Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy B-day to Hail Cesare, The Popcorn Kid, Hollywood and the Bulin Wall


While skimming through the SIHR website, I noted that January 13 is shared by a foursome of goaltenders, who’s combined careers span over five decades.

Cesare Meniago (b. 1939) No argument that “Hail Cesare” was an NHL level goalie, it was his timing that was bad. First as a backup to the Leafs Johnny Bower, followed by the Canadiens’ Jacques Plante and then the Rangers Eddie Giacomin. Tough to unseat three Hall of Fame netminders.

image He finally found a home with the expansion Minnesota North Stars for nine seasons. Meniago worked in a tandem with future Hall of Fame goalie Gump Worsley for five of those seasons.

He still ranks second in all-time games played and minutes played in net for the Minnesota/Dallas franchise behind Marty Turco, and is third in wins and shutouts to Ed Belfour and Turco.


Mike Palmateer (b. 1954): Palmateer’s unorthodox goaltending made many an exciting nights for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the late ‘70s, and almost got the blue and white into the Stanley Cup Finals in 1978.

image He was also a great playmaker with 32 career assists, and a then goalie record eight assists in 1980-81 with the Washington Capitals.

Did you know?: Palmateer was being prepped for orthoscopic surgery when the Capitals needed him to play in place of the injured Wayne Stephenson. He was sent back to the arena in an ambulance and was ready for the game.


Kelly Hrudey (b. 1961): Hrudey is currently a familiar face on Hockey Night in Canada.

Hrudey was the winning goalie in the “Easter Epic” playoff game in 1987, where he made 73 saves, for the Islanders in their 3-2 4OT victory over the Capitals.

image During his career, he wore a blue bandana under his helmet. It became more noted in 1993 when he backstopped the Los Angeles Kings into the Stanley Cup Final, only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens.

Did you know?: Hrudey was the third goalie for Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup, but did not see action.


Nikolai Khabibulin (b. 1973): The Bulin wall is the only one of the four birthday goalies to own a Stanley Cup championship ring, doing so with Tampa Bay in 2004.

image He is the first Russian-born goalie to win Lord Stanley’s mug, and also has an Olympic Gold Medal and World Junior Championship Gold (both in 1992) in his resume.

Khabibulin is also the only active goalie in the group, playing with the Edmonton Oilers.

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