Phil Myre

Phil Myre was drafted 5th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1966. However Myre quickly became the bottom man on the totem pole in Montreal. The Habs already had Rogie Vachon and Gump Worsley. They also had Tony Esposito just starting to break in and they had a kid still playing college hockey by the name of Ken Dryden.

Myre spent his first professional season in Houston, Texas where he played for the CHL's Apollos, an affiliate of Montreal. He excelled at that level, being named the league's top goalie in his rookie year. By 1969-70 he was elevated to the Habs chief affiliate team in the AHL and excelled there as well, rapidly improving his ranking in the organization. When Gump Worsley was moved to Minnesota early in the 1969-70 season, Myre earned a shot to play as Rogie Vachon's back up with the Habs. Although he did very well in his sporadic appearances (4-3-2 record with a puny 2.27 GAA in 10 games), in hindsight Myre wished he could have played more at the AHL level before jumping to the NHL. He would rather have been playing in the minors than warming the bench in the big league.

"That was really difficult for a 20 year old kid, not to be playing. I needed to play. The Voyageurs had a good team and going up to the Canadiens set me back quite a bit. I should have played more in the minor leagues."

Myre impressed the Habs enough to choose him over Esposito. In the summer of 1969, the Habs exposed and lost Tony O in the intra-league draft. It looked as though the Habs goaltending glut had been resolved. Myre would back up Vachon.

It started that way at least, but ended much differently. Myre had an okay season (13-11-4, 3.11 GAA, first NHL shutout) as Vachon did really well (23-12-9, 2.65 GAA, 2 shutouts) Yet the Habs weren't doing as well as they had hoped to be, and were in the search for a late season spark. That spark came when they called up a rookie by the name of Ken Dryden.

The Dryden story is now legendary. He came up without any NHL experience and took over the starting goalie role with 6 games left in the regular season and led the Habs to the Stanley Cup. Vachon dressed as the back up, relegating Myre to the press box. As a result, Myre does not have his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup.

After Dryden's fine performance, it came as no surprise that Dryden would become the Habs starter the following season. Vachon was traded to Los Angeles, while Myre would be Dryden's back up. Myre would only play in 9 games in the entire 1971-72 campaign.

Myre left Montreal in the 1972 expansion draft as the Atlanta Flames selected the Quebec native. Myre teamed with another Quebecois goalie in Dan Bouchard to form one of the better tandems in the 1970s. Despite playing on an expansion team, the two goalies brought instant respect to the Atlanta franchise. In the 6 seasons that Myre was there, the Flames never finished worse than sixth in goals against.

Myre and Bouchard had a friendly competition going in Atlanta. The two battled it out for the starters role for 6 years, but no one really was designated as the #1 goalie. The two formed one of the best combinations in nets and the Flames were smart in not breaking up that competition. The two drove each other to be as best as they could, and the Flames were the biggest winners.

"We knew if one guy had the chance to take over the other guy might not get back for a long time. So we both played hurt, we both played sick, but for six years nobody else ever dressed for a game."

Bouchard eventually won out as the goalie of choice as the Flames traded Myre with Curt Bennett and Barry Gibbs in a blockbuster deal to St. Louis. The Flames received Yves Belanger, Dick Redmond, Bob MacMillan and a high draft choice in return.

The Blues, who were in financial peril at the time, were a bad team. As a result, Myre's days in St. Louis are less than forgettable. In two seasons there he posted 20 wins, 47 losses and 16 ties and a GAA of about 4.00. Although he played well on a bad team, many people thought Myre was done as an NHL goalie.

The Philadelphia Flyers were interested in his services though, and traded Blake Dunlop and Rick Lapointe in 1979 to get him. Myre would split the season with Pete Peeters, who at the time was a rookie. There was no mistaking that Peeters was being groomed as the goalie of the future while Myre was there to be the veteran guide for him.

Peeters and Myre had an incredible season as the Flyers set an NHL record with 35 games without a loss. Myre went 10-0-6 during that streak and ended the year with a 18-7-15 record. He was also strong in the playoffs with a 5-1 record and a 2.50 GAA as the Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.

It was definitely a memorable year for Phil.

"That year Pat (coach Pat Quinn) played me in a lot of pressure games, tough games on the road. Pete was a first year man so in many cases I was getting a lot of the tougher games. I liked that kind of pressure."

Myre's stay in Philly was short as Peeters took over the number one role quickly. Myre was traded to Colorado and later signed with Buffalo, but he spent more time in the minors than he did with those two NHL clubs.

Myre remained active in the game after retirement, serving either as a scout, assistant coach and goaltending consultant for several organizations.


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