Frank Brimsek’s star flashed on the NHL scene with an initial brilliance that few rookies have ever matched. Recalled from the Providence Reds by the Boston Bruins in December 1938 after having started the season there, he reeled off six shutouts in eight games and quickly gained the moniker “Mr. Zero.”
Boston general manager Art Ross gambled on his instincts that “Tiny” Thompson, his incumbent goaltender, had reached his peak. He dealt his future Hall of Famer to Detroit and went with another future Hall of Famer, the American from Eveleth. Ross’s instincts were right on as Brimsek led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 1939 while winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.
Brimsek was born September 26, 1915 in Eveleth and after high school play had a brief stop at St. Cloud Teacher’s College.
Once in Boston, he never looked back and helped the Bruins to another Stanley Cup in 1941. Over the course of his 10-year career, nine with Boston and one with Chicago, “Mr. Zero” was named to eight All-Star teams, two firsts and six seconds, while picking up a second Vezina Trophy in 1942. In addition he played in three All-Star games (1939, 1947, 1948). In the later years he finished second in the voting for the Hart Trophy as league MVP to the immortal “Rocket” Richard, who regarded him as the toughest goalie he ever faced.
Brimsek wanted to be closer to his Minnesota home and requested a trade after the 1948-49 season. The Bruins dealt him to the Chicago Blackhawks and he then played one more campaign before retiring. He returned home to the Iron Range and worked for the Duluth, Winnipeg, and Pacific Railroad as an engineer. Brimsek became only the third American, second Minnesotan, to be selected to the Hall of Fame in Toronto in 1966. That was followed by his obvious inclusion among the first 25 enshrines to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973. He died in Virginia, Minnesota on November 11, 1998.
1910s: Frank Winters
1920s: Frank "Moose" Goheen
1930s: Doc Romnes
1940s: Frank Brimsek
1950s: John Mayasich
1960s: Tommy Williams
1970s: Bill Nyrop
1980s: Neal Broten
1990s: Phil Housley
2000s: Jamie Langenbrunner