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First Goalie to Use a Curved Blade Stick...

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Old
05-06-2009, 09:20 PM
  #1
SealsFan
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First Goalie to Use a Curved Blade Stick...

I remember watching a televised game here in NY in which Flyers goalie Don "Smokey" McLeod was using a stick with a curved blade, and it was the first one I'd ever seen.

Looking up his records, he only played 4 games with Philly in the 71-72 season, so I witnessed a rare occurrence. I don't recall if it was a "Game of the Week" telecast or a game versus the Rangers; perhaps our Flyershistory member can verify that.

Of course, he moved on to the WHA the following season where the curved blade helped make him quite a playmaker. Although he didn't register an assist in his first season with the Houston Aeros, he went on to record 43 assists in his next five WHA seasons, including a high of 13 in 1975-76 with the Calgary Cowboys.

Can anyone recall an earlier instance of a goalie with the curved blade??

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05-07-2009, 09:31 AM
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McLeod in one of his 4 games from 71-72 with Philly. I saw one of these games on Game of the Week in the States and my eyes were bugging out over his curved stick. I'm going to see if I can find the date of the game on the Flyershistory archive...



Last edited by SealsFan: 03-01-2016 at 09:40 AM.
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05-07-2009, 09:34 AM
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McLeod as a WHA Calgary Cowboy...



Last edited by SealsFan: 03-01-2016 at 09:34 AM. Reason: previous picture link broken
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05-07-2009, 09:35 AM
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Smokey as a WHA Edmonton Oiler...



Last edited by SealsFan: 03-01-2016 at 09:35 AM. Reason: Previous picture link broken
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05-07-2009, 09:37 AM
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McLeod as a Houston Aero. Look at that curve!!!! Look at that mask!!!!



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05-07-2009, 09:41 AM
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Smokey as a Vancouver Blazer! With Pie McKenzie!!!



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05-07-2009, 01:46 PM
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Jack Norris

From memory believe that Jack Norris was the first to use a curved goalie stick, circa 1968-70.

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12-13-2012, 01:11 PM
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Just bumping up an old thread of mine to see if there is any other interest in this subject

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12-13-2012, 01:43 PM
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Always good to see Smokey!

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12-13-2012, 06:49 PM
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Killion
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Huh. Thats interesting. Certainly vaguely remember that goalie,
but I dont remember the innovation happening so early.

Great pictures SF. Thanks.

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12-13-2012, 07:23 PM
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Seals, any idea who holds the rights to those photos?

I'd love to put one on my website (but don't want to poach).

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12-14-2012, 11:27 AM
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Taco, I think all of these pics came from goaliearchives.com

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12-14-2012, 11:28 AM
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I had an NHL Trivia Pursuit game that said it was Dan Bouchard.

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12-14-2012, 11:40 AM
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McGuillicuddy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
Smokey as a WHA Edmonton Oiler...
I love that jersey. An absolute classic.

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12-14-2012, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
Taco, I think all of these pics came from goaliearchives.com
Hmmm - thanks! That's what I was afraid of.

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Old
12-15-2012, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGuillicuddy View Post
I love that jersey. An absolute classic.
Yeah, the subtle difference between the WHA version and NHL version - "OILERS" is in orange and the oil droplet is blue, which they reversed for the NHL version.

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12-15-2012, 01:25 PM
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With the exception of Edmonton & Houston, he's sporting a
Greg Harrison mask, identical to the one I had made & used.
Ditto on the pads & gloves, including the tape on the blocker (leather split).

Brings back some memories for sure...

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12-12-2014, 01:25 PM
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Just to bump up an old thread, there is an earlier picture of Don McLeod as a Redwing on the goaliesarchive.com website. It's from 70-71, his rookie season and he had a curved stick.


Canadiens1958 mentioned Jack Norris circa 1968-70. He played 68/69 with Chicago, only 3 games, but there is a pic of him on the goalie archives site with a blade that is clearly straight. Next time he was in the NHL was 70/71 with the Kings and from the pic on the site, it's hard to tell but it may have a very slight curve, or its just the angle the stick is held at that you can't really tell.

Either way, I think that it's conclusive that definitely McLeod and possibly Norris were the first to use a curved stick, in the same season...

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12-12-2014, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
Either way, I think that it's conclusive that definitely McLeod and possibly Norris were the first to use a curved stick, in the same season...
Nice detective work SF, and its all really rather odd to me, curved goalie stick's. Oh sure, I understand their easier to manipulate in terms of getting under the puck with a clearing shot or pass, that you can get a lot more mustard on it, but at the same time, its a liability defensively in stopping pucks with the stick blade. Look at Dave Keon, obviously a forward but still. Used a straight blade period & he put up big numbers while being beyond effective defensively. All kinds of advantages to using a straight bladed stick. The advantage to a straight bladed goalie stick is that when your in a crouch & your stopping a puck thats blade high, your taught to angle the blade forward flush to the ice of course so that when the puck strikes it, the rebound will be shortened, dead stop inches or a foot in front of you. You can then either fall on the puck for a whistle or you play it with a pass, maybe forehand or backhand it into a corner. If your using a curved blade however, and the puck hits the curve even when bent forwards towards the shooter & the puck, its rebound path would be unpredictable, the puck bouncing, squirting out hither or yon, and your screwed....

Also on a backhand sweep into a corner or; in playing it to the posts, hugging them with a guy behind the net looking to pass to someone out front & your using your stick to block it, again, if you do manage to do that with a curved blade, puck could go in any number of directions. You really have to weigh offensive tactical advantages in using a curved goalie stick to the disadvantages in rebound control in stopping the puck initially while mitigating & eliminating rebounds, second chances. Same thing with a Johnny Bower Poke Check. All about timing. You use a stick with a hook on the end of it, a curve, making life difficult for yourself because you could easily miss. That blade with the hook isnt ice flush at the tip, at the end. Indeed with the Trapezoid, goalies today are actually discouraged from playing the puck & with the Butterfly, I think it would be far more practicable to use a straight bladed goalie stick. No, its not easy to make a hard & fast shot with a straight bladed goalie stick but if you worked on it, really not a big deal. Could get some serious jam on them, air time, whatever you wanted, and no worries with uncontrolled rebounds. And sadly, thats all Ive been seeing for over a decade with goaltenders (but for a few) at the NHL level. Totally uncontrolled rebounds off of their equipment and their curved blades. Back in the day you couldnt control rebounds you werent getting out of Single A amateur. You wouldnt even make it to Jr. C let alone B or A.


Last edited by Killion: 12-12-2014 at 02:41 PM.
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Old
12-15-2014, 11:54 AM
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I hear ya, Killion. Jacques Plante's instructional book was my bible for learning the craft and there was a serious disconnect when I saw McLeod on that NHL Game of the Week with Philly in 71/72 with the curved stick. So many of the fundamentals of the position seemed to be skewed by using a curved blade. I spent a lot of time practicing stickwork and had no problem shooting, clearing, backhanding, sweeping, poking, etc. with the straight blade. I couldn't see how a curved stick would improve any of that...

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12-15-2014, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
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I couldn't see how a curved stick would improve any of that...
Ya. I never used one but I cant see how it would be anything but a liability in virtually every other aspect in controlling rebounds etc, you know, like stopping & managing the pucks rebound trajectory, on poke checks etc?... but even for clearing shots down the ice, effective really only in a clearing shot or pass using both hands when youve got the time & space to do so. Brodeur, one of the latest still great puckhandlers amongst modern day goalies, he use's a curve but its very slight. No hook on it or anything. If you look at pictures of his stick throughout his career, he seems to have tinkered around a fair amount with different curves. I just dont see it as an asset at all today with BF goalies. Discouraged in fact to play the puck & wander, but thats a whole other issue.

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03-01-2016, 10:00 AM
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I've narrowed down the possible games that I might have seen McLeod on TV in 71-72. He would have been a late-season callup since he played in only 4 games. I remember the game was a weekend afternoon game.

Feb. 12 at Minnesota - Not so sure that Flyers at Northstars would have been a Game of the Week choice. It was a Saturday too and Game of the Week was usually on a Sunday.

Feb. 13 at Buffalo - came in relief for the 3rd period. Probably not this game

March 18, Rangers at Philly - this is probably the game. A Sunday game but maybe it was broadcast over the local Rangers station here in New York and not a Game of the Week telecast.

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03-08-2016, 06:26 PM
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Well here's an amusing little postscript - I can confirm it was the March 18th game that I saw on TV. I'm cleaning out the house preparing for a move and I find a diary I kept in 1972. That game left such an impression on this 14-year-old goalie that I wrote about it in the March 18 entry! Here's what I wrote:

"You won't believe this: on the Rangers-Flyers game tonight, Flyers goalie Don McLeod had a CURVED GOALIE STICK! Unbelievable! He holds his stick up and doesn't put it to the ice until the guy is about to shoot! I hate this bum goalie! Also he wore #24!"



And on the following day entry, I wrote: "The Rangers beat Toronto 5-3, Eddie Giacomin (Ranger goalie) had 2 assists, an NHL record!"

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03-08-2016, 06:36 PM
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^^^ Thats cute..."You wont believe this!... Bum Goalie... #24"....

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03-08-2016, 08:59 PM
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Dang, nice find!

Furthest back that I actually still have notes on is the Avs/Stars game on December 3, 1995, where we lost by a 7-6 margin, and I said "man, I really hope we make a move for Patrick Roy".

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