Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey Paperback – Oct 26 2010
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"In this engaging bio Todd Denault tells the story of a trailblazer."
— Sports Illustrated
"A fascinating read, meticulously researched."
— Scott Morrison
"A well researched and thorough examination of the life of an extraordinarily talented hockey player and complex man."
— Al Strachan
"This is a long overdue examination of one of hockey's pivotal players and most colourful characters — but Todd Denault has made the wait worthwhile."
— Roy MacGregor
"A complete, well-researched portrait of a complex man."
— Montreal Gazette
"After just a few pages into this book it was obvious Todd Denault had written an instant classic. I can not recommend this book enough."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
A member of the Society for International Hockey Research, Todd Denault is a freelance writer who has had his work featured in numerous online and print publications. A graduate of Carleton University and Lakehead University, Todd resides in Cobourg, Ontario. This is his first book.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Huge points for author Todd Denault using Klein and Reif's Hockey Compendium (possibly the best hockey analysis book ever done) and their massive save percentage database stats to prove just how great Plante was in an era when they only had goals against average as the stat du jour. Denault, though, doesn't fall into the trap of just using stats nor of ignoring GAA in the context of the era. He just strikes the right balance.
To be honest, I knew a lot about Plante, his wandering, knitting, asthma and his introduction of the modern mask to netminding. What I was looking for in this book was to fill me in on the pre- and post-Habs era especially his time with the Leafs and Blues and his Hasek-like ability to play outstanding goal into his 40s.
We get that in spades here. I was surprised to learn so many things such as the fact as juniors many of the stars of the '60s did get a chance to play the Soviets which makes the early shock at the Soviets' play in the 1972 Summit Series sort of bizarre given all this prior contact on the ice at the amateur level.
Without giving any more away on the surprises you'll find about the "good ole days" of the Original Six, just be assured you'll garner great sympathy for the man Jacques Plante over and above his skills on the ice.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This excellent biography is more than just a fascinating look at Plante's life, his hockey career, his most-ever 7 Vezina Trophies and his 6 Stanley Cup wins, it's an insightful look at hockey in its golden era. All of the NHL greats are here. I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. Highly recommended for sports fans.
It is unbelievable today to think that hockey players used to play without helmets and goalies were often forced to continue in a game or else use the unqualified "house" goalie provided by the home team. The game would be stopped sometimes for 20 minutes to a half an hour while a goalie was stitched up for an injury and then returned to the game.
Although Plante played for teams such as the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins he always thought of himself as a Montreal Canadian. Plante had several accomplishments throughout his career, one of them being five consecutive years winning the Vezina trophy which was awarded to the goalie who successfully defended against the most shots on goal in one season. However, Jacques Plante will always be remembered as the goalie who pioneered the use of the mask to protect the face of goalies.
I don't claim to be a hockey fan but I did thoroughly enjoy this book and came across the names of a number of players I remember from the 1950s and 1960s that I had forgotten about. If you claim to be a hockey fan you should familiarize yourself with this pioneer of the game. If you're not a hockey fan read the book anyway. You will enjoy it. This review is from a hardcover and not a paperback as listed.
Later additions of padded greatness included Tony Esposito, Ken Dryden, Grant Fuhr, and Dominek Hasek. All lay claim as the best that ever was, but Plante stays in the argument.
He was meticulous, eccentric, detached, and offbeat, but he was undeniably great. He played until he was 46 years old and took a studied, professorial approach to his craft. He was also a winner, whose ambition fueled him to seven Vezina's, five Stanley Cups and the admiration and respect of a generation of hockey fans, coaches and players.
This a crisply researched and well documented biography. It looks into the psyche of its subject in hard depth, and takes in not only biographical material of other hockey bios, but also interviews many of those who knew Jacques Plante.
Often inscrutable, Plante lived through his achievements both on the ice, and later, as a mentor. His monastic pursuit of hockey excellence is unmatched.
This is an excellent read on a highly interesting subject. It is recommended highly for any serious hockey fan.
Clearly, this is a man who had a difficult job. Do you look like that after a day of work?
Denault's justification for a full-length biography can be found right on the back cover from former Montreal Canadiens' goalie Ken Dryden. He is quoted as saying, "There are a lot of very good goalies, there are even a fair number of great goalies. But there aren’t many important goalies. And Jacques Plante was an important goalie."
As usual, Dryden puts matters in perspective perfectly. Plante was indeed a great goalie, in the argument for the best ever. But he certainly mattered as much as anyone who played the position.
Plante came up through the various hockey levels of Quebec and first played for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1952-53 season, if briefly. That was the start of a pro career that lasted through a stint in 1974-75 with the Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association.
What made Plante a little different, as Denault points out in his book, was his smarts. Plante was a keen analyst of the game, and was always thinking of new ways to play the position of goalie better. For example, Plante was the first to stop the puck behind his net when it was shot around the boards by opponents. That way, Plante's defensemen just skated over, picked up the puck, and carried it out of the zone. Simple, but original.
Plante was a big part of the greatest dynasty in hockey history, as the Canadiens won five straight Stanley Cups. It's never been matched. During his time in Montreal, though, he made his greatest contribution to the profession.
Back in the 1950's, teams only kept one goalie on their rosters. If someone got hurt, a goalie was pulled out of the stands to fill in. And goalies did get hurt, because they didn't use a mask back then. Plante had been practicing with a mask, and he took to the ice in a 1959 game in New York with one on after suffering an injury. Suddenly goalies could be a bit braver when facing high shots because the threat of serious injury had lessened.
It took a little while for a good mask to be developed, but improvement eventually arrived and sooner rather than later most goalies figured the extra equipment was a good idea. That makes Plante quite a figure, historically speaking.
Denault clearly did his homework here, going through all sorts of research sources to come up with information and quotes about the legendary goalie. He's also a good-sized fan of the goalie. While the author also talked to a few dozen contemporaries of Plante, Denault didn't seem to uncover many great stories from those sources. As a result, the book does feel at times like a collection of quotes from publications at the time. It's a tough job to make that an easy read.
Still, this does remind the reader realize just how good Plante was in his prime. The discussion about the best goalie ever usually has centered on such names as Terry Sawchuk, Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek. Denault points out that Plante should be in the conversation, and that makes this book worthwhile.