Nov. 1, 1959: Jacques Plante makes history

Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Canadiens legend Jacques Plante wearing a mask into an NHL game, the first goaler to do so since Montreal Maroons’ Clint Benedict wore crude facial protection for a short-lived few games in 1930.

A Canadian Heritage minute telecast long ago celebrated the fact:



  1. Dave Stubbs says:

    Wonderful post, Peter. You’ve offered a fine primer on Jacques Plante the athlete and the man in just a few paragraphs.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  2. Peter Young says:

    During most of his playing career Jacques Plante was viewed as slightly crazy. Sometimes the press put it more diplomatically as “highly eccentric.” That was the way it was when he roamed behind the net to gain control of the loose puck. And then later when he not only stopped the puck for his teammate to pick up behind the net, but actually began skating with the puck himself, bringing it out from behind the net and distributing it to his teammates, becoming a third defenceman of sorts. A few years later, of course, every goaltender was doing the same thing.

    So it was with the mask. At worst he was viewed as nuts. At best he was deemed a coward. Or should that be the other way around? Toe Blake swore that Plante would not wear it regularly. He had only given in in New York, he said, because Plante refused to continue the game without the mask. It was a test of wills, and Plante won out, largely because he was the best goaltender there was and Blake knew it. A decade later, nearly all goaltenders wore masks.

    Plante did little to discourage the talk about his eccentricities, of course. He knitted toques to pass the time, he was quiet and he was a loner. But he had the force of will to change the way the game was played, and once he was convinced he was right, he did not care what others thought of him. He was a great player and a great innovator, and he had tremendous character.

    I grew up with the great teams of the Fifties on which Plante played. He was the first of the great stars of that era to pass away, in early 1986. It was a great shock to me, the first of my boyhood idols to die, a reminder of our mortality coming in a most unwelcome form. But Jacques will be remembered another 100 years from now as one of the great players and personalities of the game we love.

  3. Bradlo says:

    Another piece of interesting information, on this day in 1942 Maurice Richard played his first game wearing the CH.

  4. Andrew says:

    i can’t help but lol when i see these commercials.

  5. GHG33 says:

    Man that commercial is burned into my retna’s I think. CBC ran it all the time in my younger days. Not sure if they still air it or not.

    Its a great window into past times.

    Drive For 25 Is Alive!

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