In a great piece from NHL.com's Randy Schultz, Lasorda talks about some of the hockey players he's met, and shares some interesting stories from his travels. One such story involves his encounter with Hall of Fame goaltender Jacques Plante.
"We were eating in a place that was located right on St. Catherine's street," said Lasorda, 80, and in his 56th season in the Dodgers organization. "He was talking to me about baseball catchers having a mask. He was drawing a mask on the table cloth. He asked me what I thought about goalies having a mask."
"He kept telling me about how those pucks would come pretty fast at him. And I believe that he was already thinking about a mask for goaltenders already at that time. And this was back in the mid-1950s. I think it was a couple of years before he developed his first mask."
"It's nice to think that maybe I played a small part in the development of Jacques' first mask."
Of course, it wouldn't be unlike Lasorda, a known motormouth, to take credit for something like that *cough*, but Plante had to get his inspiration from somewhere.
As a member of the Montreal Royals, Lasorda got to experience the height of the Montreal Canadiens dynasty, as well as the infamous 'Richard Riot'. Given how much hockey is a religion in that city, Lasorda couldn't help but get caught up in all of the excitement of the day. It certainly would have helped him deal with the much-smaller brawls on the baseball diamond.
Now, It's hard to imagine the roly poly fogey (I guess that Slim Fast didn't work out, huh?) as a hockey player, but Lasorda thinks he could have done it.
"I think I would have been a rather good defenseman," Lasorda said. "I would have been the type of defenseman who would have been a bit more defensive in his play. I would have been the guy who would take the opponent and drive them up against the boards. I don't think you would have seen me scoring too many goals."
If there is anyone who could appreciate the beating the average hockey player gets night in and night out, it has to be a baseball catcher.