For seven years, between 1943 and 1950, Bill Durnan was Montreal’s star goalie. He was such a great goalie, and also such a great team player, that by the end of the 1940’s he was even wearing the captain’s ‘C’, which, of course, is quite unusual. And he was also ambidextrous and wore a sort of combined catching glove and stick glove on both hands.
Durnan retired in 1950, claiming his nerves were shot, which opened the door for his backup goalie, Gerry McNeil. McNeil had been around since 1943 but never got a real chance until Durnan retired. McNeil was in goal the night Toronto’s Bll Barilko scored the Leafs’ famous Stanley Cup winning goal in 1951. (Barilko would die later that summer in a Northern Ontario plane crash.)
McNeil tended goal for Montreal until the mid-fifties, when his backup goalie, Jacques Plante, took over.
So Bill Durnan begat Gerry McNeil, who begat Jacques Plante, who begat Charlie Hodge, who begat Gump Worsley. And then Ken Dryden appeared like a gift from God, and Patrick Roy followed several years after that.
And now we’re at Carey Price. Ain’t life grand?