Jacques Plante is best remembered for his backstopping of the Montreal Canadiens to five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956 – 60. However, some may recall his impact at a much latter stage of his NHL career, right here in Toronto.
Acquired by Toronto from St. Louis for cash, Plante’s debut season with the Leafs in 1970/71 was spectacular. His 1.88 goals-against average led the NHL and was the only sub-2.00 GAA that season. In fact, for the next 25-years (1971/72 – 1995/96), Plante’s 1.88 GAA was the second-best single-season mark by any goaltender in the league. It was surpassed only by Tony Esposito’s 1.77 GAA in 1971/72.
Plante was also selected to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team in 1971, an incredible feat considering that he was 42-years-old, a grandfatherly age for a goaltender. To put this achievement into perspective today, consider that the Leafs current back-up goaltender, Curtis Joseph, is 41 years of age.
Another impressive statistic about Plante’s 1970/71 season with the Leafs is that despite playing in just 40 games, he finished 5th in goalie wins with 24. What makes this achievement even more impressive is that from 1970/71 – 1992/93, Jacques Plante and Mike Palmateer were the only Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders to place among the top-five in goalie wins in any season.