we're supposed to be a great team and we're playing overtime against an expansion team?' Can you imagine?

"I'll tell you, if you were a goalkeeper and you didn't know where Bobby Orr was on the ice, you weren't paying attention. He was the whole focus. He played right defense and he was a left-hand shot. I mentioned that to him once and he was surprised that I'd noticed."

The goal light was still aglow behind him that May 10 when Hall grew comfortable with his place in Orr's historic moment, he says.

Soon after, he kidded the Bruins legend with a line he has happily used for decades. "Bobby, I was showered before you hit the ice," Hall told Orr, who had been tripped and sent flying by Blues defenseman Noel Picard an instant too late.

"I was just happy to get out of that miserable equipment," Hall said, laughing again. "I don't think I wanted to look at the photo the first time because I knew the result. When you make a good save, the photographers will say, 'That would have been great if the guy had scored.' But giving up that goal didn't bother me one little bit. We were playing a superstrong team, one that they were claiming was as good as any NHL team ever, and we're an expansion team, in overtime, against them. Well, boy, that's complimentary for the St. Louis Blues (in their third NHL season) at the time."

The photo still comes to Hall at his home in Stony Plain, Alberta, outside of Edmonton, for his signature, which is often to be added beside the Orr autograph that's already been inked.

There are other photos of himself that Hall enjoys more than this one, notably one of him in an almost impossibly deep crouch that appeared uncredited with a 1962 Sports Illustrated story. The photo became the cover image on the U.S. edition of his 2002 biography, "Glenn Hall: The Man They Call Mr. Goalie," by Tom Adrahtas.

"I like that photo as much as any other," said Hall, who without a mask, at great risk, pioneered the butterfly style and often dropped very low to see through the forest of legs in front of him.

"I'd stand on my tiptoes to look over players if that's what conditions required. I'd look underneath them or to the side, when you knew you were vulnerable on the other side. But you always had to realize, 'If I can see it, I can stop it.' "

Hall was masked in 1970 but had no chance when Orr made him a part of hockey lore.

This Stanley Cup Playoff season, "The Goal" lives on in two television commercials that "Mr. Goalie" says he enjoys immensely; it is included among the historic moments compiled in an NHL Centennial celebration ad and featured in a Scotiabank spot that airs during games on Canadian TV.

In the latter, a child's play-by-play description is blended with the real call of broadcaster Dan Kelly, with the boy who plays Orr diving into a pile of fishing net among lobster traps after scoring in a harbor-front game played on running shoes.

In 1996, Orr and Hall sat together in Boston during the NHL All-Star Game, Orr the honorary captain for the Eastern Conference, Hall in that role with the Western Conference.

"We were signing that photo, over and over again," Hall said. "I think I turned to him that day and said, 'Bobby, was this the only goal you ever scored?'

"You know, it might live forever. And that's fine with me."

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