Sep 262010

Goat of The Game

Former NHL goaltender John Garrett, who joined our Hockey Night in Canada crew once his NHL career was over, will never forget the most embarrassing moment in his career. He was the starting goalie for the Hartford Whalers one night in Washington. One of the things that fascinated Garrett about the Washington arena was the huge screen on the scoreboard over center ice, a screen that enabled fans to watch video replays of goals and other exciting plays. Such screens are commonplace today but a novelty back then.

Garrett was pleased with his performance that night, and by the midway point of the hockey game he’d robbed the Caps of several goals. Then, suddenly, two Caps skated into the Hartford zone and one of them slipped the puck through Garrett’s pads into the net.

Garrett told me later, “I couldn’t believe it was a goal. I was sure the puck didn’t quite cross the goal line. So I looked up at the big screen to watch the replay. While I was watching it, the referee dropped the puck and play resumed. Seconds later, Mike Gartner, Washington’s top scorer, stepped over the blue line and rifled a shot at my net. But I was still looking up, watching the replay on the giant screen.

“I heard my teammates screaming at me. ‘John! John!’

But it was too late. Gartner’s shot zipped past me and the Caps scored a second goal. It was almost a record for the two fastest goals.

“Coach Don Blackburn waved me over to the bench and told me to sit down. `You can watch the next replay from the end of the bench,’ he snapped.

“My face was so red I wouldn’t even take my goal mask off.”

Garrett laughs and tells us another good story:

Gretsky Steals Car

“I suffered another embarrassing moment during the 1983 All Star game on Long Island. In the third period, the Campbell Conference All Stars held a 5‑2 lead over their Wales Conference rivals.

“I was with Vancouver then, an emergency replacement for the Canucks’ number one netminder Richard Brodeur, who was sidelined with an injury. I was probably the only player ever to appear in an All Star game without ever acquiring any votes to help get me there. Anyway, I made some good saves and Lanny McDonald kept reminding me I was in line to win a new car as the game’s MVP. Hey, wouldn’t that be a thrill.

“After I made a particularly good save Lanny skated over to me and said, `Great stop, John. That gets you the tires and the licence plate.’ After another save he said, `Now you’ve got the engine and the frame.’ And after a third save he said, `They’ll have to give you the keys to it now, John.’

“The car was a new Camaro Z‑28 and I was beginning to think it would look pretty good sitting in my driveway. Then, just as the ballots were about to be collected and the MVP determined, Wayne Gretzky scored a goal for the Campbells. Lanny skated right over to me and said, `Be careful, John. There goes the trunk.’ A few minutes later Gretzky scored again and Lanny said, `There goes the steering wheel, John.’ When Gretzky popped in a third goal Lanny shrugged and said, `I think Wayne just stole the keys to your car, Johnny.’ And when Gretzky scored a record fourth goal in the period, Lanny shook his head and said, `John, I think he just stole the damn car right out of your driveway.’

“Meanwhile, up in the press box, the writers were busy erasing my name from their ballots and writing in Gretzky’s. Aw, but he deserved to win it, even if it was the 13th car he’d won in hockey.”

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