The walls inside Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub in downtown St. Paul are adorned with memorabilia from the owner's hockey career. Tucked around the corner of the main dining area hangs a picture capturing a monumental upset in sports history.
It happened 50 years ago today — Oct. 14, 1971.
Tom Reid scored on a penalty shot against Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden.
"They should make it a national holiday," said Lou Nanne, Reid's North Stars teammate that night.
To properly grasp the magnitude of that feat, Nanne put the odds at 400,000 to 1.
"I think that's on the low side," Dryden said by phone this week.
Reid hit the jackpot that night. The rugged defenseman who scored only 17 career goals in 701 games squeezed a penalty shot past the great Montreal Canadiens goalie, something even Reid describes as a "fluke."
"I'm sure it's an embarrassing moment for him," he said.
Let's check …
"It is 50 years since I played my first game in the NHL and 50 years since winning the Stanley Cup for the first time and 50 years since Tom Reid's goal," Dryden said. "I guess you have to take the good with the humiliating. There are things you want to remember and things that you never want to remember."
If you can't tell, those involved still maintain self-deprecating humor and faux indignation about it five decades later. Nobody tells a story better than Reid, the Wild's radio analyst, and this one is a whopper.
“I shot at the net. If you hit the net, there's a chance it's going to be a goal, right? All those shots that go wide never seem to get credited for being a goal.”
Reid was a true defenseman. He stayed behind the blue line, defended, and then moved the puck to his forwards.
The story starts with him in the penalty box. As penalty time expires, he exits the box and the puck gets flipped ahead to him, giving him a rare breakaway.
"I was never one to look for points, I didn't care," he said.
Suddenly, he was all alone with the puck and Dryden in his sights. Gulp.
A Montreal player caught up and tripped him from behind, sending Reid crashing into the boards behind the goal. Referee Bruce Hood skated over to check on him.
Their exchange went as such:
Reid: I'm all right.
Hood: OK, you've got a penalty shot.
Reid: I don't want a penalty shot.
Hood: Well, you've got one.
Reid skated to his bench. North Stars coach Jack Gordon asked what was happening. No idea, Reid told him, hoping to escape the spotlight.
A frustrated Hood skated over to the bench and told Gordon to get moving, to send Reid out for the penalty shot.
"Jack looked at him, looked at me and then looked back at Bruce and said, 'Does he have to take it?'" Reid said.
Reid tried a different tack.
"Bruce," he said, "I think I broke my leg."
"He said, 'Get your butt out here because you've got a penalty shot and you're going to take it,'" Reid said.
Said Nanne: "It looked like Jack Gordon had a gas attack."
The North Stars trailed 1-0. Reid's teammates were hysterical in shouting out tips before he left the bench.
"It was like a comedy club giving him all these ideas," Nanne said.
Finally, Reid heard J.P. Parise roar, "Just shoot it and score."
It was a warm October day, so the ice was a little wet and sticky. Reid didn't have an exact plan. He remembers the Met Center crowd going "dead silent." He reached the hash marks between the circles and fired a wrist shot.
And then …
"I hear the roar of the crowd," he said. "I didn't even see it go in the net. I was almost embarrassed that I scored."
Fifty years later, Dryden is still incredulous.
"He didn't know what he was doing," Dryden said. "And because he didn't know what he was doing, I had no idea what he was doing."
Dryden said goalies are conditioned to find a "rhythm of the moment" when facing penalty shots. His rhythm was thrown out of whack by the unusual circumstances.
“It is 50 years since I played my first game in the NHL and 50 years since winning the Stanley Cup for the first time and 50 years since Tom Reid's goal. I guess you have to take the good with the humiliating.”
Next thing he knew, "the puck is sort of floating at me. It kind of drifts through my pads and into the net."
Reid hit his exact target.
"I shot at the net," he said. "If you hit the net, there's a chance it's going to be a goal, right? All those shots that go wide never seem to get credited for being a goal."
He quickly added: "I think it only bounced two or three times before it got there."
Reid skated to his bench to loud cheers. He looked at Gordon who was staring at him, presumably stunned.
"Jack," Reid yelled. "Was there ever any doubt?"
That was the only penalty shot goal Dryden allowed in his illustrious career.
"I was batting 1.000," Reid said. "He wasn't."
Turning serious, Dryden said Reid is the perfect character for this story. Dryden's older brother, Dave, was Reid's teammate in Chicago. Based on everything he's heard from his brother and friends in the hockey world, Dryden describes Reid as a "terrific teammate" and "beloved figure."
"It's the kind of thing that would happen to Tom," he said. "That he would be the guy to score this totally ridiculous goal."
Reid will mark the 50th anniversary by preparing for his radio broadcast of the Wild's season opener in Anaheim on Friday.
"I think this will be one of those weeks," he said, "that goes from Wednesday to Friday."