William Ronald "Bill" Durnan (1916-1972) (born January 22, 1916 in Toronto, Ontario - October 31, 1972) was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender who played for the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League (NHL). Durnan was an ambidextrous goalie, equally adept at using his right or left hand (he wore special gloves that permitted him to catch with either hand while still holding his Hockey stick. He was also the last goalie to be a Captain (hockey) in the National Hockey League, and one of only four ever with Chuck Gardiner, George Hainsworth and John Ross Roach. There is a picture of Turk Broda wearing the Captain's "C" but is actually wearing Toronto Team Captain Syl Apps's sweater.
Durnan only played seven seasons in the NHL, but accomplished much in his short career. Durnan was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender in each of his first four seasons, from 1943-44 NHL season to 1946-47 NHL season, becoming the first to capture the award in four successive seasons. A poor season by the Montreal Canadiens in 1947-48 NHL season allowed Turk Broda of the Toronto Maple Leafs to end Durnan's streak. However, Durnan returned to prominence the next season, capturing his fifth and sixth Vezina Trophy in 1948-49 NHL season and 1949-50 NHL season. Following the 1949-50 NHL season, Durnan abruptly retired, no longer able to stand the stress of playing professional hockey. He later went into coaching, most notably with the Ottawa Senators of the Quebec Senior Hockey League in 1950-51, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen of the OHA in 1958-59.
Durnan set a long-standing modern NHL record between February 26 and March 6, 1948-49 NHL season, when he amassed four consecutive shutouts, not allowing a goal over a span of 321 minutes, 21 seconds. This record was not surpassed until 2003-04 NHL Season, when Brian Boucher, then of the Phoenix Coyotes, broke it.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964. In 383 regular-season games, Durnan had 208 wins, and 112 losses, with 34 shutouts and a 2.36 goals-against average. He had 27 wins, and 12 losses, with 2 shutouts and a 2.07 average in 45 playoff games.
Durnan also won the 1940 Allan Cup with the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils.
Durnan died of kidney failure on October 31, 1972. He suffered from diabetes in his last years and his health had been failing steadily.
First All-Star Team goalie in 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950.
Won the Vezina Trophy in 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950.
Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1947, 1948, 1949
In spite of the relative brevity of his career, in 1998, he was ranked number 34 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
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