A picture is worth a thousand words
You’re looking at two Chicago Blackhawks goaltenders from the mid 40s probably. The one on the left is Mike Karakas. He was the first NHL player of Greek descent, Minnesota native. I’m not sure who’s on the right….
What drew me to this picture, was the state of their equipment. During the early days of the NHL, players and goalies both did whatever and however they could to stay safe.
Going over the historical records, I’ve read accounts of players stuffing newspaper in their shin guards (which were made of leather mind you….) Goalies doing the same thing with what they called the chest protector,
Hell I have a strange memory of Stan Mikita I think, getting his face coated in petroleum jelly… For what purpose I couldn’t tell you…. I think it was to keep the sticks from cutting his face…dude was as rough as they come.
But really look at the picture of those two goalies….
Nowadays unless you’re Arturs Irbe and you repair your own equipment until it dies… Most NHL goalies go through a pair a season.
Look at the modifications…. The extra padding on the forearm… The random straps to hold it all in place…. The patchwork on the leg pads… Fascinating stuff.
I think it’s something we take for granted, that these guys didn’t ball out of control. In fact as a statement, most of them had jobs in the offseason like me and you have jobs…. Like you would go to your local grocery store and bagging your groceries would be the backup goalie for the Blackhawks. That was just life.
I think it’s an important thing to remember the spirit of how the game started, and how close we are to the actual soul of hockey.
Bunch of boys and girls who just wanted to play, no matter the cost.