Was There a Hall-of-Fame Goalie Who Would Vomit Before Every Game?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about hockey and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the hockey urban legends featured so far.

HOCKEY URBAN LEGEND: A Hall of Fame goalie used to vomit before each game.

Besides his great goalie play, Hall of Fame Goalie Glenn Hall might be best known for his amazing consecutive games streak, where he not only played in 502 consecutive games between Oct. 6, 1955 and Nov. 7, 1963 (for two different teams), but he played in every minute of every game!

This being when goalies did not wear masks, it is pretty amazing that he was able to avoid being injured during that time. In fact, when he ultimately DID miss a game, it was after a muscle injury suffered in the LOCKER ROOM getting dressed!!!

I say the consecutive game streak is what he is best known for besides his great goalie play (he won two Vezina Trophies for Best Goalie – although he shared both, as he was platooning in both seasons as they came later in his career), but he might actually be more known for vomiting than he is for being the goaltender that led the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in twenty three years in 1961 (their last until 2010)!

You see, Hall would always get really really pumped up before each game. So much so that while he was in the Junior Leagues, he began vomiting before games. As he would go on to become a dominant goalie in Juniors (he won the Rookie of the Year when he made it to the National Hockey League (NHL)), the vomiting went from being something born strictly out of nervousness/nausea to becoming almost a sick superstition!

As Hall himself related it:

If I weren’t up for a game enough to get sick before it, I felt I wouldn’t play well. It was no big deal. I could have a glass of water and throw it up while it was still cool…I had to get down for games rather than up. I took the game too seriously. On game day, I ate only because I had to, and then I’d throw up at the rink.

He explained how he was able to keep himself from vomiting on the ice…

I controlled it by deep breathing. I learned that from watching basketball players on the foul line.

His longtime teammate, Glen Skov, talked about how Hall’s teammates felt about his ritual…

We all felt sorry for him, you know, it wasn’t put on. He was genuinely that nervous before games. Of course, we were all nervous. You should be nervous before a game because that helps to keep you stimulated. But Glenn was really affected…we felt bad for him.

Can you imagine something like this going on today?

How many sports psychologists would the Blackhawks have on staff?

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to Tom Adrahtas’ book, Glenn Hall, the man they call Mr. Goalie for the great quotes!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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