From the archives: Hall's streak much longer than known
This story was originally published on Jan. 31, 2011
MONTREAL — Five-oh-two, the record book has read since 1962. Five-fifty-two, including playoffs.
And then last week, from his farm in rural Alberta, Hall of Famer Glenn Hall casually floated an unfathomable number.
"One thousand and twenty-four."
We'll come back to the arithmeticof Mr. Goalie, who yesterday might or might not have tuned into the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, N.C.
Hall knows a thing or two about this mostly annual affair, having played in 13 of them from his rookie season in 1955-56 with Detroit through his NHL twilight in 1968-69, with St. Louis.
Surely, the 79-year-old Chicago Blackhawks legend was asked, this exercise was a little more intense in his day?
"Well, nobody liked anybody, eh?" Hall said, chuckling. "Especially when the all-stars played against the Stanley Cup winner (before the season had begun). That created a better situation for good, tough hockey.
"I played it as intensely as I did any league or playoff game. It was important to play well. It wasn't a fun deal, it was a working day. But it was nice sitting with guys you didn't like to play against, and to learn what great guys they were when you played with them."
Forty years after his retirement, Hall still holds four All-Star Game goaltending records. Of the 102 men who have faced a few or a flurry of pucks in these exhibitions, he ranks first for his 13 games played, nine consecutive appearances, 540:16 minutes of action and four victories.
Hall recalls his first, played at the Olympia with Detroit on Oct. 2, 1955 as he prepared to embark on his first full NHL season. Only nine members of the defending champion Red Wings still wore the winged wheel, new Bruins goaler Terry Sawchuk crouched in the far net as one of the Wings shipped out by trade.
"I simply played my first All-Star Game because I was there," Hall said. "Detroit needed a goalkeeper and I was it."
He indeed made the most of the chance, yielding a single goal to the Canadiens' Doug Harvey on 30 shots from players who had combined to score more than 300 times the previous season.
It was almost fitting that Harvey would score the first All-Star Game goal on Hall. The defenceman had also scored the first NHL goal allowed by the 21-year-old native of Humboldt, Sask., in his maiden NHL game for Detroit three years earlier, a 2-2 tie in emergency relief of an injured Sawchuk.
Hall played in borrowed equipment and ill-sharpened skates on Dec. 27, 1952, his own gear lost between Saskatoon and the Montreal Forum, and he still regrets the 1952 Harvey goal that he's frozen in depressing detail.
"It didn't happen last week, but I remember I got such a good piece of it," he recalled. "Boy oh boy, I should have stopped it."
He beat himself up over it that night, too.
"Hall caught the puck but was off-balance and it dropped out of his hand and rolled into the net as he fell backward," The Gazette's Dink Carroll wrote. "He felt worse than anyone in the rink. He lay flat on his face, beating the ice with his hands in a gesture of contrition."
Hall would play seven of his 13 All-Star Games at the Forum, four in Toronto and one each in Detroit and Chicago.
Of the 22 goals he surrendered, compiling an impressive 2.44 average against many high-powered Cupchampion teams, he gave up three each to the Canadiens' Maurice Richard and Toronto/ Detroit forward Frank Mahovlich. Henri Richard had a pair, with 10 Canadiens scoring singles.
Hall was delighted -no, he's thrilled -when told that Jean Beliveau beat him only once in six games.
"Just don't tell me Jean's record against me in league play," he said.
A few All-Star Games stand out, the list topped by the three-minute, rafter-rattling standing ovation at Chicago Stadium on Oct. 7, 1961 that nearly reduced the goalie to tears.
Hall had led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup six months earlier, a title they'd not win again until last spring. He blanked the Canadiens in consecutive semifinal games to eliminate Montreal in six games, then shut down the Red Wings in a six-game final, recording a glittering 2.02 playoff average.
"The (all-star) ovation went on too long for me to be comfortable," Hall said, having been dealt by Detroit to Chicago with Ted Lindsay in the summer of 1957. "It was tremendously complimentary, which I absolutely appreciated. The fans in the stadium were unbelievable."
There was 1956 at the Forum, a 1-1 tie with the Cupwinning Canadiens in which he was named second star for his 21 saves in a half-game's work that included brilliant third-period thievery of the Rocket, Bernie Geoffrion, Dickie Moore and Floyd Curry.
Then 1960, a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens that's believed to be perhaps the best all-star contest ever played. Hall made a half-dozen impossible late-game saves that left Forum fans awestruck.
In 1965, he turned away 39 Canadiens shots in a 5-2 Forum win, a game famous for Habs coach Toe Blake rotating goalies Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge every five minutes the entire match.
And Hall's second-last appearance, at Toronto in 1968. There wasn't much about hockey he was enjoying by then, calling every game "an hour or so of hell." Thirteen saves in his 20 minutes led fellow goaler Eddie Giacomin of the New York Rangers to say: "That guy is unbelievable. It's his hands, his reactions ... he's the best."
Said Scotty Bowman, Hall's St. Louis Blues coach: "I've yet to see anybody better."
Hall won the 1956 Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, the '61 Stanley Cup, '68 Conn Smythe as the playoffs' MVP and was a threetime winner or co-recipient of the Vezina for goaltending excellence.
Six times from 1955-69, he had the league's best goals-against, five times the best save percentage. On the computer ranking of Goalies' World magazine, he was No. 1 overall six times.
Yet it is for Hall's untouchable NHL-record streak of 502 consecutive games played -552, including playoffs -that he is renowned.
If only those numbers told the whole story.
Hall says that 502/552 is a statistic of which he's fiercely proud. But then in our chat he dropped this bomb, dramatically adding to his lore with a personal ledger that charts his career:
In junior and minor pro, Hall says he didn't miss a single game, including matches that don't exist in the sketchy record-keeping of the 1940s and '50s.
So he adds his consecutive junior and minor-pro matches, including playoffs, to his NHL iron man streak, and arrives at 1,024 games.
Four decades after his retirement, Hall has quietly clarified his personal history that already was breathtaking.
"I've not talked about this because we're not looking for numbers," he said. "But that's a big number, eh?
"And the glory of it was just playing a bunch of games. Win or lose."
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