SI Vault
Gilbert Rogin
November 05, 1962
Like a party begun with a practical joke, the 1962-63 National League hockey season got off to a boffo start as the forever cellar-dwelling Boston Bruins pulled the chair out from under the lofty Montreal Canadiens with a 5-0 shutout in their very first game. As soon as the astonished laughter subsided, however, order began to reassert itself Skating as smoothly as ever during the next two weeks, and with virtually no change in their last year's lineup (save for the absence through illness of their prizewinning goalie, Jacques Plante), the Canadiens climbed slowly but surely toward the first-place position in which they are expected to finish the season. With their own rosters pretty much intact, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Black Hawks both seemed in shape to repeat their last year's close scramble for second place. The continuing surprise of the new season was Detroit. With seven new men on the ice, the Red Wings were skating along at the top of the league, although few gave them much chance to stay up there. With their only real strength still concentrated in ageless Gordie Howe, now formally installed as assistant coach, the Red Wings are once again picked by the experts to share the bottom floors with the New York Rangers and the Bruins, who are confidently predicted to end up, as usual, in last place. If Boston thus has little to look forward to, it can at least take pride in its possession of the most interesting rookie in the league: a Canadien-killing goaltender, as relentlessly cheerful in defeat as he was in the fleeting moments of victory.
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November 05, 1962

The Happy-go-lucky Goalie

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"I tell you the time I stole—I took, I borrow—this cop's horse in Detroit? We were sudsing, eh? I see this horse and get on him and ride him all around Cadillac Square. The cop catch me. He couldn't understand what I was saying, but I know he mean business."

Perreault now owns legitimately one and a half trotters in Three Rivers, Quebec, where he was born and lives in the off season with his wife Pierrette, son Mirke, 5, and daughter Josée, 3. "The one I own, Ringading, not too hot, really bad, but with the other, Bye Bye Love, we win two races. I train them in the morning, but it takes three years to have license to drive them. Too much trouble." Perreault goes for flat racing, too. "I was at the races one time and this horse I bet on was first when they go behind the billboard [tote board]. He was last when they came out. You know, I think they change jockeys on me back there." Perreault also enjoys curling (in Hershey he was a member of a team called the Six Pack Rats), golf ("I'm not too good, really bad, eh?—90"), baseball (he tried out with the Dodgers at Vero Beach. "They just pick four or five of us guy for a little see-around there") and football. "I really like that game," he says. "I wish my son he play a little football." Perreault is a fast, demoniac and tailgating driver in his old, worn Buick. "I went 95 in that lemon last Saturday," he said the other day. "I would have gone faster but I was in bad shape—my tongue. I have small wheel on one side. Supposed to be better, one guy told me."

During the off season Perreault is the day bartender at the Club Des Forges in Three Rivers, of which he is part owner. "I like that," he says. "Lots of action, lots of noise, lots of girls: singers, the half-strip, eh?"

Perreault's career in professional hockey began in Providence in 1951. After two years with the Reds he went with Sherbrooke for a season. Then followed a year with the Montreal Royals, three years with Shawinigan—in 1954—55 he won the Vezina Memorial Trophy for being the outstanding goalie in the Quebec Hockey League—and, most recently, five seasons with Hershey in the American Hockey League. In 1958-59 he was awarded the Harry Holmes Memorial Trophy, again for being the best goal-tender in the league.

Perreault wears a religious medal when he plays. Before each period and, if there is opportunity, after every save, he touches it to his forehead, eyes, nose, lips. Playing goal for Boston offers frequent occasion for divine intervention. In the seven games the fourth-place Bruins have played to date, they have won one, lost three and tied three; the opposition has scored 22 goals in Perreault's six games, and Perreault, in weary despair, has made a total of 205 saves. Although a somewhat ridiculous, shabby-looking figure in his long, baggy uniform sweater, he is no source of amusement as he glides fearfully about his semicircle like a mechanical clock figure. He has a look of terror and of a hopelessness which approaches pain.

"Bobby's a heck of a goaltender," says Captain McKenney. "I don't think he'll be the one who'll let us down."

He hasn't. When Boston lost its first game of the season to Detroit 5-3 after a win and two ties (last season the Bruins lost eight straight before they managed to win one), the subject of the team's concern was Perreault. "Poor guy," said the veteran Right Wing Jerry Toppazzini, "we didn't give him a chance tonight." Perreault somberly tied his pointy shoes, then broke into his almost perpetual grin. "That's the game," he said. "Let's try to win another one, eh?" He withdrew a long cigar from his breast pocket, where a white handkerchief showed three even peaks, like a child's vision of the Alps. "If we make the playoffs," Bobby said, "I smoke cigar ail summer."

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