He's the real Hall of fame

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

STONY PLAIN -- At first, Glenn Hall didn't much like the idea of having the local rink renamed after him.

When you have a famous face and live in a small town in Western Canada, you treasure being able to fit in as just another guy around town.

Hall, of course, could never be anything else. It's hard to imagine a more soft-spoken, unassuming great in any game.

And that's why, after all these years, Stony Plain mayor Ken Lemke explained, that they wanted to rename the rink the town built back in 1967 the Glenn Hall Centennial Arena.

If it was because he was simply a hockey legend living in their midst, they could have named the barn after him back when they built it in the first place.

No, they didn't do it for who he was when he played a record 502 consecutive games in goal without wearing a mask in his Hall of Fame career from 1955 to 1971.

They did it because of the way he was when he arrived, a kid from Humbolt, Saskatchewan, to play goal for the Edmonton Flyers in the old Western Hockey League from 1952 to 1955. For the way he fit in as one of them, living on his farm just outside town throughout his entire NHL career. And for the way he's been ever since, living here with the same sense of community.

Lemke, upon unveiling the large, classy sign for the building and an even more impressive 80-foot mural on the front of the rink, said the honour was to say thanks "for giving so much to our community."

Hall said he finally agreed, "thinking it would just be a two inch thing in the paper saying the rink had been renamed.

"And it turned into this. This is just a huge, huge honour. To have this happen is unbelievable. How great is that mural? It's absolutely unbelievable," he said.

Pauline Hall decided to do something to make it as big an event for the town as it was for her husband.

"Mom called Bill Hay, who is the president of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and asked if there was any chance of bringing the Stanley Cup to Stony Plain," said son Pat.

"Bill was one of dad's teammates in Chicago, and he said he'd get not just the Stanley Cup out here, but all the trophies dad won," he said of the Vezina, for top goalie, the Calder as top rookie and the Conn Smythe as MVP of the playoffs.

Hall won that last one despite losing the Stanley Cup final four games to none with the expansion St. Louis Blues.

There was a capacity crowd inside the Glenn Hall Centennial Arena with a couple hundred people lined up outside during the ceremony - and all of them were invited to have their picture taken with Hall and his trophies.

As somebody who has covered a few NHL Award Ceremonies, let me tell you: this was a better event.

Longtime Stony Plain hockey coach Clarence Berndt told the crowd he thought it was wonderful that they'd named the place the Glenn Hall Centennial Arena "as a celebration of Glenn's 100th birthday. He holds his age so well, don't you think? He doesn't look a day over 90."

Hall turned 77 on Oct. 3.

Randy Zutz, who for a long while was the town goalie in the hometown of Mr. Goalie, told of Hall asking him how his team did in a game when he was a kid and having to tell him they'd lost 9-0.

"He asked me if I had fun. I said yeah. He said that was good, because the other goalie probably didn't and probably froze his feet besides."

Zutz also told of the night in 1972 when the freshly retired Hall agreed to play for the Jr. B Stony Plain Flyers against the senior Eagles in a fundraiser.

"Before the game, Glenn puked. We're looking at each other thinking if a guy of his stature is puking, what are we supposed to do?"

A large part of the legend of Hall, of course, is that he threw up before almost every game.

Mr. Goalie, when it was finally his turn to speak, looked out at the crowd and thanked everybody for coming.

"I'd feel more comfortable if you gave me a good boo," he said.


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