March 15, 2014

Paul Bibeault: Oddest Shutout In NHL History

On this day in 1941 the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Americans 6-0 in the final game of the 1940-41 regular season.

What was interesting about this game was the coaching strategy of Montreal's Dick Irvin. He decided to experiment by alternating goaltenders Bert Gardiner and Paul Bibeault in approximate seven minute intervals.

While the shutout suggests the experiment apparently worked, as far as I know Irvin (or no other NHL coach) ever tried it again. The Canadiens played Gardiner in all three of their playoff games.

The Montreal media notes suggest that this was the first shared shutout in NHL history, although there is some debate about that. Toronto's Lorne Chabot and Benny Grant are said to have shared a 5-0 win over the Americans on March 14, 1929, supposedly because Chabot had to leave the game for an unspecified period of time.. However no statistical or media record confirms that the event happened.

Paul Bibeault was better known as the Toronto goalie who gave up 5 goals by Rocket Richard in a playoff game back in 1944. He was also Frank Selke's son-in-law. Selke was the once the powerful general manager first in Toronto and then in Montreal. Bibeault met his daughter Evelyn when she worked at Maple Leaf Gardens as a switchboard operator.

Bibeault played in over 200 games in the 1940s but was never considered to be an elite goaltender. Bibeault retired in the mid-1950s and became the manager of Canada's first Olympic sized swimming pool (in Montreal). He was also a ticket manager for the Montreal's World's Fair - Expo 67.

He died early, at the age of 51, losing his battle with cancer in 1970.

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