In an era where most fans couldn’t get any news of Kings games east of the Rockies, Vachon was the L.A. Kings.
How funny then, that most people don’t even remember his three Stanley Cups with Montreal, where he posted a playoff record of 15-5 and a 1.86 goals-against average.
A true pioneer for West Coast hockey, Vachon was the centerpiece for a 1974-75 Kings team whose 105-point season stood for over a quarter of a century.
And for all the offensive firepower the Pittsburgh Penguins exuded, they didn’t win one until they secured the final piece of the championship puzzle in Barrasso.
Barrasso led the NHL in shutouts and goals-against average in 1984-85 and his 14 consecutive Stanley Cup playoff wins might never be toppled.
It’s hard to determine where Mike Richter’s greatness truly began, in a career filled with low valleys and struggles. But to bet against the man was just foolish, as he shined on the biggest stage with the brightest of lights.
As New York’s leading man in net, the pressure was always on but the gratitude wasn’t always there for Mike Richter.
After allowing a soft goal to Ron Francis in the 1991-92 playoffs, Richter lost his starting job and was actually sent down for conditioning.
He would rebound and in 1993-1994 helped the Rangers end their 54-year drought as Richter reached the pinnacle of his NHL career. Coming into the playoffs, Richter and Bure had quite a few moments, but nothing quite like the penalty shot in Game 4.
Richter was an excellent goalie, who could rebound following any tough outing or bad circumstance—something not lost to USA coach Herb Brooks when looking for starters in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
His remarkable performance backing Team USA in the 1996 World Cup, and his performance in the Olympics following back-to-back knee surgeries, is a testament to Richter’s true ability.
Inside the Numbers : 1 Stanley Cup, 3 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Mike Richter is a great story of excellence from a long struggle to the pinnacle of his career. His save against Pavel Bure on the penalty shot in Game 7 was one for the ages, and quite possibly the greatest save Richter ever made.
27. Mike Vernon
had to put him in teal.. sorry flames fans
Mike Vernon is the consummate professional both on and off the ice, whose good natured personality belied his intense focus. A focus that would make itself readily available to anyone that dared to question Vernon, who was never one to mince words when pushed.
Carrying the Calgary Flames to their only Stanley Cup championship, Vernon was as “big game” as they got. Vernon thrived when the stakes were highest and didn’t have the word “quit” in his vocabulary.
Amid a season of question marks in the media, Vernon took the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe trophy a year after being swept by the New Jersey Devils.
Ending Detroit’s 42-year drought, Vernon ushered in a new era of Red Wing hockey, whose dominance arguably extends to this day.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe trophy, 1 William Jennings trophy, 5 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Vernon’s performance in the 1988-89 playoffs in the overtime frame of Game 7 vs. the Vancouver Canucks was one for the legends. Without his performance on three consecutive shots, the Calgary Flames would have been golfing early instead of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
He also led the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup over the Montreal Canadiens on Forum ice for the first time in Montreal franchise history.
26. Harry Lumley
Harry Lumley is one of the youngest and most superstitious players to ever play in the NHL, and could have been one of the greatest Red Wings of all time.
Instead, he was traded just months after winning the Stanley Cup in the 1949-50 season, and was replaced by Terry Sawchuk.
Posting 33 wins that year, Lumley put down the Rangers in a crucial Game 3 shutout that was played in Toronto due to the circus at MSG.
Inside the Numbers : 1 Stanley Cup, 1 Vezina trophies, 3 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : At 17 years and 38 days, Harry Lumley is the youngest goaltender to ever take NHL ice, and the first teenager to play in a Stanley Cup final.
25. Riley Hern
The first goaltender to win the most prized trophy in all of sports, Riley Hern played in Stanley Cup competition only after the Eastern Canada Hockey Association allowed it in 1906.
Riley won four straight Stanley Cups for the Montreal Wanderers and, although there isn’t much documentation about his career, he is widely renowed as one of hockey’s greatest.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 1 All-Star selection.
What sets him apart : Riley Hern was the first professional goalie to win the Stanley Cup.
24. Harry Holmes
Harry Holmes was a four-of-a-kind Stanley Cup champion, during an era where multiple leagues had a presence in professional hockey.
He is the first NHL Cup winner (Toronto Arenas, 1917-18) and the last Cup winner who didn’t play in the NHL (Seattle Metropolitans, 1916-17).
Playing for six total pro leagues, his career is definitely one of the most unique in professional hockey.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 8 All-Star selections.
What sets him apart : Holmes won the Stanley Cup four times, for four different teams from four different leagues.
23. Alex Connell
Alex Connell tended the net for Ottawa in the mid-20s and was the mark of excellence for many years. With a career goals-against of 1.91, Connell led the NHL in shutouts four times and won two Stanley Cups.
After being pulled during the 1932-33 season, Connell angrily left the ice and retired before being returning to the ice two years later.
Playing for Montreal Maroons, Connell shocked the hockey world by sweeping Toronto en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups.
What sets him apart : Alex Connell holds or is tied in NHL history with multiple distinctions in net, including double-digit shutouts in three consecutive seasons, and the most shutouts in a season.
22. Charlie Gardiner
Charlie Gardiner embodies the spirit of goaltending with his undying dedication to the sport and his teammates. There was no greater story in the NHL in 1933-34 than Gardiner’s swan song for the Chicago Blackhawks.
After falling to the Montreal Canadiens in the 1930-31 Stanley Cup finals, Gardiner fought through a nasty tonsil infection to lead Chicago to glory in 1933-34.
Closing out the Detroit Red Wings in four games, Gardiner never revealed his ailment to his teammates and battled through pain to deliver the Stanley Cup. His passed shortly after winning it all, to the shock of his teammates and hockey fans all over the world.
Inside the Numbers : 1 Stanley Cup, 2 Vezina trophies, 1 All-Star game.
What sets him apart : Charlie Gardiner is one of hockey’s most tragic heroes, who passed just two months from winning the Stanley Cup in 1933-34 for the Chicago Blackhawks.
21. Cecil Thompson
Cecil “Tiny” Thompson truly was just 5’9″ but grew bigger than life when the games counted the most.
His 1.88 goals-against average in Stanley Cup play defines his dominance, missing just one game in 10 NHL seasons shows his toughness.
Thompson’s finest season may have been the 1929-30 season where he won 14 straight games, and posted a .875 winning percentage.
Tiny Thompson won his first five Stanley Cup games, and backstopped the Bruins to first place six times in nine years.
Inside the Numbers : 1 Stanley Cup, 4 Vezina trophies, 1 All-Star game.
What sets him apart : Tiny Thompson was one of the first goalies to use their catching glove to make the save.
20. Gerry Cheevers
Gerry Cheevers put aside individual accomplishments and kept his eyes on the true prize in professional hockey, the Stanley Cup.
After taking over the starting role in 1967 for the Boston Bruins, Cheevers made his mark in the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup finals, establishing his dominance by winning it all.
Following one of his greatest regular seasons in 1972, Cheevers jumped ship to the WHA and dominated for the Cleveland Crusaders before returnig to the NHL in 1976.
Dominating both leagues, Cheevers led the Bruins out of the terrible decade of the 60s and established Boston as a powerhouse during the 1970s.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 1 All-Star game.
What sets him apart : Cheevers posted a 32-game unbeaten streak in the 1971-72 season, and also has one of the most coolest goalie masks of all time.
19. Johnny Bower
Johnny Bower spent the prime of his career with the AHL Cleveland Barons, and repeatedly turned down the overtures of the New York Rangers until finally relenting in 1952.
After toiling for the struggling Rangers, Bower became disenchanted and returned to the Cleveland Barons. Bower needed convincing to return to the NHL after the Toronto Maple Leafs claimed him in the 1958 intraleague draft.
Thankfully for the city of Toronto, Bower did return and at the age of 35 enjoyed a remarkable level of success winning four Stanley Cups.
His finest season may have been 1967, where the Maple Leafs won the Cup with the oldest roster in NHL history. Combining with Terry Sawchuk, Bower posted a .951 save percentage at the age of 42 to win it all against the Montreal Canadiens in six.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 2 Vezina trophies, 4 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Johnny Bower didn’t begin his Maple Leaf career until he was 35, and played well into his 40s setting a bar of excellence that defied his age. His Maple Leafs in 1967 rebounded from two blowout losses handed to them by the Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup.
18. Grant Fuhr
Grant Fuhr was the most difficult goaltender to grade on this slide. After all, how can you exactly quantify his goaltending prowess playing with the powerhouse Oilers in the 80s?
One of the hardest working players on the Oiler team, Fuhr labored to get out from the huge shadow cast by the many Hall of Famers in front of him.
While the Oilers freewheeled in front of him, Fuhr stymied his opponents and came up with the spirit-crushing saves on a regular basis.
His play in net gave the Oilers the very chance to set all those records and win all those Cups, and got them over the Islander hump in 1983-84. Outscoring the New York Islanders 19-6 in the series, Fuhr gave them the stops they needed to spark one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history.
Inside the Numbers : 5 Stanley Cup, 1 Vezina trophies, 1 Jennings trophy, 6 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Grant Fuhr was the last line of defense on a team that often forgot to play it, and gave the Oilers timely goaltending that was the foundation of their dynasty.
Also a pioneer in breaking down the color barrier in hockey, Fuhr paved the way for many dynamic players we root for today. His career rivals that of any goaltender to ever strap on the gear, during an era where black players were not commonplace in the NHL.
17. Tony Esposito
The greatest goaltender in Chicago Blackhawk history, Tony Esposito holds just about every imaginable record for the franchise.
With an embarrassment of riches in net, Montreal left Esposito unprotected in 1969, and the Blackhawks claimed a cornerstone of franchise history.
Recording fifteen shutouts in his first year, Esposito fell just short in Game 7 that season, against the very same Canadiens team he left. He made it again in the 1972-73 season despite losing Bobby Hull, but fell again to the Canadiens in six.
With seven consecutive 30-win seasons, Esposito was the workhorse for the Blackhawks placing first or second in games played multiple times throughout his Chicago career.
Inside the Numbers : 1 Stanley Cup, 3 Vezina trophies, 1 Calder trophy, 6 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Tony Esposito was the first ever goalie to beat the Soviets in the Summit Series of 1972 for Team Canada.
16. Gump Worsely
Gump Worsely spent the better part of his career backstopping the New York Rangers and won a Calder trophy in 1952. Following a contract dispute for the ever-popular number of 500 dollars however, he was returned to the WHL the following season.
Called back up in 1954, Worsley beat out Johnny Bower to take the nets once more for the struggling Rangers. Failing to advance out of the first round for the first half of his distinguished career, Worsely toiled when traded to the Montreal Canadiens in the summer of 1963.
Called one of the funniest men in hockey, Worsely hated to fly and, unlike his peers, did not wear a mask.
He flourished in Montreal and enjoyed a career year in 1968 where he posted a career-low 1.98 goals-against and won 11 straight times in the postseason. Rebounding from the loss against Terry Sawchuk and the Maple Leafs a year previous, Worsely and the Canadiens swept the Scotty Bowman-led Blues in the finals.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 2 Vezina trophies, 1 Calder trophy, 4 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Gump Worsley won four Stanley Cups, but couldn’t get out of the first round in his first 10 years as a professional. He was also the first goaltender to win 300 and lose 300 games.
Frank Brimsek enjoyed immediate success as a rookie for the Boston Bruins, and is one of the greatest U.S.-born goaltenders of all time.
Brimsek was nicknamed “Mr. Zero” after posting a pair of three-game shutout streaks in his first month.
He had big shoes to fill as Art Ross sold Tiny Thompson to the Detroit Red Wings, but delivered in grand style as a rookie.
He won the Calder trophy, the Vezina and the Stanley Cup in his rookie year and immediately soothed over the fan outrage for Thompson’s departure.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 2 Vezina trophies, 1 Calder trophy, 6 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Frank Brimsek is the only rookie goaltender in NHL history to win the Calder, Vezina and Stanley Cup in one year.
14. Clint Benedict
Another great pioneer in goaltending, Clint Benedict fought the rules that once penalized a goaltender for falling to the ice to block a shot.
Innovator, pioneer, or genius? Clint Benedict would feign falling to the ice at times, making it increasingly difficult for officials to differentiate and call the minor penalty.
Benedict was the first NHL goalie to record back-to-back shutouts, as well as the first to post three straight Stanley Cup shutouts.
With 15 total career playoff shutouts, Benedict won four Stanley Cups for the Ottawa Senators—the first of which came directly after the abandoned Stanley Cup finals of 1918-19.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups.
What sets him apart : Clint Benedict was one of the original pioneers of hockey and one of the grandfathers to the modern day goaltending we watch today.
13. Turk Broda
Maple Leafs manager Conn Smythe accidently stumbled upon our 13th greatest goaltender of all time, when he went looking for George Hainsworth’s replacement in net. Turk Broda outplayed Smythe’s original target, a fateful game for both Broda and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While weight issues dogged the Manitoba native, he was dominant when he needed to be and his five Stanley Cups prove it. If you compare his career numbers against the dominant goalie of their generation in Bill Durnan, the two are very comparable in the same time frame.
In the 1950 semifinals, Broda recorded three shutouts against the Detroit Red Wings, only to fall 1-0 in the overtime frame of Game 7.
Turk Broda is one of the greatest playoff goaltenders of all time, having played in eight Stanley Cup finals and winning five. His impact in those 101 games is undeniable, putting up a 1.98 goals-against average and recording 13 shutouts.
Inside the Numbers : 5 Stanley Cups, 2 Vezina trophies, 4 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Turk Broda became the first goaltender in franchise history to reach 200 career victories as a member of the Maple Leafs.
12. Georges Vezina
One of the original 12 players elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Joseph-Georges Vezina played 367 consecutive games for the Canadiens and had one of hockey’s greatest trophies named after him.
His 1.97 goals-against average in 1923-24 was the first under 2.0 in league history, and in the playoff opener recorded 78 stops for the shutout victory over Ottawa.
Playing through pain and injury, Vezina is one of hockey’s most heroic icons of all time. In his last game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1925-26 season, Vezina collapsed suffering from an arterial hemorrhage but refused to leave the game.
It wasn’t until they carried him off the ice that Vezina was notified by doctors that he was dying of tuberculosis. A true warrior to the very end, he insisted that none of his teammates be notified before their game in fear that it may distract them.
He passed away quietly at the young age of 39, one of the greatest goaltenders of all time.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups.
What sets him apart : The Canadiens rode Vezina to back-to-back Stanley Cup finals in the 1924 and 1925 seasons, and failed to qualify for the playoffs the year after Vezina was forced to retire.
11. George Hainsworth
Opening up the top ten in our ranking, George Hainsworth is yet another Montreal Canadiens goaltender who was spectacular in the mid 1920s. On Aug 23, 1926, the Montreal Canadiens purchased Hainsworth from the Saskatoon Crescents of the WHL, adding another chapter to Canadiens lore.
During an era where statistics weren’t exactly the NHL’s strong suit, Hainsworth was as dominant as they came. He recorded 22 shutouts in just 44 regular season games, and owned a shutout sequence of over 343 minutes straight.
His 94 career shutouts puts him third in all-time NHL history. On Mar 19, 1927, the Canadiens became the first NHL team to shut out the same opponent four straight times with a 5-0 win over the Montreal Maroons.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 3 Vezina trophies,1 All-Star game.
What sets him apart : George Hainsworth recorded an incredible 22 shutouts and a 0.92 goals-against average in 1928-29 for the Montreal Canadiens.
10. Bernie Parent
Bernie Parent is the only goaltender to ever win back-to-back Conn Smythe trophies as playoff MVP, but had his promising career derailed by multiple injuries. Despite drafting Parent in the expansion draft of 1967, the Flyers moved him to Toronto only to have Doug Favell falter for Philadelphia after being handed the starting job.
Trading the popular Favell to Toronto for Bernie Parent was one of the most important decisions in Philadelphia franchise history.
Widely considered one of the best goaltenders in the mid-70s, a back injury slowed his progress in 1974. Shortly after his injury, an unfortunate incident with the stick of New York Rangers forward Don Maloney forced Parent to leave the game for good.
Clipping Parent in the right eye, this unfortunate accident derailed a once promising career with seemingly no limitations.
Always overshadowed by Bobby Clarke and the Broad Street Bullies, Parent was an unstoppable force before his early retirement.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 2 Vezina trophies, 2 Conn Smythe trophies, 5 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Parent’s career, while short, was one of the brightest and most promising careers of all time—who knows what he could have accomplished had his career not been shortened.
9. Bill Durnan
Bill Durnan’s Hall of Fame career can be marked by many several accomplishments, but can often be drowned out in the many names in Montreal Canadiens history. Winner of six Vezina trophies, Bill Durnan’s career was relatively short at seven years—and only Jacques Plante won more Vezinas.
Durnan also set a NHL record with four consecutive shutouts in 1948-49 and backed the Canadiens to two Stanley Cups.
In 1950, Bill Durnan became the first Canadiens goaltender to record 200 victories after a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Durnan cut his career short following the Stanley Cup semifinals against the New York Rangers where he asked Montreal coach Dick Irvin Sr. to remove him from the game. After being clipped in the head by a skate, and mounting pressure to win in the face of elimination, Durnan abruptly hung up the skates.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 6 Vezina trophies, 6 All-Star selections.
What sets him apart : Another goaltender whose Montreal career ended unceremoniously, Durnan was one of the NHL’s very best when he decided to retire.
8. Billy Smith
Billy had Gretzky's number.. and he knew it
A cornerstone during the New York Islander dynasty, Billy Smith backstopped the Islanders to the Stanley Cup in the 1979-80 season.
One Bob Nystrom overtime slapshot kicked off a four-year run by New York before finally falling to the Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983-84 playoffs.
During this stretch, nobody was as clutch as Billy Smith who dominated in the playoffs with his fiery nature and creative stickwork. He’s also one of the very few goalies that ever had Wayne Gretzky’s number as the Islanders dominated the young Oilers for many years.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 1 Vezina trophy, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy, 1 Jennings trophy, 1 All-Star game.
What sets him apart : Billy Smith set a NHL record by winning 19 consecutive Stanley Cup playoff series.
7. Ken Dryden
Ken Dryden checks in at No. 7 on our list of the 50 greatest goaltenders of all time, and I must admit it was difficult placing this man this low.
His Hall of Fame career is paced by a .743 winning percentage, he won the Conn Smythe trophy before winning the Calder, and won six Stanley Cups in just seven full seasons. Many may argue his shortened career made it difficult to warrant ranking above Hall and Hasek, despite Dryden’s excellence.
His legendary stance in net and huge frame were hallmarks of his storied career, and he dominated in the playoffs. He dismantled the juggernaut Bruins in the first round led by Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr, just one year after they won it all.
In perhaps one of his greatest performances, Dryden shut down a NHL record-breaking Bruins squad that boasted the NHL’s top four leading scorers in Esposito, Orr, Bucyk and Ken Hodge.
All this while having only logged six games total in his rookie season, Dryden is one of hockey’s immortal goaltenders.
Inside the Numbers : 6 Stanley Cups, 5 Vezina trophies, 1 Conn Smythe trophy, 1 Calder trophy, 5 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : One of the most intelligent players to take the pipes, Dryden was as excellent as he was unconventional. His knowledge of the game allowed him to be mentally prepared and ready for any circumstance. Had he played longer, he could be the best goalie of all time.
6. Glenn Hall
Often referred to as “Mr Goalie,” Glenn Hall is one of hockey’s greatest goaltenders and holds a dominant iron-man streak that rivals any sport at 501 consecutive games. One of the true NHL untouchable records, Hall’s streak is undoubtedly one of his most impressive achievements.
When you account for his playoff games, the number swells to 552, which is pretty impressive. But when you consider the fact that 16 of his 18 NHL seasons were spent without wearing a goalie mask, the record becomes extraordinary.
The pioneer of the butterfly style that we see today, Glenn Hall truly is “Mr. Goalie.”
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 3 Vezina trophies, 1 Conn Smythe trophy, 1 Calder trophy, 13 All-Star games.
What sets him apart : Hall was a trailblazer for modern day goaltending, developing the butterfly style and dominated for years doing it. He never once recorded a goals-against average below 2.97, and during seven years of play led the league five times in shutouts, for a grand total of 45.
5. Dominik Hasek
The Dominator is one of the greatest and most unorthodox goaltenders we’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and his nickname couldn’t describe the man any better.
Hasek is one of only three players in NHL history to win both the Vezina and Hart trophies, and in 1998 became the first goaltender to win consecutive Hart trophies.
Hasek may have been the league’s biggest kept secret in the early 90s, and was a relative unknown when he was inserted in relief of Ed Belfour in Game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup finals.
While his career spanned several teams, he became the first European goaltender to win a Stanley Cup while backing the Detroit Red Wings.
His most remarkable feat may be the 1998 Nagano Olympics as he led his Czech team to the Gold medal, prompting Wayne Gretzky to label him the “the best player in the game.” Posting a 0.97 goals-against-average and a .961 save percentage against some of the best players the world had to offer, could very well rank as his greatest accomplishment
His famous “Hasek-flops” and desperation saves highlight a style all his own, ranking Hasek among the greatest goaltenders of all time.
Inside the Numbers : 2 Stanley Cups, 6 Vezina trophies, 2 Hart trophies, 3 Jennings trophies.
What sets him apart : Hasek was one of the greatest goalies of all time. In a April 27, 1994 quadruple-overtime game against the Devils, he recorded 70 saves for the win.
A record that still stands today and a mere glimmer of true greatness that was Hasek’s career. Hasek was also robbed of a third Stanley Cup following the controversial Brett Hull goal allowed in the third overtime frame.
4. Jacques Plante
Plante is one of the foremost pioneers of goaltending in the NHL, and his career numbers and accomplishments speak for themselves.
Apart from his terrific play, he popularized the use of the hockey mask after taking an Andy Bathgate slapshot to the face and breaking his nose on November 1, 1959.
Plante was also one of the first goaltenders to play the puck outside the crease in support of his defensemen, stop the puck behind the play, and raise his arm to inform his teammates of the icing call.
His play revolutionized the position, effectively adding another defenseman to aid in clearing the zone and transitioning the play the other way.
Aside from his remarkable run in 1955-1960, in which he led the Montreal Canadiens to five consecutive Stanley Cups, Plante also won a staggering seven Vezina trophies.
Yet another goaltender who followed the beat of a different drum, Plante was not without his odd quirks which ultimately led to his exit out of Montreal.
After a long series of run-ins with his coaches and members of the Canadiens, Plante was traded to the New York Rangers on June 4, 1963.
Inside the Numbers : 6 Stanley Cups, 7 Vezina trophies, 1 Hart trophy.
What sets him apart : Plante is a true innovator of goaltending in the NHL and one of the very best to ever inbetween the pipes. He was the first to introduce many facets of play we now take for granted from goaltenders in the modern NHL.
3. Martin Brodeur
There isn’t much left for Martin Brodeur to accomplish professionally, as he’s climbed every mountain and overcome every valley imaginable for a NHL goalie.
Currently the NHL leader in all-time wins, playoff shutouts, most minutes played, regular season shutouts and games played, Brodeur is also the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons. It would take up half this page to list all of his individual accomplishments, his career has been that great.
With trends in the NHL pointing towards younger, cheaper options, goaltenders like Brodeur may be a dying breed in the nets.
After growing up around the Montreal Canadiens because of his father Denis Brodeur, Martin fittingly idolized Patrick Roy growing up. He’s gone on to tie or beat many of Roy’s records, and isn’t done as he prepares for his 21st year in the NHL.
Neutral zone trap or no, Martin Brodeur is the hallmark for excellence when it comes to goaltending in the NHL.
His skills may not be what they once were, but Brodeur may have pushed the bar of goaltending excellence beyond anyone’s reach in the forseeable future.
Inside the Numbers : 3 Stanley Cups, 4 Vezina trophies, 1 Calder trophy, 5 Jennings trophy winner.
What sets him apart : Brodeur is one of the best puckhandling goalkeepers of his era, if not the best ever, and forced the NHL to adapt their rules to limit his impact with the puck.
2. Terry Sawchuk
Somber, solemn and silent, Terry Sawchuk is one of hockey’s most memorable figures in net. Nicknamed “Yukey” from his Ukrainian heritage, he led Detroit to three Stanley Cup titles in just five years and is one of the greatest ever.
During the 1951-52 playoffs, Sawchuck’s performance was one for the ages as he allowed just five goals over a eight game span. Recording four shutouts during that playoff run, Sawchuk was the force behind the Red Wings sweeping both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens en route to the Stanley Cup.
As tremendous as his career and play was, his story is one of tragedy and ultimate sacrifice in the name of team success. Numerous injuries took their toll, slowly robbing Sawchuk of his health and way of living but never stopping him from playing for his team.
After Detroit general manager Jack Adams ordered Sawchuck to lose weight before the 1951-52 season, the goaltender struggled with his weight and illness. Traded to the Boston Bruins in the summer of 1955, Sawchuk contracted mononucleosis late in 1956 and retired from hockey after a long struggle with his health.
Sawchuk returned after being acquired by the Red Wings in 1957, wearing the winged wheel for seven more seasons before being claimed by Toronto in the intraleague draft.
At the ripe age of 37, Sawchuk teamed with Johnny Bower to deliver a Stanley Cup championship to the heavy underdog, the Maple Leafs.
One of the greatest goaltenders of all time, Sawchuk could stop everything but was haunted by his own personal struggles and serious health conditions.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 4 Vezina trophies, 1 Calder trophy, 1 Lester Patrick trophy.
What sets him apart : Sawchuk is the toughest goaltender to ever strap on the pads. During an age where playing goaltender could break a man’s spirit, he dominated when the stakes were highest.
In an age where goaltender equipment was barely functional and you had no backup to relieve you, Sawchuk was dominant.
1. Patrick Roy
You’ll get a lot of responses from experts and fans alike regarding Patrick Roy, good or bad. As great as he was, he committed his share of mistakes both on and off the ice. But his will to win is one thing that you cannot deny, one trait even his most ardent detractors cannot refuse.
St. Patrick may not be the perfect goaltender, but when it came to winning in the NHL he’s the greatest of all time.
His confidence and poise in the face of adversity was tremendous, and his ability to win was unparalleled. His on-ice swagger was every bit the weapon that his blocker or glove was, and nobody was tougher mentally.
Patrick Roy simply imposed his will to win regardless of situation or odds, and thrived when directly challenged.
Holding a 2-0 series lead in the 1993 playoffs, Quebec Nordiques goaltender coach Daniel Bouchard foolishly claimed that they had found Roy’s weakness. And Quebec found out the hard way that Patrick Roy didn’t just want to prove you wrong, he wanted to embarrass you while doing it.
The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Nordiques by winning the next four games, and went on to beat the Kings for the Stanley Cup. Roy was incredible, winning 10 straight overtime contests, three against the Gretzky-led Kings in the Stanley Cup finals for his first Conn Smythe trophy and Stanley Cup.
With an indomitable competitive spirit and an unquenchable thirst for victory, Roy was his best when stakes and pressure was greatest.
Inside the Numbers : 4 Stanley Cups, 3 Vezina trophies, 3 Conn Smythe trophies, 5 Jennings trophies.
What sets him apart : Patrick Roy is the only player in NHL history to win three Conn Smythe trophies. He’s also one of only three goalies with 900 games, and also holds the NHL record with 12 30-win seasons.