"The Preacher" George Abbott

On November 27, 1943 George Abbott, an ordained Baptist minister, made his only NHL appearance.

Abbott doubled his preaching duties by being the Toronto Maple Leafs practice goalie. Back in these days teams only carried one goalie. If a goalie got injured they would often dress a skater in net or pull someone out of the stands, as long as the other team agreed to it. Teams would only object when there was another NHL goalie in the building.

That's what happened in 1943 when Bruins starting goalie Bert Gardiner became violently ill and could not play against the Leafs. Desperate, the Bruins asked Toronto if they could use Abbott for the game. The Leafs obliged. Maybe it was Abbott's reward for being a practice goalie. Maybe it was because the Leafs knew he wasn't that good, and they knew all of his weaknesses.

The Leafs won the game quite handily. 7-4 was the final score, with Abbott said to have faced 52 shots. Babe Pratt, with his Al MacInnis-like shot, knocked Abbott down, delaying the game.

Abbott was said to be a pretty goalie in his younger days, starring with the Dunnville Mudcats as a youth. A puck to the eye ended his career with the amateur Hamilton Tigers.


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