As we await the Habs’ obliteration of the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, I thought I would give a brief intermission look at a friendly, popular, and important member of the Montreal Canadiens from days gone by.
The photo above shows early 1950’s Habs’ goaltender Gerry McNeil playing for his St. Fidele bantam team in Limolou, Quebec circa 1939. That’s him in the Canadiens sweater wearing the pads.
Gerry McNeil began his career in the late 1940’s as a backup goaltender behind the legendary Bill Durnan, but when Durnan retired due to nerves in 1950, McNeil became the number one goalie and stayed that way until Jacques Plante took over in 1954.
McNeil was in the nets when Bill Barilko scored his famous overtime goal for the Leafs in 1951, which you can see in the clip below, and is part of one of the most famous hockey photographs of all time, the Barilko goal. But I’m sure the Habs goalie, who passed away in 2004 at age 78, would have preferred his historic photo to be under different circumstances.
(Below the video is the famous Barilko photo which I know most of you have already seen but I feel I’d be remiss in not including it).