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Gump Worsley; Hall of Famer was goalie for fabled Canadiens

Gump Worsley protected the net for the New York Rangers before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. (associated press file/1955)

MONTREAL -- Gump Worsley, the Hall of Fame goalie who didn't wear a mask until the final season of his 21-year NHL career, died at his home Friday in Beloeil. He was 77.

Mr. Worsley had a heart attack Monday, The Montreal Gazette said.

Born Lorne John Worsley in Montreal in 1929, he was tagged with the "Gump" moniker as a child because his hair stuck up like Andy Gump, the comic strip character.

At 5 feet 7, Mr. Worsley began his NHL career in 1952-53, winning the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year with the New York Rangers. He helped his hometown Montreal Canadiens win four Stanley Cup titles in a five-year span and finished his career with the Minnesota North Stars in 1973-74 -- playing only his final six games with a mask.

"He was a terrific goaltender," former North Stars teammate Lou Nanne said. "If I could pick any goalie to win a big game, it would be Gump."

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980, Mr. Worsley was 335-352-150 with a 2.88 goals-against average and 43 shutouts in 861 regular-season games. In the playoffs, he was 40-26 with a 2.78 GAA and five shutouts.

"He was one of the first real characters in the NHL," Nanne said. "He had a lot of personality and really showed the human side of the game. He didn't look like an athlete and smoked like a chimney between periods, but he was terrific when he put the pads on."

Acquired by Montreal from the Rangers in a 1963 trade that sent fellow Hall of Fame goalie Jacques Plante to New York, Mr. Worsley won 29 of 36 playoff games in helping lead the Canadiens to Stanley Cup titles in 1965, '66, '68, and '69.

Mr. Worsley won the Vezina Trophy in 1966 and 1968 as the NHL's top goalie and played in the All-Star game in 1961, '62, '65, and '72. He holds the NHL record for career losses.

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