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Red Wings Goalie Posted Shutout in NHL Debut

Former Detroit netminder Gatherum dead at 92

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Dave Gatherum, Red Wings
Dave Gatherum would post a shutout in his debut as Red Wings goalie in 1953.

During his Detroit Red Wings tenure, goaltender Dave Gatherum put up Hall of Fame numbers. The only problem was his NHL career would only last three games.

Gatherum who died last week at the age of 92, kept a clean sheet in his NHL debut. In his three starts, he’d never suffer a defeat.. His goals-against average was a paltry 1.00. For 58 years, he’d hold the NHL record for the longest shutout streak by a neteminder launching his career.

Early into the 1953-54 season, Red Wings goalie Terry Sawchuk took a three-stitch cut to the knee from the skate of Montreal Canadiens star Maurice (Rocket) Richard. Gatherum was called up from Sherbrooke of the Quebec League to take his place.

In his NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 11, 1953, Gatherum would turn in a 22-save shutout in a 4-0 Detroit victory.

“My knees were shaking so much, I thought I wouldn’t be able to stand up,” Gatherum told Associated Press.

During his second game, the Chicago Blackhawks would finally score on him in the third period of a 2-2 time. Gatherum’s shutout sequence of 100:21 stood as the NHL record from the start of a career until 2011.

Gatherum Won Stanley Cup With Red Wings

After beating the Blackhawks 2-1 on Oct. 17, with Sawchuk healthy, Gatherum was returned to Sherbrooke on October 20, 1953. However, he’d be back in Detroit as the club’s spare goalie during the Red Wings’ run to a Stanley Cup title in the spring of 1954. Though he didn’t play a single minute, Gatherum was given an inscription on Lord Stanley’s mug.

Some 53 years later, he’d even get a Stanley Cup ring. A package came to the Gatherum home in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Inside was his championship ring, along with a letter from Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch.

“We are very pleased to be able to acknowledge your past Stanley Cup Championship by presenting you with a 2008 championship ring. We sincerely thank you for the pride you brought to the team, the city of Detroit, and the State of Michigan, and we congratulate you on your accomplishment.

“Mike and Marian.”

Gatherum didn’t know what to say.

“It left us speechless,” Gatherum told the Toronto Star in 2009. “I was moved.”

Soon, he’d figure what he knew he had to say.

“I had to say thank you to someone, so I called the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and going through the switchboard, then a receptionist, I was put through to the executive offices,” Gatherum recalled to writer Ross Brewitt. “When I explained who I was, and why I was calling a man said, `Just hang on.’

“The next voice I heard said, `So, you received the ring?’”

It was Mike Ilitch.

Gatherum was inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.