June 18, 2004 by

Gerry McNeil

5 comments

Categories: Business, Sports

Gerard “Gerry” McNeil, a former goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, died on June 17. Cause of death was not released. He was 78.
The Quebec City native was only 17 when he attended his first training camp in 1943. Starting with the Cincinnati Mohawks and the Montreal Royals, he honed his skills during six minor league seasons, and was named the most valuable player three years in a row.
McNeil replaced Canadiens’ Hall of Famer Bill Durnan in the midst of the 1950 playoffs and backstopped the team to the Stanley Cup finals in 1951 and 1952. During the 1952-53 season, he led Montreal to a Stanley Cup win.
One of hockey’s last ambidextrous goalies, McNeil lost his starting position at the end of the 1953-54 season to Jacques Plante, a young superstar who became the first goalie to don a face mask and skate behind the net to stop a puck. During the Stanley Cup finals against Detroit that year, Plante was pulled and veteran McNeil was placed on the ice to help the team win the next two games and force a seventh.
The seventh game would bring about McNeil’s downfall. In overtime, he allowed an easy shot to get past him. The missed goal, which earned Detroit the Stanley Cup, crushed McNeil’s confidence. He bailed out of the sport for a season to teach junior hockey, but eventually returned to Montreal as Plante’s back-up.
Although McNeil was part of the Canadiens when the team won the Stanley Cup in the 1956-57 season, he never again played as an NHL starter. After retiring from hockey, McNeil spent 20 years working at the Seagram Distilleries.
Career Statistics From the Internet Hockey Database

5 Responses to Gerry McNeil

  1. John Lynch

    As a child, I walked past Gerry McNeil’s house on Montclair Avenue every day. Every day too, there were children at his door seeking autographs. Whenever possible, Gerry acceded to their requests. It was the era of Elmer Lach and Doug Harvey and the Richards. Danny Gallivan lived across the street from us and Red Storey was a frequent and bibolous guest in our home. Life was good as you pulled a red white and blue hockey shirt on …and set out for Terrebonne Park.

  2. Anonymous

    To the family:
    I have recently started reading about Gerry McNeil’s life story on the Internet. I am not a hockey fan but I remember after having moved to Montreal from New-Brunswick, watching hockey games on TV with my brothers. Unfortunately Gerry was no longer goaltender at that time. My aunt Jackie was recently telling my husband and I nice stories about Gerry’s life as a hockey player. My grand-mother and Gerry

  3. Evan Murphy

    Gerry Mcneil was my uncle and i would like to say that he was the gretest man to ever walk the earth. His smile could light a room instanly. When I was at his funeral i just broke downn and cried cause i realised a legend was lost that day. I shall miss him and i hope that he is happy where ever he is.
    Evan murphy Age 12

  4. Bill Howden

    Gerry was my grandmother’s cousin, and she was really very proud of him and his talent. It was said that she would listen to games on the radio and become upset when he managed to get a puck in the face. I never had the pleasure of meeting Gerry, but even the youngsters in the family know his name and about his career.

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