|6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
175 lb (80 kg)
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs
Edmonton Oilers (WHA)
|Born||January 17, 1929,|
|Died||February 27, 1986 (age 57),|
|Pro Career||1952 – 1975|
|Hall of Fame, 1978|
Joseph Jacques Omer "Jake the Snake" Plante (January 17, 1929 – February 27, 1986) was a Canadian professional goaltender. He grew up in Shawinigan, Quebec, and began to play hockey in 1932, becoming a goaltender at young age since his asthma impaired his skating ability. Plante started to play organized hockey at age 12, and his first professional game was at age 18. He played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1953 to 1963; during his tenure, the team won the Stanley Cup six times, including five consecutive wins. He was then traded to the New York Rangers for whom he played for two seasons - 1963-64 and 1964-65.
Plante first retired in 1965, but was persuaded to return to the NHL to play for the expansion St. Louis Blues in 1968. He was later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1970, and to the Boston Bruins in 1973. He joined the World Hockey Association, first as coach and general manager for the Quebec Nordiques in 1973–74. He then played goal for the Edmonton Oilers in 1974–75, ending his professional career with that team.
Plante is considered one of the most important innovators in hockey. Most notably, Plante was the first NHL goaltender to wear a goaltender mask in regulation play on a regular basis. With the assistance of other experts, he developed and tested many versions of the goaltender mask, including the forerunner of today's mask/helmet combination. Plante was the first goaltender to regularly play the puck outside his crease in support of his team's defencemen, and often instructed his teammates from behind the play, as the goaltender usually has the best view of the game.
Plante was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978, was chosen as the goaltender of the Canadiens' "dream team" in 1985. The Montreal Canadiens retired Plante's jersey, #1, the following year.
He died in Geneva, on February 27, 1986, shortly after he had been diagnosed with untreatable stomach cancer. He was buried in Sierre.
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Plante was born on January 17, 1929 on a farm near Mont Carmel, Quebec, the first of 11 children. The family moved to Shawinigan, Quebec. In 1932, Plante began to play hockey, skateless and with a tennis ball, using a goaltender's hockey stick his father had carved from a tree root. When he was five years old, Plante fell off a ladder and broke his hand; the fracture failed to heal properly and affected his playing style during his early hockey career; he underwent successful corrective surgery as an adult. Plante suffered from asthma starting in early childhood, which prevented him from skating for extended periods; because of this, he naturally gravitated to playing goaltender. As his playing progressed, Jacques received his first regulation goaltender's stick for Christmas of 1936.
Plante's first foray into organized hockey came at age 12. He was watching his school's team practice, when the coach ordered the goaltender off the ice after a heated argument over his play, and Plante asked to replace him. The coach permitted him to play since there was no other available goaltender; it quickly became apparent that Plante could hold his own, despite the other players being many years older than him. He impressed the coach and stayed on as the team's number one goaltender.
Two years later, Plante was playing for five different teams, including the local factory team, and teams in the midget, juvenile, junior and intermediate categories. After being told by his father that the rest of the players on the factory team were being paid because they were company employees, Plante decided to demand a salary from the team's coach; the coach paid Plante 50 cents per game to retain him and so the team's popularity. Afterwards, Plante began to receive various offers from other teams; he was offered $80 a week—a considerable sum in those day—to play for a team in England, and a similar sum to play for the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League. However, Plante passed up these offers; his parents wanted him to finish high school, and he graduated with top honours in 1947. Upon graduation, he took a job as a clerk in a Shawinigan factory. A few weeks later, the Quebec Citadelles offered Plante $85 a week to play for them; he accepted, marking the beginning of his professional career.
Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Minor Leagues[edit | edit source]
Jacques joined the Quebec Citadelles in 1947. It was while playing for the Citadelles that Plante started to play the puck outside of his crease. He developed this technique when he recognized that the team's defense corps was performing poorly. Fans found Plante's unconventional playing style to be exciting, but it angered his managers, who believed that a goaltender should stay in net and let his players recover the puck. Plante had come to the conclusion that as long he was in control of the puck, the opponent could not shoot it at him. This is standard practice for goaltenders today. The same season, the Citadelles beat the Montreal Junior Canadiens in the Quebec Junior Hockey League finals, with Plante being named most valuable player on his team. The Montreal Canadiens' general manager, Frank Selke, was now interested in acquiring Plante. In 1948, Plante received an invitation to the Canadiens' training camp. On August 17, 1949, Selke offered Plante a contract with the Canadiens' organization. Plante played for Montreal's affiliate Montreal Royals, earning $4,500 for the season, and an extra $500 for practising with the big club.
In January 1953, Plante was called up to play for the Montreal Canadiens. Bill Durnan, the goaltender who played for Montreal when Plante first began, had retired, and Gerry McNeil—the top goaltender for the Canadiens—had fractured his jaw. Plante played for three games, but in that short time, he failed to escape controversy. The Canadiens' coach Dick Irvin, Sr. did not wish his players to stand out by any addition to their regular uniforms. Plante always wore one of his tuques while playing hockey, and after an argument with Irvin, all of Plante's tuques had vanished from the Montreal locker room. Even without that good luck charm, Plante gave up only four goals in the three games he played, all of them wins.
At the end of 1952, Plante was very successful with the Montreal Royals. However, Selke had to sign Plante to a professional contract and move him from the amateur Royals. The reason was that NHL rules stated that Plante would have been subject to being drafted by another NHL team if he had not signed a pro contract. Plante was then assigned to the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL.
Later during the 1952–53 NHL season, Plante played for the Canadiens in the playoffs against the Chicago Black Hawks. He won his first playoff game with a shutout. Montreal won that series—and eventually the Stanley Cup and Plante's name was engraved on the Cup for the first time.
On February 12, 1954, Plante was called up to the Canadiens and established himself as their starting goaltender.
Five Straight Stanley Cups[edit | edit source]
By the end of the 1953–54 NHL season, Plante was well-entrenched within the NHL. In the spring of 1954, he underwent surgery to correct his left hand, which he had broken in his childhood. The operation was successful.
For the 1955–56 season, Plante was the unchallenged primary goaltender of the Canadiens; Gerry McNeil had not played the previous season, and as a result he was sent to the Montreal Royals; Charlie Hodge, Plante's backup the previous season, was sent to a Canadiens' farm team in Seattle. Later that season, Montreal won the Stanley Cup—the first win in five successive seasons. The next season, Plante missed most of November due to chronic bronchitis, a product of the asthma that had affected him since childhood. During the 1957–58 NHL season, the Canadiens won their third straight Stanley Cup despite injuries to Plante and other members of team. Plante's asthma was getting worse, and he sustained a concussion with just a few weeks left in the season; as a result, missed three games of the playoffs. In the sixth game of the Stanley Cup finals, Plante's asthma was making him dizzy, and he was having difficulty concentrating; he collapsed at the end of the game, after teammate Doug Harvey scored the series-winning goal. The Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup again at the close of the 1958–59 season.
During the 1959–60 NHL season, Plante introduced the goaltender mask into a regular game. While Plante had previously used his mask in practice to avoid getting injured, starting in 1956, after missing 13 games due to sinusitis, his coach, Toe Blake did not permit him to wear it during regulation play. However, on November 1, 1959, Plante's nose was broken when he was hit by a shot fired by Andy Bathgate, three minutes into the game against the New York Rangers, and he was taken to the dressing room for stitches. When he returned, he was wearing the crude home-made goaltender mask that he had been using in practices. His coach was livid, but he had no other goaltender to call upon and Plante refused to return to the goal unless he wore the mask. Blake agreed on the condition that Plante discard the mask when the cut healed. The Canadiens won the game 3–1. In the ensuing days Plante refused to discard the mask, and as the Canadiens continued to win, Blake was less vocal about it. The unbeaten streak stretched to 18 games. Plante did not wear the mask, at Blake's request, against Detroit on March 8, 1960; the Canadiens lost 3–0, and the mask returned for good the next night. That year the Canadiens won their fifth straight Stanley Cup, which proved to be Plante's last.
Plante subsequently designed his own mask, and masks for other goaltenders. He was not the first NHL goaltender known to wear a face mask, as Montreal Maroons' Clint Benedict wore a crude leather version in 1929 to protect a broken nose, but Plante introduced the mask as everyday equipment; the mask is now mandatory for goaltenders.
Trade to New York and First Retirement[edit | edit source]
During the 1960–61 NHL season, hampered by pain in his left knee, Plante was sent down to the Eastern Professional Hockey League's Montreal Royals. He was later found to have torn cartilage in his knee causing the terrible pain; the knee was surgically repaired during the summer of 1961.The next season, Plante became only the fourth goaltender to win the Hart Memorial Trophy; he won the Vezina Trophy for the sixth time, as well. The 1962–63 season was unsettled for Plante. His asthma had worsened, and he missed most of the early season; relations with his coach, Toe Blake, continued to deteriorate due to Plante's persistent health problems. Later, Plante was at the center of a major controversy when he claimed that net sizes in the NHL were not uniform, thus giving a statistical advantage to goaltenders playing for the Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers. His claim was later confirmed to be true, and was the result of a manufacturing error.
After the Canadiens were eliminated for the third straight year in the first round of playoffs in the spring of 1963, there was mounting pressure for change from their fans and media. There was growing tension between Plante and his coach, Toe Blake, because of Plante's inconsistent work ethic and demeanor, and Blake declared that for the 1963–64 season, either he or Plante must go. On June 4, 1963, Plante was traded to the New York Rangers, with Phil Goyette and Don Marshall in exchange for Gump Worsley, Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort, and Len Ronson. Plante played for the Rangers for one full season and part of a second. He retired in 1965, while playing for the minor-league Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League. At that time, his wife was ill, and he required surgery on his right knee.
On retirement, Plante took a job with Molson Brewery as a sales representative, but remained active in the NHL. In 1965, Scotty Bowman asked Plante to play for the Montreal Junior Canadiens in a game against the Soviet National Team. Honoured to represent his country, Plante agreed, and after receiving permission from both Rangers who owned his rights, and Molson, he began practising. The Canadiens won 2–1, and Plante was named first star of the game.
NHL Comeback[edit | edit source]
At the beginning of the 1967–68 NHL season, Plante received a call from his ex-teammate Bert Olmstead seeking some help coaching the expansion Oakland Seals. Plante coached mainly by example, and after the three-week training camp he returned home to Montreal.
In June 1968, Plante was drafted by the St. Louis Blues. He signed for $35,000 for the 1968–69 NHL season. In that first season with the Blues, Plante split the goaltending duties with Glenn Hall, and went on to win the Vezina Trophy for the seventh time, passing Bill Durnan's record. While playing for the Blues in Game 1 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, a shot redirected by Phil Esposito hit Plante in the forehead, knocking him out and breaking his fibreglass mask. That game proved to be his last for the Blues, and he was traded in the summer of 1970 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He led the NHL with the lowest goals against average (GAA) during his first season with the Maple Leafs. At season's end, he was named to the NHL's Second All-Star team, his seventh such honour. He continued to play for the Leafs until he was traded to the Boston Bruins late in the 1972–73 season. He played eight regular season and two playoff games for the Bruins to finish the season, his last in the NHL.
Plante accepted a $10 million, 10-year contract to become coach and general manager of the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association in 1973. He was highly dissatisfied with his and his team's performance, and resigned at the end of the 1973–74 season. Coming out of retirement once more, Plante played 31 games for the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA in the 1974–75 season. Plante retired during the Oilers' training camp in 1975–76 after receiving news that his youngest son had died.
Retirement and Death[edit | edit source]
Plante finally retired from hockey in 1975, after the death of his youngest son. He moved to Switzerland with his second wife, Raymonde Udrisard, but remained active on the North American hockey scene as an analyst, adviser and goaltender trainer. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978. In the fall of 1985, Plante was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. He died in a Geneva hospital in February 1986 and was buried in Sierre, Switzerland. When his coffin was carried from the church following the funeral mass, it passed under an arch of hockey sticks held high by a team of young hockey players from Quebec, visiting Switzerland for a tournament.
Career Statistics[edit | edit source]
Regular Season[edit | edit source]
|1963–64||New York Rangers||NHL||65||22||36||7||3900||220||3||3.38|
|1964–65||New York Rangers||NHL||33||10||17||5||1938||109||2||3.37|
|1968–69||St. Louis Blues||NHL||37||18||12||6||2139||70||5||1.96|
|1969–70||St. Louis Blues||NHL||32||18||9||5||1839||67||5||2.19|
|1970–71||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||40||24||11||4||2329||73||4||1.88|
|1971–72||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||34||16||13||5||1965||86||2||2.63|
|1972–73||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||32||8||14||6||1717||87||1||3.04|
|NHL career totals||837||434||247||146||49533||1965||82||2.38|
|WHA career totals||31||15||14||1||1592||88||1||3.32|
Post season[edit | edit source]
|1968–69||St. Louis Blues||NHL||10||8||2||0||589||14||3||1.43|
|1969–70||St. Louis Blues||NHL||6||4||1||0||324||8||1||1.48|
|1970–71||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||3||0||2||0||134||7||0||3.13|
|1971–72||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||1||0||1||0||60||5||0||5.00|
|NHL career totals||112||71||37||0||6652||240||14||2.16|
Awards and Honours[edit | edit source]
|Vezina Trophy||1955–56 NHL season|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star First Team||1955–56 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1956|
|Vezina Trophy||1956–57 NHL season|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star Second Team||1956–57 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1957|
|Vezina Trophy||1957–58 NHL season|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star Second Team||1957–58 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1958|
|Vezina Trophy||1958–59 NHL season|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star First Team||1958–59 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1959|
|Vezina Trophy||1959–60 NHL season|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star Second Team||1959–60 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1960|
|Hart Memorial Trophy||1961–62 NHL season|
|Vezina Trophy||1961–62 NHL season|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star First Team||1961–62 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1962|
|Shared (with Glenn Hall) Vezina Trophy||1968–69 NHL season|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1969|
|Played in National Hockey League All-Star Game||1970|
|Selected to National Hockey League All-Star Second Team||1970–71 NHL season|
|Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame||1978|
|Selected to the Canada Sports Hall of Fame||1981|
Gallery[edit | edit source]
|Winner of the Hart Trophy
|Winner of the Vezina Trophy
1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960
|Winner of the Vezina Trophy
and Gump Worsley
|Winner of the Vezina Trophy
with Glenn Hall
References[edit | edit source]
- Plante, R., pg. 15
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Jacques Plante. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).|