Bernard Marcel "Bernie" Parent - Born April 3, 1945 in Montreal, Quebec is a retired Canadian professional ice Hockey goaltender.
Parent grew up in Montreal in the early 1950s and played pickup games on the street with a tennis ball. Somewhat of a loner as a kid, he liked playing goal. Remarkably, Parent didn't learn to skate until he was 11. In his first game as a kid, he sheepishly admitted he let in 20 goals, not a great start for someone aiming for the pros. But he had the dedication.
Parent played for the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA Junior A league. A two-time winner of the Dave Pinkney trophy (lowest goals against average or GAA), he wrapped up his junior career on the team that won the OHA championship and the Memorial Cup championship in 1965.
Parent began his career with the Boston Bruins in the 1965–66 season, appearing in 39 games. The following season was split between Boston and the Bruins' farm club in Oklahoma.
Left unprotected for the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft, Parent was chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers where he and Doug Favell, another former Bruin prospect, split the netminding duties for the Flyers' first season. Parent recorded a 2.48 GAA with four shutouts and the Flyers finished first in the NHL's West Division. Over the next two seasons, with Favell performing inconsistently or injured, Parent became the Flyers' #1 goalie and appeared in 58 and 62 games for the Flyers.
Looking for help up front to improve the club's offence, the Flyers dealt Parent to the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 1, 1971. The trade turned out to be a positive turn for Parent. In Toronto, Parent joined his boyhood hero, Jacques Plante, who at 42 was having an all-star season. Under Plante's tutelage, Parent became a more consistent and technically proficient goalie. Parent played well for the Leafs through the 1971–72 season, gaining valuable regular season and playoff experience.
Without a contract with the Leafs for the 1972-73 season, Parent signed a large contract with the Miami Screaming Eagles of the newly forming World Hockey Association. He was the first NHL player to jump to the new league. The Eagles did not materialize as planned, and instead became the Philadelphia Blazers. Parent faced a barrage of shots in 63 regular season games for the Blazers in the defensively weak league. After leaving the team over a contract dispute during the 1973 WHA playoffs, he sought a return to the NHL but did not wish to return to the Maple Leafs. Toronto traded Parent's NHL rights back to the Flyers for Favell and a first round pick in that summer's (1973) amateur draft.
The next two seasons were the greatest of his career and would see Parent record a combined 31 regular and post-season shutout victories. Hockey scribes have often cited Parent's play between 1973-1975 as some of the best ever seen in the game. Playing 73 games in a 78 game schedule, Parent sparkled in leading the league with a 1.89 GAA and 12 shutouts. He began the 1973-74 season with two shutouts besting Favell 2-0 in the season opener against Toronto in Philadelphia. He shared the Vezina Trophy with Chicago's Tony Esposito and was named a first team all-star as the Flyers skated to a first place finish in the West Division. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) and the Flyers won the first of 2 consecutive Stanley Cup Championships. The following year, he again posted 12 shutouts and won another Vezina Trophy, a second Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup. In both championship playoff runs, Parent shut out the opposition in the deciding 6th game of the Stanley Cup Finals defeating the Boston Bruins 1-0 in '74 and the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 in '75. "Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent" became a catch-phrase and bumper sticker in Philadelphia in those years.
As the Flyers prepared a run at the championship for a third consecutive year, Parent was sidelined by a pre-season neck injury requiring surgery and he appeared in only 11 games in 1975–76. Parent had pinched a nerve in his neck causing radiating pain. Doctors removed a disk and a section of bone hoping to alleviate the symptoms but Parent suffered from continued pain in his neck throughout the rest of his career. He returned to the lineup late in the season but he was inconsistent and could not regain the starting job from netminder Wayne Stephenson. Without Parent's Conn Smythe level performance that year, the Flyers fell in the Stanley Cup finals in four straight games to the Montreal Canadiens. Over the next three seasons, he experienced difficulties at times. Plante, although in retirement, continued to have a strong influence on Parent's career. Parent, like Plante, was a stand-up type goalie. At one point Parent was playing poorly and considering retirement. Plante watched him practice in Philadelphia for two days, then told Parent exactly what he was doing wrong: sitting back on his heels, backing into his crease and losing concentration. Parent heeded Plante's advice and returned to form. During the 1977-1978 season, he adopted the more confident, challenging style characteristic of his play during the Championship years posting a 2.22 GAA, a 0.912 save percentage and 7 shutouts in 49 games.
On February 17, 1979, Parent suffered a career-ending eye injury in a game against the New York Rangers. An errant stick entered the right eye hole of his mask, causing permanent damage to his vision. After hospitalization, including the complete loss of sight for two weeks, Parent recovered and eventually regained sight, although not at the level required to resume his playing career. He retired at age 34, an age considered to be "still in athletic prime" for goaltenders.
This incident, as well as the ending of Gerry Desjardin's career when a puck struck his eye in 1977, led many NHL goalies to switch from fibreglass facemasks toward the cage and helmet style, and resulted in many amateur and junior leagues banning fibreglass masks altogether, mandating the helmet/cage combo.
Parent spent several years in the Flyers organization as "special assignments" coach, notably to advise goalies, mentoring future Vezina-winning goalies Ron Hextall and the late Pelle Lindbergh, the latter of whom idolized Parent as a youngster in his native Sweden.
Today, Parent is employed by the Flyers as Ambassador of Hockey. He can be seen at Flyers home games on the concourse.
Parent played in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game, held on December 31, 2011. Parent started in goal for the Flyers, playing five minutes and letting in no goals on five shots including a breakaway by New York Rangers legend Ron Duguay. He was later named the first star of the game.
Parent previously held the mark for most wins in a season (47), surpassed by New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur during the 2006–07 season with 48 wins. His 47 win season in 1973–74 is still the record for most regulation time wins in a single season.
Parent did not have the benefit of overtime or shootouts or a longer season in his era.
The Philadelphia Flyers retired Parents jersey number 1 in his honor on October 11, 1979, the second jersey number the Flyers have retired.
Bernie Parent was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984
Awards and Achievements
Memorial Cup championship in 1965.
Selected to the WHA Second All-Star Team in 1973.
Selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1974 and 1975.
Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1974 and 1975.
Vezina Trophy winner in 1974 and 1975.
Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.
Played in 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, and 1977 NHL All-Star Games.
Class Guy Award Winner in 1979.
Inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
On January 27, 2017, in a ceremony during the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, Parent was part of the second group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history