Various photos of hockey goalies from The SPORT Gallery

Under Pressure: Hockey's Netminders

Hockey is an intense sport. As spectators we’ve become accustomed to the nature of the game itself – so much so that we soon forget the risks involved during each 60 minutes of play. The truth is, much respect is in order for the men and women who can play the sport and appear to do so with ease. Not only can these individuals take checks, dodge pucks, and endure injury – they do all of this in front of crowds that are always hungry for a win. As a hockey player, being under pressure comes with the territory.

Some would argue that goaltenders carry the most weight on their shoulders. During the 1963 season, SPORT Magazine journalist Dave Anderson got to sit down with Gump Worsley, Johnny Bower, Jacques Plante, and Glenn Hall to discuss the hazards of their job. Here is a bit of what each goalie shared:

There’s a lot of pressure on a goalkeeper in a close game. The goalie is the backbone of the club and if we make a mistake, we’ve had it. – Bower, page 24

It’s a natural gift a goaltender has, as far as I’m concerned. You learn things as you go along from your own mistakes. You just improve with age. Some of it is luck, too. You’re standing there and the guy shoots and you look in your glove and it’s there. It’s a crazy way to make a living. – Worsley, page 68

[…] now that I have the mask I wouldn’t play without it. Until you have a broken cheekbone – cuts don’t mean anything – you don’t realize it. But the feeling you get when you have a bone broken, you take it home with you and you’re in the hospital and you say to yourself, ‘I’m never going to play again.’ Then, two weeks later, you want to go back and you’re out there again. – Plante, page 70

There’s one guy in the league – I’m not going to mention his name – he’ll come in wide and you’re standing right at the crease and he’ll run into you and carry you out of the net. He does it to me all the time… My theory is that if I get hit, I can go out and play ten games because I’m not going to get hit back-to-back. The percentage. – Hall, page 70

Excerpts from the article “A Crazy Way to Make a Living,” as published in the March, 1963 issue of SPORT Magazine.

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