December 13, 2012
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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Eddie's career highlight came in the 1972 playoffs when he and Gerry Cheevers led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup. Johnston posted a 6-1 mark in the playoffs and led all goalies with a GAA of 1.86.
My favourite goalie during my Bruins-mad childhood. He was the 3rd string goalie in the famous '72 Summit Series, and I remember crying when I missed hearing the radio broadcast from his only start with that team - they stopped in Sweden and played 2 exhibition games before going on to Moscow. I was cheered somehow when, I think it was Essaw, commented after the 7-7 (or so I recall) score that the only reason Canada escaped Stockholm with a tie was because of the play of EJ.
I also clipped newspaper articles back then, mostly about the Canucks, and I remember in his stint with Chicago -- I listened to the game on the radio -- how the Sun the next day boasted a headline like 'Myopic goalie stymies Canucks.' He was truly underrated...Dan in PoCo
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