It was long before the days of SportsCenter and YouTube and multi-camera telecasts of playoff games but there is actually video of the game in which one of hockey’s strangest playoff moments occurred 41 years ago.
The fight during a New York Rangers-Toronto Maple Leafs game created a sports memorabilia mystery. It happened in April of 1971 and the Leafs’ star goalie, Bernie Parent, was right in the middle of the donnybrook. Rangers captain Vic Hadfield threw Parent’s favorite goalie mask into the Madison Square Garden crowd. New York City police officers looked into the stands, trying to find the custom-molded mask since Parent had no backup. Remember–it was 1971 and the mask was still a relatively new concept.
Parent couldn’t finish the game and the Leafs had to send in 42-year-old legend Jacques Plante – who ironically was the first goaltender in NHL history to wear a mask. Toronto won the game but the mask was gone for good–or at least it seemed that way.
It came out of hiding in a 2006 auction and last week, it was sold again. This time, a private collector in Canada contacted Parent and his agent hoping to get definitive authentication. Sure enough it was the same mask. The Philadelphia Inquirer spells out the story–and what the collector has decided to do with this unique piece of hockey history.