NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes , in conjunction with the new Canada Post goaltender stamp series, provides his insight into the position he played for 11 seasons in the League.
This week, Weekes discusses goaltenders who played in different generations he wishes he could have seen play against one another.
It's always fun to think about how athletes in different eras would have fared against each other. Think about how cool it would have been to see Babe Ruth face Clayton Kershaw, or Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan going 1-on-1.
Well, there are plenty of those matchups I would like to have seen on the ice involving goalies. In each of the three fantasy meetings that intrigue me, the goalies have a connection to one another.
Ken Dryden vs. Carey Price
Dryden had a real unique path to the NHL, going to Cornell, being dominant in NCAA hockey, and getting called up to the Montreal Canadiens and starting right away. Of course, Tony Esposito was a college goalie, but there weren't that many college goalies at that time who were playing in the NHL. Between that and his size (6-foot-4), he was a pioneer without knowing it and was leading the evolution at his position. You started to see bigger goalies. Dryden was way ahead of his time. And all the success that he had … beyond an amazing career. He's had such an imprint on the history of the Canadiens. A part of those Montreal teams of the 1970s, he won the Stanley Cup six times.
Then you fast-forward to Price. I remember in 2004, Olaf Kolzig and Stu Barnes, who played their junior hockey for Tri-City of the Western Hockey League and who were part owners of the team, were practicing with Price prior to the NHL season, and Kolzig saying he basically thought Price was ready to play in the NHL. The unique combination of size, skill, technique, athleticism, hockey IQ, ability to play the puck. You look at that and you look at his ascension to where he is now; he goes into Hamilton, which was the Canadiens' American Hockey League team, and was the playoff MVP on the road to the Calder Cup Final in 2007 fresh out of junior as a call-up, not to mention the epic World Junior Ice Hockey Championships shootout against the USA (2007) and the gold medal in Sochi (2014).
I really think that Price is a modern version of Dryden, so it would have been a treat to see them play each other. Dryden said he loves watching Price play. He loves his composure and his ability to play in such a calm way that makes him seem so effortless. So far, the Canadiens are 9-0-0, and Price has won seven games. Media asked Price how he would top last season after winning the Vezina and Hart trophies, and Price said he would be better. The only thing he hasn't done yet is win the Cup. That's not something you can win on your own. He's won at every other level. Price's season in 2014-15 was arguably the best individual performance in terms of any Canadiens goalie ever. It's interesting when you look at Dryden being the first real big goalie and then Price now being the model of that.
Mike Richter vs. Jonathan Quick
I remember watching Richter play with the U.S. national team, then the Olympic team and then when he got called up to the New York Rangers, just how fun he was to play. He was so dynamic, so explosive and athletic, and competed on every puck. A full max-effort goalie. I remember watching him and John Vanbiesbrouck and the decision the Rangers made to retain Richter and allow Vanbiesbrouck to be subject to the expansion draft. Richter was so fun to watch. I remember the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, what he meant to the Rangers and what he did for USA Hockey.
Quick has said that Richter was his idol. Growing up in Connecticut and being a Rangers fan and being a Richter fan, you could see a lot of the raw power and raw explosiveness in Quick that we saw in Richter. Quick has a butterfly base and he's the one who started the reverse-VH and brought it to prominence - it's something a lot of goalies have incorporated into their game. Quick, to me, I think is the best money goalie we have in the game right now when all the marbles are on the line. There's a very strong resemblance to Richter in that sense.
When the Kings played the Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, I remember seeing Quick and his family leaving Madison Square Garden after getting a shutout in Game 3, just how much of a special feeling that must have been for him. As a kid who grew up in Connecticut as a Rangers fan and a Richter fan, for that to come full circle, I thought was really cool.
Jonathan Quick is a modern version of Mike Richter, and it would be awesome to see them play each other.
Sean Burke vs. Mike Smith
Very different paths getting into the League. Sean Burke came into the League really young with the New Jersey Devils. Had an amazing career and made multiple All-Star Games. Had great success at different points, but I really think his game took off once he went to the Arizona Coyotes and he started working with Benoit Allaire. He had a huge impact on Burke and how he played the position, allowing him to believe that he didn't need to roam and be so aggressive in terms of his positioning, keeping him much more conservative in the net. Allaire helping him take his career to the next level and really having a big impact on how the position is played is similar to what Burke has done for Smith. Burke was the goaltending coach for the Coyotes, and there are a lot of similarities between them in terms of size and range and build and some of their on-ice skills also are very comparable. Burke did an amazing job working with Smith and helping him resurrect his career and establish himself, and ironically it's with someone who mirrors him. Burke was able to maximize Smith's talent the way that Allaire was able to do that for Burke, which is why I think it would be a treat to see them face off against each other.