December 13, 2012

Brainless Eddie Johnston

In 1963-64 Eddie Johnston played every single minute of all seventy Boston Bruins regular season games. He was the last goalie in hockey history to have a perfect attendance record. And he did it all without a mask.

Not that it came easy. He had four broken noses that season. Twice his eyes were swollen shut so badly that doctors had to apply leeches to his face to suck out the blood so he would be able to see to play the game.

Ah, the good ol' days when goalies did not have a mask.

"No brains, either," Johnston says nowadays.

The man known to everybody as E.J. played in 591 NHL games, compiling a record of 236 wins, 256 losses and 87 ties, adding 32 shutouts, with a goals against average of 3.24. He was a popular teammate who too often played second fiddle to the likes of Gerry Cheevers. As a result hockey history has tended to forget how good he really was.

E.J. spent over 50 years in hockey, 22 as a player and 31 in management. He was best known as a Boston Bruin as a player, winning Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. He spent over 25 years in various capacities with the Pittsburgh Penguins as well.

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