Sunday, March 22, 2009

The King of Kings

One of the things I really don't like are the "Best player ever" conversations that pop up around the table at the bar because quite frankly there's too much of a gap between the generations of players and how the game evolved between the generations. However with Martin Brodeur becoming the winningest goalie of all time and slowly but surely catching up to Terry Sawchuck's "unbeatable" shutout record I feel compelled to take a stab at who I believe is the greatest goalie of all time(although personally I prefer refering to players as the best of their generation and not the best of "all time). In my humble opinion the top 5 goalies to ever lace up the skates and put of the pads are: 1.Patrick Roy, 2.Martin Brodeur, 3.Terry Sawchuk, 4.Glenn Hall, 5.Ken Dryden

Ken Dryden: His career only lasted 10 seasons because he wanted to be a lawyer(and later a politician) so while he may not have a record amount of wins he won when it counted. 6 Stanley Cups in 10 years, and only 7 full seasons, including his rookie season in 1970. He only lost 57 games his entire career and was one of the backbones of the greatest dynasty team of all time. He won the Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy. The iconic image of him leaning on the butt of his goalstick will be replayed for years to come and he helped lead Canada to victory over the Russians in the 1972 Summit Series. These are the reasons why Ken Dryden was the 5th greatest goalie to ever play.

Glenn Hall: "Mr.Goalie" as he was known, is the owner of one of the most impressive streaks in proffesional sports, 502 straight games for a goaltender and this was back when there were no masks and the padding they wore back then would be considered street hockey equipment today. He won 2 Stanley Cups as a goaltender(with Detroit and Chicago respectively) and then 1 as a goalie coach with the Calgary Flames in 1989. Hall was very well known for throwing up before almost every game he ever played in. He finished his career with 407 wins, 84 shutouts and a 2.49 GAA. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy and the Vezina trophy 3 seperate times. Even with all these impressive stats the one I always come back to is the 502 straight games. That alone get's him on this list at #4.

Terry Sawchuk: The man who held the record for most wins for 30 years, Terry Sawchuk was a legend. His record for most shutouts(1o3 of them) still holds to this day, although Martin Brodeur will break this record by next season. He won the Stanley Cup and the Vezina Trophy 4 times and the Calder Trophy his rookie season. He finished his career with 447 wins and a 2.52 GAA and quite the reputation of a party animal. He bounced around from Detroit, to Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles and the New York Rangers and left an impression wherever he went. Their was no doubt as to who the best goalie of his generation was with Sawchuk and he's #3 on my list.

Martin Brodeur: The inspiration for this list, Martin Brodeur has cemented himself in the history of the game this year by becoming the winningest goalie of all time and he's closing in on the shutouts record as well. He has won the Vezina Trophy 4 times, the Calder Trophy, and has missed the playoffs only once. He currently has 552 wins and 101 shutouts and a career 2.20 GAA. The reason that I have Brodeur at #2 and not in the top spot is that he's always played on a stacked team and when he was winning cups he was playing behind probably the best 6 man defensive unit since the 1970's Montreal Canadiens. His style is quite different and has yet to be emmulated by younger goaltenders but that will undoubtedly change, but the goaltender that copies him better be as athletic because you have to be pretty damn agile to pull of some of the things Brodeur does, especially since his goaltending equipment is smaller then most goalies around the league.

Patrick Roy: St.Patrick, arguably the most hot tempered, egotistical goaltender to ever play to game of hockey. But the fact is he revolutionized the position and he was prone to taking teams on his back to Stanley Cup championships. When he retired he was the winningest goalie of all time(551 wins) along with 66 shutouts and a career 2.54 GAA and the only player to ever win the Conn Smythe trophy 3 times(twice in Montreal and once in Colorado). He won the Vezina Trophy 3 times and has had his Jersey retired by both teams that he played for. There are two things for me that set Roy just above Brodeur. The first is that Roy carried two average Montreal Canadiens teams(1986 and 1993) to Stanley Cup victory's and in their one head to head meeting in the Stanley Cup finals Roy topped Brodeur in 7 games. All he ever did was win Championships and that is why he goes down still as the greatest goalie to play the game.

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