Began Wearing Goalie Mask
In 1959, Plante became the first goalie to wear a mask in games on a regular basis. (Clint Benedict of the Montreal Maroons had 29 years earlier, but it was short-lived experiment.) Many goalies of the era wore masks in practice, including Plante, but after his nose was broken by a hard shot in a game on November 1 in New York, he refused to come back in without his fiberglass face mask. Since there was no backup goalie with the team, Blake gave in. Plante insisted on wearing it in games from that day forward. While there were many detractors, including his own coach and teammates, Plante played better with it on. In the first 11 games in which he played with the mask, he only gave up 13 goals. Within a decade, the goalie mask became standard equipment in the NHL.
Though Plante had the mask and was still one of the leading goalies in the NHL, Montreal struggled (relatively) in the early 1960s. The team did not win another Stanley Cup with Plante in goal. In 1962, Plante won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player. His record was 42-14-14 with a 2.37 goals against average. In the 1962-63 season, the Canadiens finished only third overall, though Plante played well.