Hall's Hallmark MarkPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
The Sporting News has been in business for 125 years now, and that’s remarkable in its own right. The publication has weathered some bumps and some potholes in the road over the last quarter century or so, but has proven to be resilient and still viable. I first subscribed when I was a kid, and still enjoy reading the magazine. I’m a little behind, but I spent some time yesterday going through the April 25 edition of TSN. It’s noteworthy because there is a lengthy one-on-one Q&A with TSN’s Craig Custance and Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin. It’s the longest and most in-depth interview with a hockey player I’ve seen in TSN since I can remember. Custance asked good questions, but Ovechkin’s answers seem a bit guarded. It’s worth a read, at any rate. I’d share a link, but I can’t find one. Maybe it hasn’t turned up online yet. As part of marking their 125 years in the business, TSN is putting out a series of special “great sports debate” issues that tackle some of the top bar room sports arguments of our time. The Ovechkin interview is contained in “The Great Records” issue in which TSN rolls through its top 10 sports records of all time. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 is atop that list. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game (in Hershey, Pa.!) on March 2, 1962 is second. The only hockey record in the top 10 is Wayne Gretzky’s 215-point season, which is ranked seventh. The top 10 list is a solid one, but I think they picked the wrong record as far as even the greatest NHL records go. For me, Glenn Hall’s mark of 502 consecutive games played in goal is one NHL record that no one is likely to approach. Think about how unlikely it would be for a goaltender in today’s game to start as many as 100 consecutive contests. That wouldn’t even put him 20 percent of the way toward Hall’s record. The streak started at the beginning of the 1955-56 season and stretched all the way to Nov. 7, 1962. Throw in 49 playoff contests and it stretches to 551 games. Hall played all of those games without a facemask, and admits that he vomited minutes before virtually every game he played in the NHL over a career that spanned nearly two decades and culminated with a Hockey Hall of Fame induction. When the streak began, Hall was a 24-year-old goaltender with just eight games worth of NHL experience to his credit. Playing for Detroit and Chicago, Hall played every game for seven straight seasons, backstopping the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup title in 1961. An NHL season was 70 games in length in those days. For my money, Hall’s record is one that stands as possibly the greatest in NHL history and one of the greatest in sports history.
I know there’s this unwritten, mostly unspoken and mostly observed “rule” about not poaching RFA (restricted free agent) players from the rosters of other clubs around the league. And I use the word “mostly” only because some NHL general managers have thrown caution to the wind in recent years in