Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for November 1st!

Canadian History for Kids: Jacques Plante

A ice hockey puck is made of vulcanized rubber. It is 1 inch thick, 3 inches in diameter, and weighs 6 ounces. It can be shot at upwards of 100 miles per hour. Could you imagine being hit by one? And hit by one in the face?

Jacques Plante, was hit by one several times.

But November 1st, 1959, he got hit in the face for the last time. If he was ever going to be hit by the puck again, it would be stopped by a mask! This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of Canada, looks at the career of the innovative goaltender, Jacques Plante.

One of the most outstanding goalies to ever play the game, Plante was born in 1929, the oldest of 11 children, on a farm near Mont Carmel, Quebec.

His father made Plante’s first pads by stuffing potato sacks and reinforcing them with wooden panels. His mother taught him how to knit his own toques to protect him from the cold. Plante continued knitting his whole life and wore his hand-knitted toques while playing and practicing.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues in 1947 when Plante joined the Quebec Citadelles, a farm team of the Montreal Canadiens. It was while playing for the Citadelles that Plante started to play the puck outside of his crease. Fans found Plante’s unusual playing style to be exciting.

In January 1953, Plante was called up to play for the Montreal Canadiens. He played for three games before Dick Irvin, Sr., the coach of the Canadiens wouldn’t allow Plante to play with his toque. Even without his good luck charm, Plante gave up only four goals in the three games he played, all of them wins.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues on November 1, 1959 when Plante’s nose was broken when he was hit by a shot fired by Andy Bathgate three minutes into a game against the New York Rangers, and he was taken to the dressing room for stitches. When he returned, he was wearing the crude home-made goaltender mask that he had been using in practices.

Blake was livid, but he had no other goaltender to call upon and Plante refused to return to the goal unless he wore the mask. Blake agreed on the condition that Plante discard the mask when the cut healed. The Canadiens won the game 3–1. During the following days Plante refused to play without the mask.

The team was unbeaten for 18 games while Plante wore the mask. Plante did not wear the mask, at Blake’s request, against Detroit on March 8, 1960; the Canadiens lost 3–0, and the mask returned for good the next night. That year the Canadiens won their fifth straight Stanley Cup, which was Plante’s last.

Plante would later design his own and other goaltenders’ masks. He was not the first NHL goaltender known to wear a face mask. Montreal Maroons’ Clint Benedict wore a leather version in 1929 to protect a broken nose, but Plante introduced the mask as everyday equipment, and it is now set equipment for goaltenders.

And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.

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Canadian History for Kids!