Friday, February 13, 2015

The Infamous Bobby Rousseau Penalty Shot

Here's another cool story from  Bruce McDougall's excellent book, "The Last Hockey Game". In it there is a quick mention made of Montreal Canadien Bobby Rousseau scoring a penalty shot goal against Boston's Bruce Gamble...with a slap shot. This incident is also mentioned by other credible and excellent sources like Joe Pelletier's and Dennis Kane's terrific Canadiens site . Kane's site also includes a photo of said event. The only thing is, I'm just not all that sure the event actually happened as described over the years.

If we take the details at face value, it's easy to narrow down the occaisons when Rousseau scored against Gamble while he was in Boston. Gamble was only in Boston for two seasons, 1960/61 and 1961/62. Rousseau played a mere 15 games as a rookie in 60/61, so there are minimal games to look at. There are only two goals Rousseau scored against Gamble when he played for Boston; Feb. 15, 1962 and March 10, 1962. Both of these goals had two assists awarded, therefore were not penalty shots.

So, Rousseau never did score a penalty shot goal against Gamble while Gamble was a member of the Bruins. What if we find all the goals Rosseau scored on Gamble, period. Where any of these ones on a penalty shot?

Rousseau Game vs. Gamble with Toronto, Goals noted
Feb 20, 66
Mar 2, 66 Goal
Mar 16, 66 Goal
Dec 21, 66 
Jan 11, 67
Jan 25, 67
Mar 22, 67
Dec 20, 67
Jan 30, 68
Mar 20, 68 2 Goals
Nov 14, 68
Dec 11, 68
Dec 26, 68
Feb 19, 69 Goal
Mar 6, 69
Mar 26, 69
Oct 15, 69
Nov 26, 69
Feb 11, 70
Mar 15, 70
Mar 25, 70 Goal
Using the Hockey Summary Project we can see that not one of these goals was scored via a penalty shot. What now? Perhaps the story was twisted over the years. Maybe it was indeed a penalty shot goal against Boston, but not on Bruce Gamble. Following are Rousseau's goals against Boston over the years.

Rousseau Goals vs Boston
Jan 12, 63
Feb 10, 63
Feb 14, 63 
Mar 7 63 2 Goals
Mar 17, 63
Nov 17, 63
Jan 1, 64
Jan 4, 64
Feb 20, 64
Nov 6, 65
Nov 7, 65
Dec 8, 65
Mar 9, 66
Mar 26, 66
Oct 22, 66
Oct 23, 66
Mar 15, 67 2 Goals
Mar 26, 67
Nov 25, 67
Jan 13, 68
Dec 22, 68
Mar 29, 69
Nov 1, 69

None of these were scored on a penalty shot...except February 14, 1963. The Canadian Press even mentions it;
"Bobby Rousseau scored on the penalty shot, at 1:50 of the third period. Jean-Guy Talbot of Montreal was sitting out a major penalty when Rousseau stole the puck from Boston's Doug Mohns, but was grabbed from behind by Murray Oliver as he broke into the clear.
Referee Art Skov immediately awarded the penalty shot and Rousseau beat Johnston with a hard drive into a low corner."

"A hard drive into a low corner," on a penalty shot, sure does sound like a slap shot. It also sure does look like what's happening in the photo above, but the photo says it's Bruce Gamble in the net. Seeing as we can't see a number on the tender, and they both caught with their left hand the only distinguishing feature to determine who the goalie is may be the hairline.
Gamble is on the left, pictured during the same era as the photo of the alleged penalty shot goal. Johnston is the second two shots. To me, the goalie in the photo has a higher, more "widow's peak" hairline that would seem to match Gamble's. So, where does that leave us? 

It seems the photo of Rousseau scoring on the long slap shot is in fact against Bruce Gamble, but I'm fairly certain this is not the penalty shot goal that has been re-told many times. Perhaps Rousseau was simply on a breakaway when he decided to wind up and hammer it. This has to be from either the Feb. 15 or March 10 1962 games. It looks like the actual penalty shot goal on Johnston from the following year may be the one that has been regaled over the years, just with the wrong goalie in net.

With thanks to one of my readers, I am now able to verify that on February 15, 1962 Bobby Rousseau did in fact score with a slap shot on a penalty shot against the Bruins Bruce Gamble. I did mention that this date was onr of only two that Rousseau scored against Gamble while he was with Boston, the problem with looking through multiple boxscores manually is that I missed the second  goal that he scored during the 9-1 blow-out that day. He tallied a shorthanded marker in the third period against Gamble in addition to his one earlier that had two assists.

In checking the Montreal Gazette's game report (which I didn't do originally thinking he only scored the one goal) we see it all clearly now;
"The feature of the game was Rousseau's penalty shot, awarded by Referee Frank Udvari after Bobby was pulled down from behind by Jerry Toppazzini. The rookie appeared as cool as a veteran as he skated in and let go a 35-foot slap-shot that went cleanly through Gamble's legs.
'I made  mistake,' said Rousseau afterwards. 'Jean Beliveau told me to shoot but I know he didn't mean a slap shot or for me to let it go so far out.' "

So there it is. The slap-shot on a penalty shot happened on February 15, 1962, and he may very well have repeated the feat almost exactly a year later against Eddie Johnston. Needless to say, the man enjoyed the slap shot.


dsd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dsd said...

The goalie in the picture is Gamble.

The Montreal Gazette recap of the February 14th, 1963 game describes Rousseau scoring the only goal against Eddie Johnston on a penalty shot for the Habs in the 2-1 loss. The story mentions that Rousseau scored a penalty shot goal early the previous season against Don Head - so I investigated and and found that it wasn't Head - it was actually against Gamble on February 15th, 1962, one year less a day before the one Rousseau just scored on Johnston.

Going back to the Gazette of the previous year, it describes how Rousseau beat Gamble with a slap shot from 35 feet out. I'm thinking the picture is from that one.

Nitzy said...

Great stuff! The goalie pictured is definitely Gamble, that's the problem with records from back then, you just can't trust the accuracy 100%.

Anonymous said...

Nitsy I wanted to know if you have WHA rosters with jersey numbers 1973-74 mostly, from the Toronto Toros, Quebec Nordiques? If so email me at:
I'm sorting out old WHA negatives and need some jersey numbers.

Anonymous said...

(What I wrote today Jan 1st,2017 at another hockey site)::::::Holy Cow! I was at that Game in Montreal. That was my FIRST EVER NHL game too. I was 7 yrs old. My dad Leo Madigan stood my older brother Danny(age 9) and myself up on our seats as the whole Forum was standing up to witness the penalty shot. I think the game was like 8-1 at the time for Montreal. (Boston sucked back took the puck and just over the blue line..maybe a bit further...let go a slap shot...even though I don't think anyone was calling it that term back then...and the puck whizzed past Gamble...(although I thought it was always TomJohnston..spelling not sure here). Anyway, the Forum erupted in a frenzy so loud I thought my ears would burst. It was the most exciting feeling I ever had back then and I'll never forget it. I'm only writing this now because I just put on twitter this incident about Rousseau scoring a penalty shot as twitter's "Habs 24 Cups" asked us to wish Happy New Year to Montreal fans. So I told this story there. Then I decided to put the incident in Google and this article above came up. Amazing!!!!! Cheers Mike Madigan (PS I still think the one I saw was with Johnston now that I see this)

Anonymous said...

I just got an email from my brother Danny. He says: "Mike, I remember that night. Think the final score was 11-1. It was indeed Gambol" Cheers Mike Madigan..see comments above.

Nitzy said...

So cool to have a first-hand account. Thanks so much!

John Knight said...

I saw it live on HNIC and it was from about a step inside the blue line. Nobody expected it, least of all the goalie!

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