Georges Vezina

"The Chicoutimi Cucumber," known for his relaxed style in a tense game, was one of the game's early great goaltenders. But you probably already know that since the memory of Georges Vezina is forever etched in hockey history, as his name perpetuates the trophy annually awarded to the NHL's outstanding goaltender

Born in 1887, Georges grew up around the game of hockey. His parents, the local bakers, bought the local rink which allowed Georges to become the ultimate rink rat. He grew up playing goal in his boots, not an uncommon tactic in those early days. In fact, it was not until Georges was 18 that he learned how to skate.

Vezina was discovered in an exhibition match between his Chicoutimi team and the already famed Montreal Canadiens. He performed spectacularly against the "Flying Frenchmen" in a 11-5 Chicoutimi victory, impressing them so much that he became the Habs starting goalie later that year. Joseph Cattarinich, the Habs goalie at the time and soon to be part owner, was so impressed that he persuaded the Canadiens new owner, George Kennedy, to sign Vezina

In the era when goaltenders were prohibited from falling on the ice to stop or cover the puck, Vezina bravely stood tall in his net blocking shots during his brilliant 15 years from 1910 to 1925, playing in 328 consecutive games. With Vezina in net, the Canadiens won two NHA championships (the NHA was a forerunner to the NHL), three NHL regular season titles and two Stanley Cups.

His first great success came in 1915-16. The Habs sported a high powered offense led by Newsy Lalonde and Didier Pitre, and of course Vezina in net. The Habs captured the NHA championship and faced off with the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association for the Stanley Cup. Vezina was said to be instrumental in the Canadiens very first Stanley Cup championship.

Vezina and the Habs returned to the Cup finals in 1917 and 1919, losing the first and never deciding the second due to an influenza epidemic.

Vezina and the Habs had to wait until the spring of 1924 to return to the Stanley Cup, knocking off NHL Ottawa, PCHA Vancouver and WCHL Calgary in what proved to be Vezina's last championship.

Also known as the "Silent Habitant," Vezina was a man of few words who never drank or smoked. He ran a tannery business back in Chicoutimi while he played with the Habs. He fathered 24 children, although only 2 reached adulthood.

Frank Boucher, the legendary New York Rangers player and coach, remembered Vezina in awe. "He was the coolest man I ever saw, absolutely imperturbable. He stood upright in the net and scarcely ever left his feet; he simply played all his shots in a standing position. Vezina was a pale, narrow-featured fellow, almost frail-looking, yet remarkably good with his stick. He'd pick off more shots with it than he did with his glove.

Perhaps it was the acceptance that Vezina was usually pale and frail looking that prevented everyone, not even his family, from knowing that Vezina was seriously ill.

In what to proved to be his last game on November 28th, 1925, Vezina collapsed during the first period, bleeding from the mouth. He tried to return to the game, only to be forced to leave again. Only then did everyone learn he was battling tuberculosis. Unable to play the game he loved, it was reported he went into a deep depression. Four months later Vezina passed away.

When the Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1945, Georges Vezina was one of the first 12 players immediately inducted.


Marina Wenson 7:06 PM  

Georges Vezina was my Great Great Uncle. Every article INCLUDING Wikipedia's version of his life reports differently over how many children he fathered. Also, the main thing that was left out of this is the VEZINA TROPHY was named on his behalf.

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