Monday, September 20, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Michel Plasse

There are few times were the AGM can be listed amongst the "firsts" of something, but this week's AGM did something in the minors before the any NHL goalie had a sniff of it. Plus, this AGM has been on three teams that now no longer exist, which could be a record in this category. In any case, this week, we look at the career of Michel Plasse.

Plasse started out his venture to the NHL with the Junior A Drummondville Rangers. He would play in Drummondville from 1965 until 1968, getting the Rangers to a Memorial Cup play-down in the 1967-68 season, though they would lose in the Quebec Finals to Verdun.

Plasse was picked first overall in the 1968 NHL Amateur Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, but would start out his pro career with the IHL's Cleveland Barons for the 1968-69 season going 2-4-0 in his seven games of action. For the 1969-70 season, Plasse would go south to the Jacksonville Rockets of the Eastern Hockey League, where he would play 61 games with a 4.87 GAA to show for it in the regular season, while getting swept in four games and sporting an 8.75 GAA in those four games. The Canadiens loaned out Plasse to the Kansas City Blues of the Central Hockey League for the 1970-71 season, where he would actually get a dubious distinction during his 16-game tenure there.

On February 21, 1971, Plasse would cement himself in the history books. While playing against Oklahoma City, Plasse would intercept a pass across the crease, batting the puck down the ice, where it could go into an open-net. Plasse became the first goalie in modern era history to be credited with a goal. Billy Smith of the New York Islanders would be the first NHLer to be credited with a goal in the NHL while Ron Hextall would be the first to shoot and score in the NHL.

Someone saw something in Plasse, as he was trade from Montreal to the St. Louis Blues for a cash prize. While he would see mostly back-up duty to Ernie Wakely, he would play one game during the 1970-71 season and get a win during it.

Plasse would be traded by St. Louis back to Montreal for cash...again. However, Plasse would be headed to the AHL and the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. Plasse would finally come into his own during the 1971-72 season. Plasse would play 36 games behind Wayne Thomas and would go 17-13-4, but would get the call for most of the Calder Cup Playoffs, going 12-3-0 in those playoffs, though the Voyageurs would lose in the Calder Cup finals in five games.

Plasse would get the call up to the Montreal Canadiens for the 1972-73 season, seeing 17 games in his first season behind Ken Dryden and would go 11-2-3 and get a Stanley Cup ring despite not seeing any game time. Plasse would play second fiddle again to Dryden, playing 15 games in the 1973-74 season, going 7-4-2.

Plasse was left unprotected by the Canadiens for the 1974 Expansion Draft, which lead him to be claimed by the Kansas City Scouts. The 1974-75 season was a mixed bag for Plasse, who would get 24 games of action in and would go 4-16-3 for his troubles with the expansion team before getting a bit of a reprieve.

Plasse would be on the move again, as the Scouts would trade Plasse to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Denis Herron and Jean-Guy Lagace in January of 1975. Plasse would play 20 games behind former AGM Gary Inness and improve to a 9-5-4 record. Plasse would stay in Pittsburgh for the 1975-76 season playing 55 games in a starting role for the Penguins, going 24-19-10 and getting the Penguins to the playoffs-- where they would be outed in three games with Plasse going 1-2. Plasse would also play with the Hershey Bears for five games in the 1975-76 season, losing four of the five games there.

In some bizarre turn of events, there was a condition to the trade to Pittsburgh for Plasse, as he was return to the Kansas City Scouts as Herron re-signed with Pittsburgh in the summer of 1976. The Scouts, however, would move and become the Colorado Rockies for the 1976-77 season. Plasse would be the starter for the Rockies, playing 55 games for the still terrible team going 12-29-10 with the Rockies for the season. Plasse would only player 20 games (3-12-8) for the Rockies in the 1977-78 season, as Doug Favell would step up. Plasse would also be sent to the AHL and the Hampton Gulls for two games, going 0-1-1. Plasse would get more time in the 1978-79 season with the Rockies, playing 41 games, but the record was more of the same for the horrid Rockies, with Plasse ending with a 9-29-2 record. Also, Plasse would spend time with the Philadelphia Firebirds AHL team, playing seven games, going 0-6-1. Plasse would start the 1979-80 season with the Rockies, but after six games (0-3-2), he would be sent to the Fort Worth Texans of the Central League. Plasse went 9-13-3 in 32 games with the Texans, but would have a decent post-season, going 8-5 in the 14 games he played in.

Plasse would sign on with the Quebec Nordiques for the 1980-81 season, seeing 33 games as a starter before getting replaced by Dan Bouchard. Plasse would go 10-14-9 in his 33 games. At the start of the 1981-82 season, Plasse would start with the Nordiques, but would only play eight games (2-3-1) before being traded.

Plasse was traded to the Hartford Whalers for John Garrett in January of 1982 and would be sent down to the AHL's Binghamton Whalers. He would play eight games for Binghamton, going 3-3-1 before deciding to retire from the game.

Plasse didn't seem to be a part of the game much after retiring. Sadly, Plasse would pass away due to a heart attack on December 30, 2006. He was only 58.

While he had his moments in the sun, Plasse was only as good as the team in front of him, which didn't seem to be the case in most of his travels. However, he didn't seem to give up, even when the going was tough. He played to the utmost of his ability and when he was on, he was on. Plus, he was the first goalie to score a goal in the modern era, which no one can take away from his legacy.

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