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NHL record watch: From Bob Froese to Kings rookie Martin Jones

December 23, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Bob Froese played for the Flyers from 1982-86.
Bob Froese played for the Flyers from 1982-86.

Senior pastor Bob Froese was getting some work done on his laptop and a hockey game was on TV in the background in what he likes to call his “man cave.”

When the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche went to a shootout on Saturday, Froese started paying closer attention to the riveting contest. He was interested to see how the goalies handled the one-on-one confrontation.

“It got to the shootout – which I think is just so exhilarating, [because] I didn’t have to do them,” Froese said. “All of a sudden, at the end of the game, they said this goaltender, [Martin] Jones, has tied the record for most wins" at the start of a career.

“It didn’t even dawn on me until I heard my name. It’s amazing. It caught me out of left field.”

Froese later came back to the “surreal” experience, saying: “I joked with my wife: ‘Is there another Bob Froese?’”

With eight wins in the first eight starts of his career, Kings rookie goaltender Martin Jones tied Froese’s modern-day record. Froese won his first eight starts with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1982-83 season.

Jones said after the Kings’ 3-2 win in the shootout that he wasn’t aware of the record. He has the chance to break the mark Monday night at Staples Center against the Dallas Stars.

It turned out that Froese had the game on only because the youngest of his four sons, who is 21, happens to be a Kings fan. Froese was talking about the experience in a telephone interview from his office on Monday afternoon at the Faith Fellowship Church in Clarence, N.Y., which is about half an hour away from Buffalo.

Froese went 9-0-1 to start his NHL career and suffered his first loss, at Buffalo on Feb 23, 1983. He went 17-4-2 with a goals-against average of 2.52 his rookie season.

“You get in there and everything is new and exciting,” he said. “You’re not blinking because you don’t want to miss anything. When you get on the ice, you’re so focused.  I was thinking about this and just reflecting on it, that this young goaltender [Jones], it’s really a time where you just want to sit back and just savor.

“Because it really never happens again like this. Everything is so new. It would be nice if you could always go eight-game stretches without losing. We always thought that we could win the game no matter what. I remember the first game I lost, in Buffalo here.

"It was 4-2 with a few minutes left in the game and I still thought we could win. You just have that sense … that things are going so well, why bother thinking anything negative.”

Froese was later traded to the New York Rangers, retired from the NHL after the 1989-90 season and worked in player development for two teams. Since 1998, Froese has been a senior pastor at Faith Fellowship Church.

In numerous other interviews, Froese said the loss of Philadelphia Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh, who was killed following a car crash in 1985, made a profound impact on his life. He spoke of it again on Monday.

“That day, it sounds clichéd, but that one day I gave my life truly to Jesus Christ,” he said. “It changed my whole perspective and the way I lived and the way I thought. I’m very thankful to be doing what I’m doing now.

“I always thought hockey was the epitome of my life and everything would be on the downslide after that. But that was just preparatory work for what I’m doing now.”

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