Jacques Plante

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-10-27
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd
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The first full-scale biography of a legendary and award-winning NHL goalie who transformed the game. "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." Ken Dryden On and off the ice Jacques Plante was a true original; he was extremely talented, boastful, defiant, mysterious, and complex. Throughout his tumultuous career as a goalie, he played for Montreal, New York, St. Louis, Toronto, Boston, and Edmonton. His contributions to and impact on the game were extensive and are reflected in today's rules, equipment, and style of play. Thoroughly investigated through archival and primary research, and including interviews with figures such as Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, and Scotty Bowman, this biography sheds light on one of the most pivotal figures in the history of hockey. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

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.


Located on the Saint-Maurice River, almost halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, at the turn of the century Shawinigan Falls (as it was known then; in 1958, the city dropped the Falls from its name) was a thriving town that was the first in the country to produce aluminum and employed thousands in the pulp and paper, chemical, and textile industries.
In the 1930s, with the onset of the Depression, many of those factory jobs disappeared under the weight of the economic downturn. In an effort to help families hit by the loss of employment, the city council enacted a variety of public works programs that included building a hockey arena.
Bolstered by their new arena, Shawinigan was granted a franchise in the nascent Quebec Senior Hockey League in the fall of 1945. A semi-professional league that operated in the area between the junior league and the National Hockey League, the QSHL, then made up of seven franchises, produced a high quality of hockey that gave many players overlooked by the professionals a chance to continue playing for money while keeping their NHL dreams alive. Overnight, the Cataractes became the toast of the town, a source of civic pride, and gave the youngsters a team of players to idolize.
That same fall, a teenage boy, full of dreams and self-assurance, stood in front of the newly built arena and asked if the Cataractes needed any help.
"I was standing outside the door of the rink in the Shawinigan Arena where the Shawinigan team in the Quebec Senior Hockey League played its home games," remembered Jacques Plante many years later. "I noticed that they had only one practice goalie and asked the trainer whether I could help out. Although I was fifteen years old by this time, he told me to 'go away. You're still wearing a diaper.'"
The name of that condescending trainer has been lost to history. What this trainer had no way of knowing was that in fifty years this young man's name would be emblazoned over the door when the arena was named in his honour.
Jacques, the oldest child of Xavier and Palma Plante, was born in a wooden farmhouse near Mont Carmel in Mauricie, Quebec, on January 17, 1929. Soon afterwards, Xavier moved with his wife and baby to Shawinigan Falls, where he had secured employment with the Aluminum Company of Canada Limited.
"Dad was a machinist who had to work hard – harder than any man I have ever known," Jacques later said. "He even got a temporary job during his holidays while working for the aluminum company – just to raise a bit more money. He had a bicycle to get him to and from work, two miles each way. I can't recall him taking a single day off. Whenever I won an award in the NHL, I thought of my father and the pride he would get in reading about it and having people mention it to him."
Jacques was not an only child for long. Over the next thirteen years, he would be joined by five brothers and five sisters. With a burgeoning family, Palma Plante found her time at a premium, so as they got older each of the children was expected to help with the household chores. Being the oldest in such a large family meant that Jacques was given responsibilities rare for many his age. His chores included scrubbing floors, cooking, and changing diapers. With not much in the way of extra money, most of the children's clothing was handmade, and Jacques became proficient with a needle, some thread, and yarn. These were skills he carried into his adulthood and contributed to his legend.
With such a big brood and only one income, everyone in the Plante house was required to sacrifice some of the things that others better off were able to enjoy. This was most apparent to little Jacques in the hot summer months, when he was allowed to wear shoes only for Sunday Mass or the odd special event. Most times he went barefoot.

Excerpted from Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey by Todd Denault
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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