Jacques Plante, Homemade Toques, and Being Old in Edmonton

1975-76 O-Pee-Chee (WHA) – Jacques Plante

Jacques Plante played professional hockey until he was 58 years old.

Actually, that’s a huge fucking lie. He didn’t. I like to tell little fibs sometimes. But to see him wearing an Oilers jersey as quite an elderly gentleman, I might have had you thinking there for a second.

Plante was actually 46 years old when he played 40 games for Edmonton in the WHA in 1974-75 before retiring for the third time. That’s one more retirement than Mario Lemieux and Guy Lafleur, and the same number of retirements as Michael Jordan. Pretty solid company.

The thing that impresses me the most about Plante, however, is that he was the ultimate goalie. And by saying that, I’m not talking about his seven Vezina Trophies. I’m talking about the fact that he would sit at the front of the bus, far away from his teammates and their shenanigans. That he’d hang out in his hotel room alone, answering fan mail and KNITTING HIS OWN UNDERSHIRTS AND TOQUES. That he once said “No, I never make friends. Not in hockey; not elsewhere. Not since I was a teenager. What for? If you are close to someone, you must be scheduling yourself to please them.”

This all represents a fella who was focused on being a goalie and stopping pucks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: goaltending is the easiest job in hockey. All you have to do is stop the puck, and you can get away with literally anything else.

Prove me wrong.

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