(Image:By TGC Topps Gum Cards, via Wikimedia Commons)
Could you imagine working over 500 days before needing a sick day? That’s just what goalie Glenn Hall managed before a back injury forced him to pause. He had to leave his 503rd game on November 7, 1962 and then could not start what would have been his 504th straight game on November 10. His streak of 502 consecutive completed games stands as the longest for goaltenders (although just over half of Doug Jarvis’s 964-game streak).
Glenn Hall got his NHL start with the Detroit Red Wings (as backup goalie for the playoffs) during the 1952-53 season and began his streak with the first game of the 1955-56 season, when he succeeded Terry Sawchuk. He did not just play every game, he played them so well he won the Calder Trophy as best rookie (for his 2.10 goals-against average). Detroit traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957, a time when he considered Chicago “hockey Siberia.” Apparently, his new teammates called him “Mr. Goulie” for how pale he looked after throwing up before the games. Of that, Hall said, “I did get nervous. I loved to win, but goaltending was hell.” For someone who thought that, hated to practice, and didn’t wear a mask (until 1968) to last 502 regular-season games and 50 playoff games without stopping is pretty impressive.
In 1962, when reaching to fasten his leg pads, Hall pulled a muscle in his lower back and was unable to bend correctly. Nevertheless, he headed out to the net in the November 7th game against the visiting Boston Bruins. He made two saves before 10:21 in the first period, when he let in an easy shot and immediately left the game. Hall later explained, “I didn’t want to give up the net,” he said. “In those days, there was always that fear of losing your job. And, yes, I was aware of the streak.” Denis DeJordy finished out the game in net and kept the score to a 3-3 tie. On November 10, DeJordy started, putting the nail in the coffin of Hall’s streak. DeJordy made 30-odd saves in each of the three games he played, and the Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1, lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3, and defeated the Red Wings 4-2. Hall returned to the net on November 17 at Madison Square Gardens to defeat the Rangers 4-3. He only missed one other game that season, but he never quite managed to play a full season again.
Around the time of the 1967 NHL expansion, Hall thought about retiring. Consequently, with the Blackhawks only able to protect one goalie, Hall was left vulnerable to the expansion draft. When the St. Louis Blues offered almost double his salary, Hall “put them on the map.” Coach Scotty Bowman enthused, “Glenn was a breed apart. Not only for what he did on the ice, but for how he was in the locker room and with fans. In a class by himself.” Hall attempted to retire after two years “to paint his barn back on the farm near Edmonton,” but he did not officially retire until 1971, after his 18th season. He had played 906 games (407-326-164), 84 of them shutouts, a goals against average of 2.50, and a save percentage of .918. He had his name on the Stanley Cup twice (in 1952 and 1961) and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (in 1975).