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Weekes: Four goalies I wish I played against

by Kevin Weekes

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 the goalies he wish he had an opportunity to play against.

I was fortunate that I got to play against a lot of my heroes and a lot of the guys I idolized growing up.

Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph and Roberto Luongo were a few of those players. I even had a chance to be teammates with Luongo and Brodeur.

I got to play in an era with some of the greats. However, there are many goalies I didn't get to face. Whether it was their style, their ability to come up clutch in the big game or their impact on the game, there are four goalies I wish I could have played against.

Three of the four who played in the NHL won the Stanley Cup. Three are Hall of Famers, including one who didn't play in the NHL.

Here are four goalies I would have loved to have faced:

Tony Esposito -- "Mr. Shutout" himself. He was so competitive and so far ahead of his time mastering the butterfly style. The butterfly then had a little bit of a wider stance. His feet weren't narrow together. He was an innovator in many ways. First guy to wear the cage. Even though it was a mask, it was a mask/cage combo, which kind of foreshadowed where it was going. Those things were really cool and just had a unique look to them. His style was not only revolutionary but evolutionary. It helped revolutionize this position.

Ken Dryden -- He was the first big man goalie (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) who played. When you look at guys that revolutionized goalies, Dryden was a guy who was so far ahead of his time. Look at how much of his body was above the crossbar. To have that size and net presence, and his stick just looked like a little baton. For him to kind of revolutionize the position and be as bright as he was and as articulate as he was and remains, he helped change the perception of the size of the goalie. From guys that were 5-9, 5-10 to guys that were barely around six feet, now you have Ben Bishop (6-7), Anders Lindback (6-6), Pekka Rinne (6-5), Robin Lehner (6-5), Carey Price (6-3), I think that Dryden was way ahead of his time in terms of his size.

Dryden proved to people that goalies were smart and they can actually put a sentence a thought together because everybody talks about how weird goalies are and how quirky we all are. He was able to articulate what we go through, what we all face in this position and the pressure and all of the expectations, and all the while change the way in which the position is perceived. And the six Stanley Cups, that was okay too.

Vladislav Tretiak -- Watching all those games in the Canada Cup and all of those international competitions he played in, it's really interesting to see how great he was. I always wonder what he would have been like had he played here, had he had the chance to play in the NHL. You look at how great he was internationally and how great he was in all the championships and international competition, Olympics, you name it. He was ahead of his time.

Tretiak had a big impact on Martin Brodeur, who went to some of his camps. He had a big impact on Eddie Belfour. People don't realize Tretiak was Chicago's goalie coach for a while and had a huge impact on Eddie Belfour, who switched to No. 20 in honor of Tretiak. In many ways, he opened the game for more European goalies, more athletic, dynamic goalies. I had the privilege of playing with Nikolai Khabibulin. You look at Evgeni Nabokov, who had a great career in his own right, I think that Khabibulin is one of the best goalies of his generation and I think he is the best Russian goalie ever to play not named Tretiak, and that says a lot. I think that Tretiak spawned the likes of a Semyon Varlamov or a Sergei Bobrovsky. Both guys ironically represented by the same agent and Bobrovsky is a Vezina Trophy winner as well. You have to look at the succession, and it all started with Tretiak.

Bill Ranford -- I loved Bill Ranford. I loved his style, loved his athleticism, loved how fast he was, how quick he was. A lot of times growing up, you kind of emulate those guys. You're playing street hockey and you make a big save and say, 'Oh what a save by Ranford!' It used to get me pumped up watching him play. The goalies of his era were so athletic and so dynamic. Bill Ranford was right up there. I remember when he got called up to Edmonton. I watched him star with them and Team Canada, and with the Bruins. He was a fun goalie to watch and he competed so hard. He was a maximum effort goalie. Of course in his second act, he's done an amazing job with the Los Angeles Kings as goalie coach.

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