Don’t bother me kid, it’s game day …

... and other stories about the uniqueness of the hockey goaltender

Eddie Lack, here with Carolina, has seen a lot in his career, including having a goaltending teammate who actually threw up in the net during a game. Photo: Carolina Hurricanes Archives,

Stories about goalies being a touch unusual are not just part of hockey folklore, they are very much a reality throughout the game’s past and present. 

Eddie Lack has one you may have never heard. 

The former NHLer with four teams remembers a goalie partner in the minors who would vomit in the crease in the middle of a game during play. 

“That guy always just threw up. He always threw up,” said Lack over a Zoom call from Arizona, where he is now an assistant coach with the Arizona State men’s varsity hockey team. “I saw him a few times during the game and during play basically and he just turned toward the inside of his net and threw up inside the net. 

“They (maintenance crew) didn’t do anything, they left it there all game.” 

Murray Bannerman, another former NHL goaltender played with a partner in the International League who would also throw up before every game without fail, so much to the point where it became routine. 

“To be honest with you, I think (throwing up) just became part of his preparation,” says Bannerman, over the phone from Atlanta, where he now works as the Senior Vice-President Sales for the North American based transportation company, Traffic Tech. 

Despite the obvious age gap between goaltenders from different eras, goalies always seem to have the reputation of being odd.

“I don’t think goalies are crazy, but I do think that goalies get a bad reputation with the rest of the team,” says Lack. “I think there are definitely some goalies out there who give the rest of us a bad rep.” 

Bannerman sees it as beneficial. 

“The line that I like to use is that you don’t have to be crazy to play goal, but it certainly helps.”

Murray Bannerman in his early playing days with the Vancouver Canucks. PHOTO: VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Damian Rhodes played nine seasons in the National League with Toronto, Ottawa, and Atlanta, and now lives in Cleveland. He has a self-deprecating view.

“I do think they are crazy, and I think as I get older, I get more immature,” he said. “Well obviously to get into that position when you are young and to want to be in that position, you’ve got to have a screw loose, ’cause you’re pretty much the hero or the goat most of the time.” 

One only has to look at hockey history to see that anecdotes about goaltenders are everywhere and have occurred during multiple eras.

  • Hall of Famer Tony Esposito (who played 17 seasons, mostly with Chicago, was so intense, he was unapproachable the day of a game. Even his immediate family knew not to bother him.
  • Another Hall of Famer, Glenn Hall, was a famous upchucker. But in addition, when playing for Chicago, he would wrestle with trainer, Don “Sockeye” Uren in the dressing before every game. “We’d clear the dressing room and go at it, hammer and tongs,” says Uren in an interview to Jim Barber for the book Great Goaltenders: Stars of Hockey’s Golden Age, “Anybody who saw us in there thought we were nuts. It was the only way we discovered to release Glenn’s tension.” 
  • Rhodes himself dyed his hair blond for about a month during one season he played in Ottawa. The team was on a win streak during the playoffs and won the first round, so the goaltender kept it that way. Rhodes would also stay in a hotel for home playoff games in order to eliminate any possible distractions. 
  • Gilles Gratton, who famously “streaked” a Toronto Toros practice during his World Hockey Association days, amassed so many stories they filled an autobiography – Gratoony the Looney

However, despite the quirkiness of many goaltenders, they aren’t all crazy.

“Cory Schneider is the most normal goalie that I’ve ever played with, he is smart funny, and just gets along with everyone,” says Lack.

Rhodes points at a famous Toronto netminder.

“Felix (Potvin) was actually pretty normal, except he liked heavy metal music and speed metal, and he would hang out with bands,” says Rhodes, “Bad Religion is one band he would hang out with.” 

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Posted: Sep 18 2020 3:12 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports