October 14, 2009

Goaltenders: The Expansion Years (1967-1979) by Sebastien Tremblay

For many fans, the love affair with goaltenders started in the 1970s thanks to all those colorful masks.

Gone were the barefaced greats of the 1950s and 1960s, replaced by heavily padded, awkward looking robots with concealed identities. Most of these goalies would never reach the stratosphere where Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuk or Gump Worsley resided, but they would have their own legion of devoted fans.

One of the biggest fans of the post-expansion goaltender ranks has to be Sebastien Tremblay. Savvy web surfers will of course recognize Tremblay's name for his incredible website www.goaltenders.info, the Internet's number one stop for all things goaltender related, especially from a historical perspective. His research is unmatched and his passion is obvious.

Now Tremblay has turned his passion to the printed world of books, releasing Goaltenders: The Expansion Years (1967-1979) in September, 2009. The book is currently available at www.goaltenders.info or at Lulu.com, where it is also available in ebook form.

The book profiles every goalie to play in the National Hockey League during the era in which the league grew from 6 to 17 teams. Each goalie, 129 in all plus 13 benchwarmers, is profiled from their days as amateur players up to their time in the N.H.L. The profiles are amazingly in-depth, with Rocky Farr getting as much attention as Ken Dryden. For me personally, it is these biographies that are the true jewel of the book.

Others will suggest the statistical register is the gem. Tremblay's diligently researched and painstakingly cross-referenced compilation includes complete game by game results for every goaltender for every year. That resulted in 16,367 log entries! He also features complete goaltender statistics, including, for the first time ever, save percentages. What an amazing undertaking that must have been. We all owe Tremblay a tremendous thank you for this tedious work.

The self-published book is a little bulky at 408 pages, more than half of which is the statistical compendium. There are nearly two dozen black and white in-action photos, with plans to add to that collection in future editions, although the template lay-out which currently displays the generic "photo unavailable" image is a little annoying as is.

This book is a must have for all goaltender enthusiasts of the expansion era from 1967 through 1979. The biographies and statistical compendium are amazing resources, with researchers owing Tremblay a debt of gratitude.

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