Since declaring November 1 International Goalie Day three years ago in honour of Plante’s definitive contribution to goaltending, InGoal has tried to find different ways to mark the occasion. This year, author Paul Campbell, who originated the concept of Goalie Day, confronts our mortality between the pipes through the experiences of someone who has done everything he can to push back the clock and keep kicking them out.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
— from Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Considering the End
The spectre of goalie mortality chills you with a frozen shock the first time he visits. You had learned to be impervious, decades studying the art of impenetrability making you feel godlike out there in the coldest blue. You are not prepared when he forces you to consider its end. Your end, as a goaltender.
I was 32, returning to The Position after almost a decade, cobbling together the equipment. It was a Tim Horton’s parking lot (where all Canadian goalie equipment deals go down). I paid, he gave me his chest protector, and I asked why he was getting rid of it. Upgrade? Too many bruises?
“No, I’m quitting hockey” he said. He was maybe 35. “I need to be focused on my kids playing, not me.”
It didn’t quite sound like his own phrase, and though he looked resigned, it shook me. I fought every instinct to counter his statement, to make him see how strange and unnecessary his decision was. All those instincts had little to do with him – they were all about me, shuddering at the spectre I had just seen. Would I be him in a year or two? Can it be over just like that?
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