|Born||April 17, 1926|
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
|Died|| June 17, 2004 78) (aged|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Height||5 ft 7 in (170 cm)|
|Weight||155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb)|
|Played for||Montreal Canadiens|
Gerald George McNeil (April 17, 1926 – June 17, 2004) was a professional ice hockey goaltender who won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s.
McNeil first signed with the Canadiens in 1943 when he was only 17. While playing with their farm team, the Montreal Royals of the Quebec Senior Hockey League (QSHL), he served as a practice goalie with the Habs whenever they were in Montreal. McNeil won the Byng of Vimy award for the most valuable player three times in the QSHL, and the Royals won the Allan Cup in 1947.
McNeil was called up from the Cincinnati Mohawks of the American Hockey League (AHL) in March 1950 when Montreal's goaltender, Bill Durnan, was hit in the head with a skate blade. Teams in this era usually carried a single goalie who played every minute, barring injury. McNeil recorded a 1.50 goals against average (GAA) over six games and preserved Durnan's sixth and final Vezina Trophy, then awarded to the goalie who played the most, of the team with the fewest goals against. This rookie performance earned McNeil "the Schaefer player of the week" award.Durnan returned but felt he had lost his edge, so he announced that he sit out a playoff game against the New York Rangers. McNeil initially refused to take "Bill's spot," so Durnan was asked to talk to his understudy in a private part of the dressing room. Both men shed tears, as the "torch" was passed down, and McNeil then succeeded Durnan as Montreal's goalie.
McNeil played every game for the Canadiens from March 1950 to November 1952, a streak that included two entire 70-game seasons, 1950–51 and 1951–52. In the 1951 Stanley Cup playoffs, McNeil went 214 minutes of shutout hockey against the powerful Detroit Red Wings, a stretch that included two marathon overtime games at the Detroit Olympia. McNeil made 38 of his 62 game one saves in extra time, a performance that prompted Jack Adams, Detroit's general manager, to remark, "It was like running into one-hit pitching your first time out. The greatest goalkeeping this team ever faced."The Canadiens won both games on goals by Maurice Richard and a stellar performance by McNeil, who was dubbed by the Detroit press, "the magician." When the Canadiens went on to eliminate the heavily-favored Red Wings, Detroit's coach, Tommy Ivan, remarked, "Gerry McNeil was the difference. He was terrific in their net." The 1951 Stanley Cup Finals remain the only best-of-seven series in which every game required overtime. Bill Barilko's Cup-winning goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs against McNeil was famously captured in a photograph by Nat Turofsky, remaining part of the legend surrounding Barilko's death.
McNeil recorded 10 shutouts in the 1952-53 NHL season, making his play essential as the Canadiens only scored 155 goals in 70 games, a 2.21 goals per game rate. The last game of the regular season was against Detroit at the Olympia, and sitting at 49 goals, Gordie Howe was set to match and perhaps beat Richard's then-record of 50 in a season, set when he had scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1943-44. Howe did not score on five shots against McNeil, who was heard telling Richard after the game, "well Rock, he'll have to start over at one again."McNeil's Stanley Cup victory a few weeks later was immortalized in Wayne Johnston's novel, The Divine Ryans. He won the Cup the night before his 27th birthday with a shutout in overtime.
In the 1954 Stanley Cup Finals McNeil suffered another overtime loss, this time in game seven, when the puck was deflected past him by his teammate Doug Harvey. He retired that summer but returned to professional hockey a year later with the Montreal Royals. He then filled in for an asthmatic Jacques Plante at the beginning of the 1956-57 NHL season, before playing the rest of the season with the Royals. After then played two seasons with the Rochester Americans in the AHL before finishing his professional career in his hometown with the Quebec Aces.
McNeil led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals all four seasons from 1950 to 1954, the seasons in which he was their number one goalie. This stretch was the first four of ten consecutive appearances in the Cup Finals for the Habs.
McNeil was known to play his best when it mattered most. He finished his NHL career with a 2.32 GAA for the regular season and a 1.89 in the playoffs. He appeared in three NHL All-Star games, (1951, 1952 and 1953) and posted a 2.00 GAA. His 28 regular season shutouts earned him an NHL Milestone Award in 1982.
Born to Peter McNeil and Rose Dyotte (dit Gyotte) in 1926, McNeil was married to Theresa Conway (1927–2009) for 58 years, and the couple had four children, Shannon, Karen, David, and Donna, and six grandchildren. After retiring from hockey, McNeil worked as a sales representative for a number of organizations. His last position was regional sales manager for Thomas Adams, a Seagram's company. He spent a number of winters in Panama City Beach, Florida with his hockey buddies: Elmer Lach, Ken Mosdell and Maurice Richard. He joined the first two as pallbearers at Richard's funeral in May 2000 and died himself of cancer in 2004.
|1943–44||Montreal Jr. Royals||QJHL||3||—||—||—||180||10||0||3.33|
Joseph Jacques Omer Plante was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. During a career lasting from 1947 to 1975, he was considered to be one of the most important innovators in hockey. He played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1953 to 1963; during his tenure, the team won the Stanley Cup six times, including five consecutive wins. In 2017 Plante was named one of the "100 Greatest NHL Players" in history.
Terrance Gordon Sawchuk was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender who played 21 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers. He won the Calder Trophy, earned the Vezina Trophy in four different seasons, was a four-time Stanley Cup champion, and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame the year after his final season, one of only ten players ever for whom the three year waiting period was waived.
The 1947–48 NHL season was the 31st season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 60 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the Stanley Cup winners. They defeated the Detroit Red Wings four games to none. This season saw the introduction of a new trophy – Art Ross Trophy – that would be handed out to the player who scored the most points during the regular season.
William Ronald Durnan was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender who played seven seasons with the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League (NHL). During his career he was one of the most dominant goaltenders in the NHL, winning the Vezina Trophy for fewest goals allowed six times, being named First All-Star Team as best goaltender six times, and helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup two times. Dealing with a nervous condition throughout his career, Durnan retired in 1950, citing the stress of playing professional hockey. Durnan also served as the captain of the Canadiens in 1948, the last goaltender to be allowed to captain his team. In 1964 Durnan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and in 2017 he was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
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The 1950–51 NHL season was the 34th season of the National Hockey League. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens four games to one for the Stanley Cup to win their fifth Cup in seven years.
The 1943–44 NHL season was the 27th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams played 50 games each. The Montreal Canadiens were the top team of the regular season and followed it up with the team's fifth Stanley Cup championship.
The 1946–47 NHL season was the 30th season of the National Hockey League. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the 1947 Stanley Cup Final to win their sixth Stanley Cup championship.
The 1948–49 NHL season was the 32nd season of the National Hockey League. In a rematch of the previous season, Toronto defeated Detroit in the Stanley Cup final to win the championship.
The 1949–50 NHL season was the 33rd season of the National Hockey League. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the New York Rangers in seven games for the Stanley Cup. It was the Red Wings' fourth championship.
The 1951–52 NHL season was the 35th season of the National Hockey League. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup by sweeping the Montreal Canadiens four games to none.
The 1956–57 NHL season was the 40th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season, defeating the Boston Bruins four games to one in the best-of-seven final series. The final game was won with a clutch goal from Montreal defenceman Tom Johnson that clinched the Stanley Cup championship for the Canadiens 3-2.
The 1930–31 NHL season was the 14th season of the National Hockey League. Ten teams played 44 games each. The Montreal Canadiens beat the Chicago Black Hawks three games to two in the best-of-five Stanley Cup Finals for their second consecutive Stanley Cup victory.
The 1934–35 NHL season was the 18th season of the National Hockey League (NHL). Nine teams each played 48 games. The Montreal Maroons were the Stanley Cup winners as they swept the Toronto Maple Leafs in three games in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 1934 Stanley Cup Finals was contested by the Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Red Wings. It was the Red Wings' first appearance in the Finals, and Chicago's second, after 1931. The Black Hawks won the best-of-five series 3–1 to win their first Stanley Cup.
The 1944 Stanley Cup Final was a best-of-seven series between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens won the series 4–0 to win their first Stanley Cup since they defeated Chicago in 1931.
The 1959–60 Montreal Canadiens season was the club's 51st season of play. The team had another outstanding season, placing first in the league and winning the Stanley Cup for the fifth consecutive season, and the 12th time in team history.
The 1943–44 Montreal Canadiens season was the club's 35th season, 27th in the National Hockey League (NHL). The team would win the Stanley Cup for the fifth time. Bill Durnan would join the club as its new goaltender and he won the Vezina Trophy in his rookie season.
The Original Six era of the National Hockey League (NHL) began in 1942 with the demise of the Brooklyn Americans, reducing the league to six teams: Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs. This structure remained stable for a quarter century; the era ended in 1967 when the NHL doubled in size adding six expansion teams.