No player spends more time on the ice than the man in net, and often he can be the difference between winning and losing. With that in mind, here are my five greatest goaltenders in NHL history:
5. Glen Hall
won 406 NHL games, taking Calder, Vezina, and Conn Smythe trophies along the way to go with two Stanley Cups as a player. (Photo: Getty Images)
He's one of the top 10 in wins, one of the most famous goaltenders ever to play and he was very unique. Everyone of course knows about him puking before games and that might make him seem nervous, but he did it as long and as well as anyone. When you think of goaltending, Glenn Hall
is one of the names that always pops up.
Hall had several major accomplishments, but what might stand out most of all is his 502 starts in a row. Coaches would never let that happen now. Coaches are worried about goaltenders being tired. Obviously they weren't playing 82-game seasons then, but Glen did play when it was 70 games, and not only that, but a lot of those times there was only one goaltender so he was the only goalie for practice, too. To do that and never be hurt, and do all that traveling, because they were flying commercial then -- they didn't fly charter jets -- or taking the train, that number is just mind-boggling. That a goalie could play that many games without a mask without getting hurt, it's just a crazy, crazy number. Coaches are very careful these days. They'll let him play two games in a row, but not three, or they'll monitor his minutes. It's just a crazy number -- one that we'll never see approached again in the NHL.
4. Jacques Plante
His numbers are right up there with the best. He's one of the most famous goaltenders ever, and he's one that changed the game by having the guts to wear a mask. In those days general managers thought that wearing a mask was a sign of weakness. They actually ordered goalies not to wear masks, and Jacques was powerful enough and strong enough mentally that he said, "To hell with you. I'm wearing a mask. I don't care what the GM thinks and I don't care what the coach thinks. I'm wearing a mask and it won't hurt the way I play." He knew he would play better with a mask on, that he'd be braver and more aggressive. Jacques Plante
changed the game of hockey for the better. He played well into his 40s and was on the Blues with Glenn Hall
later in his career, he won several Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, had 434 wins in 837 games, which is pretty impressive and he's just one of the great ones. No doubt about it.
3. Terry Sawchuk
He's in the top five in wins, and I put him No. 3 because of the shutouts. He had over 100 of them. A lot like Glen Hall's record, it's just a crazy record playing as many games as he did. He won Stanley Cups, had 447 wins and was a guy that fought a lot of demons. If he was a football or baseball player in the United States they'd have a movie about his life. But the thing that sets him apart is the number of shutouts he had in his career.
We don't look at history enough in our sport. Kids today don't know the history of our sport and who was great in the 40s and 50s -- with all sports. Baseball guys will say the same things -- that young guys don't know what Jackie Robinson went through or what Ty Cobb was like. In our sport, young hockey fans should know Terry Sawchuk
and know about his history.
2. Martin Brodeur
Goalie - NJD
GAA: 3.18 | SVP: 0.884
This is going to be the debate, but I'm going with Brodeur at No. 2. He has the most wins in the regular season, and he's great, still playing at 39 years old and still getting wins, but I don't think he's going to pass Patrick Roy
in playoff wins. Both have won Stanley Cups, but Marty's No. 2 because Patrick's playoff record is so unbelievable. Still Brodeur is a great goaltender and a great ambassador for the game. He's also a different kind of goaltender. He's very media-friendly, he's a great puck handler and a great passer -- like a third defenseman. Most goalies are told not play the puck, but I imagine most coaches told Marty to play it. He was like another set of eyes back there. He changed the game that way, but the numbers really speak for themselves. He has over 600 wins and is just unbelievable.
And not to take away from Marty, but the teams he played behind were so good defensively. We changed the game after the lockout because of the Devils. On some nights, Marty would see only 18 shots. Very rarely did he see 30 shots. A lot of those games, though, Marty had to make 2 or 3 saves at key times to win playoff games or Stanley Cup games. Sometimes it's easier to play goal when you're seeing 40 shots than when you're seeing 14.
1. Patrick Roy
I saw Patrick up close when he won the Cup in 1993 with Montreal and I was coaching Los Angeles. He's won the Conn Smythe three times with two different teams, he's won the Stanley Cup four times and he won with the best team and without the best team. He's got the most playoff wins and I'm a big believer that a big part of greatness is your playoff record. Marty has a great playoff record too, but we've seen Roy do so many things and be such a great competitor. If I have one game and my life is on the line, I want Patrick Roy
in net. I think he's the best big-game goaltender to ever play in our sport.