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David Haugh

Hockey still makes ‘Mr. Goalie’ vomit: Blackhawks great Glenn Hall admits to not watching NHL

Back in the day, the pressure a goaltender such as Nikolai Khabibulin has faced to save a playoff series against a superior team like the Red Wings probably would have made Glenn Hall, arguably the Blackhawks’ best goalie ever, vomit.

But then Hall made vomiting a vital part of his pregame ritual during a 19-year NHL career that began with the Red Wings and included a decade in Chicago: Lace up, throw up, and go stand on your head for 60 minutes.

“I did it before almost every game because I played better when I did and I was hyper,” Hall said Wednesday on the phone from his farm in Stony Plain, Alberta.”It was pretty natural. I worked myself into it. I reminded myself I was representing my family and it would be unforgivable to not play at a certain standard.”

During the 1960s in Chicago, maybe only Mayor Richard J. Daley was protected better than the Blackhawks’ net.

Nowadays Hall, “Mr. Goalie,” to Hawks fans who remember him from the 1961 Stanley Cup champions, only feels like throwing up watching a sport he often struggles to recognize. The player who still owns an NHL record considered untouchable – 502 consecutive games by a goalie, all without a mask – lamented, “I am not a big hockey fan.”

“It’s a goon game now,” said Hall, 77. “It used to be a skill game, but it’s not anymore. It’s changed. They don’t call penalties for charging, boarding or hitting from behind. You have to question who’s educating these officials. So I don’t bother to watch much.”

Never shy with his opinions, it was that outspoken nature that Hall says was responsible for making him a Blackhawk. Back in the 1950s, the Norris family that owned the Red Wings also had controlling interest in the Blackhawks with Arthur Wirtz. So business between the two teams essentially was an inter-office transaction.

After Hall’s third season, for example, Red Wings officials asked the 1956 Rookie of the Year to stop buddying up to teammate Ted Lindsay, who was the co-organizer of the NHL Players Association.

“I said I had a problem with that and there are certain things you probably shouldn’t tell your boss,” Hall said. “So after I didn’t have a great playoff series (in 1957) the Norris family made a mistake and traded me to Chicago. That’s where they traded players they wanted to punish.”

His punishment was Chicago’s pleasure for the next decade.

Up next: Game 3 - Red Wings at Blackhawks, 7 p.m. Friday

TV/Radio: Versus/WIND-AM (560)

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