Tuesday

Gilles Gratton

Gilles Gratton was a pretty good goalie from an early age. Dick Irvin, the famous Hockey Night In Canada broadcaster first knew of him as early as the age of 12. Gratton went on to star in the OHA and WHA, as well as appearing in the NHL before retiring at the early age of 24.But the interesting stories of Gilles Gratton lies in Gratton the man, not the hockey player.

Gilles claimed that he knew all about his previous lives. An obvious believer in reincarnation, Gratton could describe in great detail events that happened in his previous lives.

In one interview with Marv Albert, Marv asked him about one of his many nicknames - the Count.

"Well, I've got something to tell you," Gratton began to explain. "In my last life I was a Spanish Count and one of the things I loved to do when I was a count in Spain was take all the commoners, line them up against a wall and throw rocks at them."

Can you imagine the look on Marv's face?!

But this wasn't the only past life that Gratton claimed to have stoned people to death. He also claimed he did similar things in a life during the biblical times.

Gratton once claimed that maybe being a professional hockey goalie was punishment for his bad habits in past lives. After all, having frozen pieces of rubber coming at you at 90 miles an hour is probably as close as you can get to getting stoned to death in today's day and age.

In his only full NHL season, Gratton split the New York Rangers schedule with fellow goalie John Davidson. "J.D." remembers Gratton well.

"He was a pretty good goalie, a pretty talented player. But he was a piece of work all right. A real piece of work" said Davidson.

While living with Gratton, Davidson pointed out to an incident that makes you wonder if Gratton really does have past lives.

"He'd just walk in, drop his coat on the floor and go right over to the piano. He could play classical piano and had never taken a lesson in his life! And I mean heavy classical music!"

Some other weird things about the man they called "Grattoony the Loony," among other things:

- Gilles once refused to play goal because the moon was in the wrong place in the sky.

- Gilles had a habit of hanging out naked after practices. He often threatened to do a complete strip show in the last game of the 1976-77 season. Despite his teammates yelling at him to actually do it, Gilles fortunately didn't!

- John Davidson would tell stories of how Gilles didn't really want to play. He is convinced that Gilles hated the game of hockey. He would often fake illness in order to convince the coach not to put him in the nets, although no one ever believed him.

- Gilles once explained his recurring abdominal pains by claiming that he was a reincarnated soldier from the Spanish Inquisition. He told The Hockey News in 1977 - "I've seen it in my mind. Was I a knight? No, just a simple soldier. But I was killed when I was run through with a lance."

Gratton quit hockey at the age of 24. The last time anyone had heard from him he was living in some old abandoned castle in Europe somewhere and was apparently a photographer.

Despite all the crazy antics, Gilles did have the hockey talent. He was an All Star in his last year of junior hockey. He played three years in the World Hockey Association for three years, compiling a respectable 81-66-7 record (with 4 shutouts and a career 3.69 GAA) in 161 contests. He was even part of the WHA Summit Series team that took on the Soviets in 1974, although he only saw 2 minutes of action.

His NHL numbers are a little less impressive. He played in 6 contests for the St. Louis Blues in 1975-76, sporting a 2-0-2 record and a 2.49 GAA. He actually retired in November of that season because he didn't want to play for the Blues, and instead wanted to return the WHA Toronto Toros. The Blues blocked any attempt for him to rejoin the WHA, and Gilles was forced to sit out out the rest of the season.

The following year Gilles became an unrestricted free agent, and signed with the New York Rangers. He appeared in 41 games, winning 11 while losing 18 and tying 7. His GAA ballooned to 4.22

Gratton, the brother of former Buffalo Sabre and Minnesota North Star Norm Gratton, retired for good after playing just one game with the AHL New Haven Nighthawks in the 1977-78 season.

3 comments:

Anonymous,  10:31 AM  

There's a mural of this guy at the San Diego Ice Arena. you can see it here: www.jasonluper.com/sdia.html

I thought it was pretty cool.

Greg Ehrlich 12:07 AM  

Once with the Rangers there was a faceoff in Grattons end of the ice. Before the puck was dropped Gratton started roaring like a lion(wearing the lion mask). The Ranger players started laughing, lost the face off and the other team immediately scored.

Tony 11:23 AM  

Maybe the WORST goalie to ever put on a mask for the Rangers, or anyone else! I cant believe he only played ONE season for them-seems like he played an eternity! Apparently the Lion IS sleeping,,tonight, and every other night!

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