July 30, 2016

Al Jensen

Nowadays Al Jensen is a long time head amateur goaltending scout for Central Scouting. His expertise in evaluating puck stopping prospects is second to none.

Which is odd in that Jensen most of his on-ice hockey career as the back up.

Jensen was once a strong junior goalie himself with his hometown Hamilton Fincups (the team also played one season in St. Catherines). He had to learn to share the net with future NHLer Rick Wamsley, but was able to develop into a top prospect himself, also twice playing for Canada at the World Juniors. The Detroit Red Wings drafted him 31st overall in the 1978 NHL draft.

Jensen would apprentice in the Wings farm system for three seasons and was finally rewarded with his first game on November 20th, 1980. Though Jensen gave up seven goals and lost the game in Montreal's fabled Forum, it was a game he would never forget.

It also proved to be the only game Jensen would ever play for the Wings. In the following summer he was traded to Washington in exchange for forward Mark Lofthouse.

Jensen blossomed in Washington, helping the Capitals to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1982-83. He had a strong season with a 22-12-6 campaign.

The next season Jensen was co-winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy with teammate Pat Riggin. Jensen posted a nice 25-11-3 record with four shutouts. He was even asked to play in the 1984 NHL mid-season all star game, but a back injury made it impossible for him to attend.

Riggin emerged as the number one go-to goalie in 1984-85, while Jensen started having to share the back up role with up and comer Bob Mason. Nonetheless, Jensen did what he could in just 14 games - winning 10 and losing just 3.

Riggin was moved for Pete Peeters in 1985-86. During that transition Jensen emerged with a very impressive 28-9-3 record.

But Bob Mason returned in the 1986-87 campaign, forcing Jensen to the sidelines and then to Los Angeles as he was traded for a young defenseman named Garry Galley. He would barely play in LA before disappearing from the league. A nagging groin injury haunted him all season.

All told had 95 wins, 51 losses and 18 ties with 8 shutouts in his 179 game NHL career

"You're only as good as your last shot and that will never change," Jensen advises. "It's all about wins and being successful, and you have to push yourself. If you want to be successful in life as a goalie you have to work on it and you can't be satisfied and get into a comfort zone. You want to be better today than you were yesterday; that's how I always felt."

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