By: Alex Patt
It is always an interesting story when an athlete “blooms late” in any sport. It often tells a story of overcoming numerous challenges such as injuries or being told is not good enough. Blackhawks goaltender Jeff Glass is indeed one of these athletes.
Glass was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2004, and contributed to team Canada’s Gold Medal win in the 2005 World Juniors as the starting goalie. After that, it was over a decade of playing in the ECHL, AHL and KHL without seeing any action in the big show.
After playing eight years in the KHL, he returned in 2016-2017 when he singed with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and was sent to the Toronto Marlies (AHL). He was cut there eventually and then signed with the Rockford Ice Hogs. Now 32, Glass finally got his first NHL action last week in Edmonton and since then, he has made three starts with the Blackhawks as he fills in for the injured Corey Crawford. So far he is 2-0-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.98 GAA.
In Edmonton, he made 42 saves on 45 shots including stopping star Connor McDavid on a breakaway. The Blackhawks won in overtime on Patrick Kane’s nasty OT goal, giving Glass his first NHL win. He said in a postgame interview with Sportsnet that he was “At a loss for words” after accomplishing a huge life goal. Instead of looking at it in a negative way, he positively said that he was proud of how he got there and was still thrilled he got to be part of an NHL game.
“Not everybody’s path is the same. I’m pretty proud of my path, and it took me a while to get here but I’m happy I’m here now.” – Jeff Glass
Glass also has given thanks to his friends, family, coaches and others for keeping the hope alive after years of not making it. “[There] was a few bleak moments I’m sure where I didn’t believe it could happen,” Glass said. “But you know hard work and sticking to it and I got a great support group around me.”
As he played the next few nights, he got more attention Wednesday night after beating the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on NBC’s Wednesday Night Rivalry game. Glass made 23/25 saves as the Blackhawks won 5-2. Despite taking a bad delay of game penalty when he shot the puck into the stands, Glass had another good game. NBC’s Pierre McGuire interviewed Glass after the game, calling his situation a “feel good story.” Glass said that he likes the way the team is playing lately as they rack up points and says his mates and locker room are all great to be a part of.
After his first three games in the NHL, he was a special guest on the Bernstein and Goff show on 670 the Score. Glass said last year that he got to talk to former Blackhawk goalie Scott Darling, who also took a while to find the NHL himself. While Darling battled a lot more personal issues, it is cool to know that Glass got to look up to him before finally coming up this year. In fact, the Blackhawks in the Coach Q era have been known for goaltenders coming up as late-bloomers, including even Corey Crawford. If Glass keeps up his play, he should get most of the starts moving forward until Crawford returns.
Looking ahead, the Blackhawks finally see the United Center Friday as they welcome the Vegas Golden Knights. Next week the Blackhawks will go back to Edmonton, then Ottawa before returning for six straight home games.
Still waiting to hear updated news on Crawford…