Coming up with a list of the 20 best NHL goaltenders of all time was quite a challenge, and I made several revisions to the list before finally settling on what I’ve written here. The NHL has changed so dramatically over the past century that strictly using stats to define the greatest is a useless tool. Goaltenders in the 80s had extremely high G.A.A.s compared to those who played the bulk of their career in the dead puck era.
Way back in the day teams only carried one goaltender, who had to play through injury and sickness, without a capable backup on the bench waiting to take over if they faltered. Many also worked day jobs and showed up on game night prepared to battle despite a full day of back-breaking labor under their belt.
And of course we can’t forget the evolution of equipment as a factor in determining the greatest goalies to ever play the game of hockey. Today’s equipment is absolutely huge, and goalies look like Michelin men when compared to their brethren of the 80s and before. Go way back into the history books and none of the goalies even more masks. On the flip side the shooters weren’t as deadly as they are today. The increased size and strength of players, coupled with breakthroughs in hockey stick technology has given even so-called 4th line grinders power and accuracy that even the game’s biggest stars never enjoyed back in the day.
As impossible as it seems to compare yesteryear’s legends to the superstars of today it is an exercise that hockey fans enjoy undertaking on a regular basis. In the end it boils down to one man’s opinion, and I’m sure that opinion will be widely contested and even derided. That is the great thing about the sport of hockey. It elicits so much passion from those who follow it.
For those who will note Vladislav Tretiak’s absence on this list, remember this is a list of NHL goalies only. Had it been a world-wide list there is no question that Tretiak would be sitting at a high spot. With that said here are my picks for the top 20 best NHL hockey goalies of all time:
20 – Ron Hextall – I figured I’d create some controversy right off the bat with my number 20 selection. No, Ron Hextall didn’t win a Stanley Cup, and yes he was a bit of a snap-show at times – Remember him hacking down Kent Nilsson, or going bananas trying to get at Chris Chelios? However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he was a spectacular goalie who took the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers to within a whiskers-breadth of the 1987 Stanley Cup, before finally bowing out to the far more powerful Edmonton Oilers in game 7. His performance that year would earn him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, one of the very few times it has been awarded to a player on the losing team.
Hextall was not only an extraordinarily skilled puck stopper, he was also a revolutionary puck handler, and not only could he pass the puck as well as a defenseman, he was the first goalie in NHL history to score a goal by shooting it into an empty net. Then when his imitators began to accomplish the same feat, Hextall one-upped them by becoming the first goalie to do it in a playoff game.
19 – Gerry Cheevers – Known for his creative goal mask which features mock stitches of all the cuts he would have received had he not been wearing said mask, Gerry Cheevers was an integral part of the powerful Boston Bruins team that won two Stanley Cups in the 1970s. Though he lacked the Vezina Trophies on many others on this list – thanks in large part to playing at the same time as a guy by the name of Ken Dryden, and spending a stint in the WHA during his prime – Cheevers built himself a well deserved reputation as a money goaltender, who always delivered at clutch times. His streak of 33 games without a loss is an NHL record that still stands to this day.
18 – Frank Brimsek – When your nickname is Mister Zero you know you’ve earned yourself a spot on the list of the best NHL goalies of all time. Though some Mike Richter fans might argue, many consider this man the greatest American born goaltender of all time (Watch out Mr. Zero, Ryan Miller is throwing his hat in the ring for that title now too). Brimsek made an immediate impact with the Boston Bruins, earning 10 shutouts in his rookie year and earning the Calder Trophy as a result. Over his career he would earn 2 Vezina Trophies, lead the Bruins to 2 Stanley Cups and appear in 8 All Star Games.
17 – Grant Fuhr – Speaking of money goaltenders, there are few that were as good at key moments than this backbone of the powerful 80s era Edmonton Oilers. Fuhr’s numbers might pale in comparison to many others, and he only earned a single Vezina Trophy in his career, but let’s be honest, he didn’t exactly have a very defensive-minded team playing in front of him. Yet, in the third period whether the Oilers were up by a goal, or whether they were trailing by one and needed him to make a key save to keep the game in reach Fuhr would always deliver. Known for his spectacular glove saves Fuhr was a goalie who was just as entertaining to watch as his high-flying teammates. He would capture 5 Stanley Cups with the Oilers before going on to stints with Toronto, Buffalo, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Calgary.
16 – Walter “Turk” Broda – Another blast from the past on the list, Turk Broda spent his entire NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. During that span this Hockey Hall of Famer helped the Leafs capture 5 Stanley Cup championships, twice earning himself Vezina Trophy honors along the way. Amazingly he did all this despite taking a three year hiatus in the prime of his career to serve in the war. When he returned he showed no rust at all from the break, leading Toronto to the Stanley Cup in 3 of the next 4 years.
15 – Clint Benedict – Though Jacques Plante is routinely credited with being the pioneer that brought the goalie mask to hockey, it is actually this man who first donned the mask in a game, dating way back to early 1930. He starred with the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Maroons, winning 4 Stanley Cups along the way. He was one of the first bona fide goaltending stars in first the NHA and eventually the NHL, and his accomplishments were recognized when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame back in 1965.
14 – Billy Smith – Though much of the credit to the New York Islanders’ incredible dynasty of the early 80s goes to Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin, as any coach or player will tell you, it is all but impossible to win a Stanley Cup, let alone four in a row, without great goaltending. Battlin’ Billy Smith was known for his vicious stickwork well before Ron Hextall took over the mantel of league lumberjack. He would punish any opposing forward brave enough to stand at the lip of his crease, delivering nasty chops to exposed leg flesh whenever he could get away with it. Smith didn’t put up particularly impressive numbers in the regular season, but when playoff time hit he had that rare ability to take his game to another level, becoming all but unbeatable as he helped the Islanders win one playoff series after another for a span of almost 5 straight years. Smith also holds the distinction of being the first NHL goaltender to be officially credited with a goal. Colorado Rockies’ defenseman Rob Ramage actually put the puck into his own empty net with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, but since Smith was the last opposing player to touch the puck he got credit.
13 – Cecil “Tiny” Thompson – As Clint Benedict’s career was winding down Cecil Thompson was starting to carve his own name in the history books as a superstar NHL goaltender. In his very first game he pitched a shutout, serving immediate notice that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. That first season he was ridiculously stingy, putting up a miniscule 1.15 GAA. He played the bulk of his career with the Boston Bruins, winning 4 Vezina Trophies and helping the Bruins win a Stanley Cup.
12 – Johnny Bower – Not even Johnny Bower himself knows how old he is, but there can be little question that this legendary keeper tended the nets until a ripe old age. For most of his distinguished career he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he helped that team to 4 Stanley Cup championships – including 3 in a row between 1962-64 – during his tenure there. He earned two Vezina Trophies over his career, but even more than the Stanley Cups and the Vezinas Bower is arguably most famous as an innovator. He was the first goalie to popularize the poke check, using the daring maneuver to poke the puck off opposing forwards’ sticks when they got too close to the net. It was a supremely effective tactic that was rapidly emulated by his peers, and is still widely used by today’s NHL goaltenders.
11 – Tony Esposito – Though he spent much of his early life and his NHL career in the shadow of his larger than life superstar brother Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito managed to make his own legend as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tony O would help pioneer the butterfly style, and hybrid goaltending style that flew in the face of traditional stand-up goaltending. The style proved to be remarkably effective, and Esposito set an NHL record with 15 shutouts his rookie season in the NHL, a mark that still stands today. The performance earned Esposito the Calder Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and was even runner-up for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. He would continue his brilliant play, and though he never captured a Stanley Cup, he earned two more Vezinas over his career, giving him 3 in total, and was on the Team Canada team that beat the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series.
10 – Bill Durnan – I dust off the history books as I enter the top 10 best NHL goalies of all time. Bill Durnan doesn’t often get his due when great Canadiens like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, Doug Harvey and Jacques Plante are mentioned, and that is a crime, because this is one of the best to ever don an NHL sweater. Though his career was brief – he played only 7 seasons – Durnan made the most of that relatively short time. Over that span he captured the Vezina Trophy 6 times, set an NHL record (since broken by Brian Boucher) with 4 consecutive shutouts, and helped the mighty Canadiens win two Stanley Cups.
9 – Bernie Parent – Though his first six NHL seasons were nothing to write home about, from the 1973-74 season on Bernie Parent certainly made up for lost time. Over that span Parent was one of the most dominant goaltenders the game has ever seen, winning 197 games and losing only 60. The peak of this incredible stretch came between 1974 and 1975 where Parent helped the Flyers win Stanley Cups, earning personal accolades in the form of consecutive Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophies along the way.
8 – George Hainsworth – The Montreal Canadiens have had an embarrassment of riches at the goaltending position over the years, and this man was arguably the one who got the tradition of great Canadiens goaltenders started. Back in the 20s and early 30s Hainsworth was an absolute wall for the Habs. Though his statistical greatness goes unheralded in the modern NHL record book Hainsworth’s performance during that era cannot be ignored. In the 1928-29 season he posted a mind-boggling 22 shutouts in just 44 games, and his goals against average that season was a microscopic 0.92. He once went over 270 minutes without allowing a goal, in the playoffs! He would help the Canadiens to two Stanley Cups, and even served a stint as team captain – only the 2nd goalie to ever do so – before moving on to the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. His 1.93 career GAA is the second lowest in NHL history, and his 94 career shutouts put him third on the all time list behind only Martin Brodeur, and Terry Sawchuk.
7 – Glenn Hall – 502 consecutive starts in goal. That’s all that needs to be said. I’m going to say more, but really that insane stat alone is reason enough this goaltender earns such a high spot. It is, of course, an NHL record and perhaps no other mark in any sport is as completely untouchable as this one. As you all know Gordie Howe was known as Mr. Hockey. Well Glenn Hall was known as Mr. Goalie. Over his Hall of Fame career he wore the hockey jerseys of the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Blues and along the way he helped his clubs earn a pair of Stanley Cups, nabbing himself a pair of shiny Vezina Trophies to boot.
6 – Ken Dryden – Sorry, Leafs fans, but get used to seeing a lot of Montreal Canadiens goaltenders in the top 10. Dryden followed up the work of legends like Hainsworth, Durnan and Plante with his own Hall of Fame career in the sweater of the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. Like Durnan before him, Dryden didn’t stick around the NHL for very long, but his brief time there was even more dominant than Bernie Parent’s performance in Philadelphia was. In the 397 regular season games Dryden played he only lost 57 times! That is not a typo. In that same span he backstopped the Habs to 6 Stanley Cups, earned 5 Vezina Trophies, and paired with Tony Esposito to help Team Canada beat the Soviets in 1972. Despite the great power of the legendary Habs team of the 70s, it isn’t a coincidence that their dynasty toppled after Dryden called it a career following the completion of the 1978-79 NHL season.
5 – Jacques Plante – As great as the 1970s Canadiens were, there are many hockey historians that contend that the team that won 5 consecutive Stanley Cups in the latter half of the 1950s is the greatest Habs team ever assembled. While legends like Maurice Richard and his brother Henri, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey and Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion were getting the job done in front of him, Jacques Plante tended the nets. Over his remarkable career Plante would go on to capture the Vezina trophy an NHL record 7 times, and even won a Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. Of course his biggest claim to fame is popularizing the goalie mask. Plante defied his coach, the legendary Toe Blake, after taking a shot that broke his nose. He finally won the argument and donned a mask for protection. It wasn’t long before his contemporaries copied Plante, changing the game forever.
4 – Martin Brodeur – Some might be shocked to find this guy only at number four on the list, and to be honest I agonized over it a long time, but ultimately I could not justify putting him any higher up. Brodeur is as consistent as any goalie who has ever played the sport, and his ability to deliver while simultaneously handling a heavy workload have made him the NHL’s all time leader in both regular season wins and shutouts. With at least a few more years ahead of him Brodeur’s totals are going to go a lot higher and when the dust settles on his career his marks may well be untouchable. Over the years he has helped the New Jersey Devils win 3 Stanley Cups, Team Canada earn 2 Olympic Gold Medals, and has 4 Vezina Trophies on his mantle.
3 – Dominik Hasek – Though I’m sure many readers will be shocked to see him ahead of Brodeur, Plante and Dryden and be scratching their heads wondering how I’ve ranked him so high, I’m actually worried I may have ranked him too low. With all due respect to every other legend on this list I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goalie as completely unbeatable as Hasek was when he was at the top of his game. His unorthodox style, his incredible quickness, and his ridiculous athleticism and flexibility completely confounded shooters. Though he would go on to win 2 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, Hasek’s peak came while a member of the Buffalo Sabres. During his stint there he won 6 Vezina Trophies, an even more impressive 2 Hart Trophies, and helped a mediocre team that probably wouldn’t have even made the playoffs if not for him make it to game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Had Hasek played on a team of the caliber that Dryden, Plante, Fuhr or Smith had in front of them he would have won several more Stanley Cups. If his NHL career doesn’t quite convince you try and find some old footage of the 1998 Olympics, where Hasek “dominated” the powerful Canadian and Russian teams to help his Czech Republic team to the Olympic Gold Medal that year.
2 – Terry Sawchuk – Before Brodeur, Hasek and Roy came along the title of greatest NHL goalie of all time was really a two horse race between Jacques Plante and this guy. He was enigmatic and outright anti-social and he refused to listen to the advice of coaches, playing the game his way. His positioning was inferior to many of his contemporaries but Sawchuk more than made up for that with his lightning fast reflexes. His hands and feet were a blur as he batted puck after puck away from his goal. Much like Tim Thomas today he was widely recognized as one of the hardest battlers in the game, and would never give up on a play until the puck crossed the goal line. Over his remarkable career he captured 3 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, and helped the Toronto Maple Leafs capture their 13th (and last) Stanley Cup in 1967. He was also awarded 4 Vezina Trophies, and most famously held the mark for most career shutouts with 103, until he was recently passed by Martin Brodeur.
1 – Patrick Roy – Speaking of enigmatic figures who do things their own way, Patrick Roy certainly falls under that definition. Whatever issues you might have with his personality quirks though you cannot deny his incredible performance on the ice. Perhaps no other goalie before or since has wanted to win as desperately as Patrick Roy did. He was a big game goaltender who saved his best work for the playoffs, and 4 times over his career he led his teams to Stanley Cups. However, it is the two Stanley Cups he won with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and 1993 that really cemented his spot on this list of the best goalies of all time. In neither of those years should the Habs have come anywhere close to hoisting the Stanley Cup. Not to take anything away from the other players on those teams, but Patrick Roy was the single reason they won the Stanley Cup those years. He was absolutely brilliantly, particularly in overtime, coolly beating one opposing goalie after another in a game of nerves. Three of the four times he hoisted the Stanley Cup he also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Yes, Martin Brodeur has eclipsed his record of 551 regular season wins, but Roy was a playoff performer, and Marty ain’t gonna touch Roy’s 151 playoff victories. That one might be safe for all time, and is a big reason why Roy sits atop my list of the greatest goalies ever.
Havin Brodeur #4 in my mind is just ridiculous. In your “Top 50 NHL Players All time” you put Gretzky #1, due to statistics. Correct? Well Brodeur is like the Gretzky of goalkeepers. Most Wins, most shutouts, most consecutive 30win seasons, most consecutive 40win seasons. Most wins in 1 season. Most consistent goalie off all time based upon stats. Now many credit the NJ Devils defense for his success. But Brodeur had his best season statistic wise in 06-07. Thats with no Scott S, Scott N, Ken D, Alexander M, Joe N, etc. Brodeur also took 2002 Canada to gold after Joseph struggled. Something Roy never accomplished. Skill Roy #1, Brodeur #2, statistic wise Brodeur #1 Roy #2. Roy vs Brodeur is like Orr vs Gretzky. And not having Curtis Joseph or Eddie Belfour hurts your credibility in this list.
Haha you must be kidding me look there is tons of diffrent ways to view this I think Terry Sawchuk was the greatest goalie of all time the kid had a terrible childhood getting a broken elbow and hinding it so he parents didn’t yell at him screwed his life battled depression The gear back then was not near as good as modern day equipement mix it all up I think this makes the true greatest goalie of all time.
You are so right. The winningest goaltender of all time 4th on the list. Ridiculous! Not just Belfour and Joseph missing but, Osgood, Vernon, John, Vanbiesbrouck, Moog, Barrasso, Vachon, Luongo. This list was written by someone riding a short bus.
@Cynthia – I ride regular length buses, thank you very much.
Just because Brodeur has the most wins, doesn’t necessarily make him the best. Mike Gartner has the 6th most goals of all time. Does that make him the 6th best player ever?
You’ve listed lots of good candidates that didn’t make the list. Tell me, which ten goalies would you remove from my list to make room for them?
I dont think it’s fair to compare the modern day goalie to the old timers I think there should be two list or top 20 but separated by year, because Kipper should be there too plays almost 73 games per season on a so so team and always having a winning record with his wins and losses…that the only problem I see and Btw if Lemieux didnt get cancer or got sick and injured he would have finished before Gretzsky!
Ok, here’s why Brodeur should be #1. he is ranked #1 all-time in regular season wins, regular season shutouts, playoff shutouts, 30-win seasons, and 40-win seasons, and is #2 in playoff wins. The only category where he suffers is in save percentage. And a big reason for that was the dominant defense playing in front of him. How often did that stifling defense allow less than 20 shots per game? Sure, if you stop 18 out of 20 shots of course your save percentage is going to be lower than someone who stops 28 out of 30. Let’s throw in 3 Stanley Cups for good measure. And if that’s not enough, here’s another reason: how many players can say they literally changed how the game is played? The trapezoid area behind the net was implemented because of how good Brodeur is with the puck. So he spends his career becoming a great puck handler is the NHL “punishes” him for it. Maybe that’s a bit harsh but you get my point.
I’d argue that another Marty (Turco) had a bigger impact on the introduction of the trapezoid. Not only was he a great puck handler, but he was well known for going into the corner after the puck and throwing bodychecks on opposing forwards.
REALLY??? Osgood? Moog? Vernon? Barasso? these guys were good goalies, but none of them GREAT! and DANG SURE not top 20 all time?! they barely made any all star teams let alone hall of fame!
In 2008-2009, Martin Brodeur missed half a season for the Devils and Scott Clemmenson filled in for 40 games. Clemmenson’s stats were actually better than Brodeur’s. That is very telling, since it confirmed what I always suspected — that Martin Brodeur was a very good goalie on a very good team. As for his records, if you play 70 games a year for a top-tier club, remain uninjured, and retain most of your skills past age 35, getting the most wins is almost assured. Credit to Brodeur for being able to hang in all those years, but he’s not “the Gretzky of goaltenders.”
Try as I might, I can fathom how he could be ranked so high. He wasn’t an innovator, like Sawchuk with the crouch, Plante with puck handling (Brodeur was a great puck handler, but he didn’t invent it like Plante or Rayner, or develop it like Hextall), Glenn Hall with the butterfly, or Hasek with … well, being Hasek (doing the snowman, flipping upside down, dropping the stick — basically doing whatever it took to keep the puck out.)
Sawchuk vs. Brodeur records. Why not take their first ten seasons for a better comparison? Brodeur recorded 75 shutouts and Sawchuk had 82 (in about 40 fewer games to boot.) Each had 3 Stanley Cups in that time. But Sawchuk had a LOT more mileage on him than Brodeur, probably due to more pressure (in the 6-team NHL, you were either in the lineup or in the minors) and injuries (I doubt that Brodeur was hit in the face very often for one thing, and Sawchuk didn’t have cryogenic treatments, ART, or anti-inflamms available to him for another.) And Terry was able to will his bruised and battered body to pull out one last Stanley cup at the age of 37, whereas Marty at that same age was put on the bench because of his mediocre play at the Olympics.
The problem with rankings is that we will never know what accolades would have been won by people like Roger Crozier, Gilles Meloche or Ed Giacomin if they had played on truly great teams.
This list can also be ranks as a “What If” list. If Ron Hextall could have kept his head in the playoffs, If Bernie Parent didn’t get injured, If Eddie Giacomin had a better defense in front of him. And lets not forget the biggest “What If” of all: If Vadislav Tretiak could have played in the NHL..
@ Kyle – Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I knew I’d stir up some controversy putting Brodeur at #4. Yes, he’s been incredibly durable (until recently) and very consistent, and because of that has piled up statistical totals that may never be equalled. However, I’ve been watching Brodeur his entire career and I can’t recall very many occasions where he out and out “stole” games for the Devils.
Hasek, on the other hand, committed grand larceny on a regular basis for the Buffalo Sabres and his ’98 Nagano Olympics performance easily trumps what Brodeur did for Canada in 2002. Roy all but single-handedly delivered Stanley Cups for the Habs in ’86 and ’93, and his record 3 Conn Smythe Trophies only reinforces just how good this guy was come playoff time. If I was coaching game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals I’d take Hasek or Roy in their prime over Brodeur in his prime in a heartbeat. Just my opinion, of course.
As for leaving Belfour and Joseph off the list – trust me, it pained me to do so. They were right on the cusp of making it. I just couldn’t justify squeezing anyone off the list to make room for them.
My point is though putting Gretzky #1 because he had most points, shouldn’t Brodeur be #1? The legacy that Brodeur has left with 1 franchise is amazing (until this yr due to injury, bad coachin and Kovalchuk controversy.) I lost respect for Roy back in 2002 vs Detroit where he got to cocky and lift up his glove to show off a remarkable save. Meanwhile Detroit poked it in and ultimately cost Colorado the series (lost game 7 8-2) Lets face it you watch many of Roys glove saves he put emphasis on them. The dramatic catch and bring it to his shoulder. Hasek I lost respect for in 05-06 when I wanted the Sens to win the cup. He couldnt shake off a little injury? Brodeur could due 1 thing these 2 other guys couldn’t… Play the puck. Many stated having Brodeur back there was like having a 3rd defenceman. He would break up many teams ‘dump n chase strategy’ including Anaheim in 2003. Where Brodeur had 3shutouts in finals. *NHL record. I mean Roy was a better playoff goalie, Hasek had better sv%. But I’m talking about a guy that owns most NHL goalie records. If your gonna state you would take Roy or Hasek over Brodeur in their prime, then you should re edit your top 50 players. Cause I would take Orr or Lemieux in their prime over Gretzky. I mean rankings should be put based upon skill, stats and so on. As Gigeure said that Brodeur is just an superior athlete than most Goalies. TSN stated they would take Roy over Brodeur 3-1, but doesnt that appoint Brodeur #2? Because Hasek wasnt in the same argument as those 2… Sawchuk is a great goalie and yes equipment today is enourmous, but skaters also have lighter, more advanced equipment too. The average skater today has more skill than of Sawchuk’s day.
Kyle, “I lost respect for Roy back in 2002 vs Detroit where he got to cocky and lift up his glove to show off a remarkable save.” You must have never been a goalie. If you lost respect for Roy over flashing a glove, what about all of the dirty ass players in sports like Todd bertuzzi or half of the football players to ever play in the NFL? I’ve seen way worse showboating than that as well as worse sportsmanship in general. I’m glad I dont base my decisions off of one small action that somebody made. I would also like to add that Patrick Roy did that all the time. Just about any time he caught the puck in his glove there would be an extra swoop in his movements after he caught it. Obviously his jerk reaction when he tenses his glovehand to grab the puck when it hit. Have you ever caught an 85+ mph puck? Just think about how that feels when a frozen chunk of rubber blasts your knuckles through your glove and then tell me you feel no emotion toward the game you’ve devoted your life to.
Carey price is the best!!!!!!!!!! I? Carey price
Sorry it waa 7-0 in 2002. Gm 7. *
Hi Kyle. You make a valid argument for Brodeur. It is just a matter of personal opinion at this point. In fact, I think the top 6 on my list: Dryden, Plante, Brodeur, Hasek, Sawchuk, Roy are so close that I could have put them in virtually any order.
As for the Gretzky argument. He is not at #1 on my Greatest Hockey Players of All Time list simply because of his stats. He had a will to win that I didn’t see in another hockey player until Sidney Crosby came along. He made everyone who played with him not just better, but leaps and bounds better. Look at Dave Lumley’s stats in 1981-82 – the year he played on Gretzky’s wing. 32 goals and 74 points in 66 games. Well over a point a game. Dave Lumley!
If you still want to use the stats argument then consider that Wayne Gretzky’s stats compared to that of his peers are miles beyond Brodeur’s compared to his peers, not just in the regular season but also in the playoffs. Only Messier is in the same stratosphere as Gretzky when it comes to playoff points. Last I checked Brodeur trailed Roy by more than 50 playoff wins. That’s one record Marty ain’t getting.
As for the Brodeur/Hasek debate – put Hasek on the New Jersey Devils from 1994-2003 and I bet the Devils win more than 3 cups. Hasek won 6 Vezina Trophies and 2 Hart Trophies during that same span. Without him the Sabres wouldn’t have been in the playoffs, let alone reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999. I seriously doubt Brodeur could have gotten them that far. Put Brodeur in Hasek’s place in the ’98 Olympics and the Czechs don’t even medal, let alone stun both Canada and Russia to win the gold. Yes, Hasek might have been a head case, but that doesn’t discount what he did on the ice.
Sawchuk/Brodeur is a tougher comparison as the two played in completely different eras. However, the records he set stood for an amazing 4 decades. I personally think Brodeur’s marks have a good chance to last even longer (and stated so in my article), but until they have I will give the nod to Sawchuk.
alright i supported what you were saying host untill that comment about sydney crosby’s will to win being like gretsky’s ,comparing the 2 on many other level’s makes sense but gretsky’s passion rarely cost his team where as crosby has lost many games because he is a spaz,he is over rated and high on himself and has no passion for the game really,just personal motivation to be the best ,which is awsome dont get me wrong but you can get awful full of yourself on that road , and gretsky just wasnt ,he had class ,if anybody has that passion you speak of it is steve stamkos .. wait and see what he does ,you’ll see
In over 16 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Brodeur owns several notable NHL records as listed below. Most of these records Brodeur has broken were held by goalies who have played at least a full 20 year career. Most regular season wins: 604 Most shutouts: 112 Most shutouts, regular season & playoffs combined: 135 Most overtime wins: 45 Most consecutive 30-win seasons: 12 Most consecutive 35-win seasons: 11 Most 40-win seasons: 8 Youngest goalie to reach 300, 400, and 500 career wins Only goalie to reach 600 career wins Most games played by an NHL goaltender: 1076 Most total minutes played by an NHL goaltender 63,521 Only NHL goalie to score a game-winning goal One of two NHL goalies (Ron Hextall) to score a goal in both the regular season and the playoffs Regular seasonMost wins in a single season (48, in 2006–07) Most minutes played in a single season (4697, in 2006–07) PlayoffsThese statistics are accurate as of the end of the 2010 NHL Playoffs.Most shutouts in a playoff (8, in 2002–03) Most shutouts in a Stanley Cup final (3, in 2002–03; tied with Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frank McCool) 2nd place: 99 Wins 3rd goaltender to win the Stanley Cup with a Game-7 shutout in 2002–03. 1st goaltender in history to have 3 shutouts in two different playoff series. (1995 against Boston in the Conference Quarterfinals, 2003 against Anaheim in the Stanley Cup final.) Brodeur has also acquired more than 30 franchise records, including most all-time, regular season and playoff wins, shutouts, games lowest goals-against-average, and is second in games played as a Devil to Ken Daneyko’s 1283 games. The only major awards he has yet to win are the Hart Trophy given to the regular season’s most valuable player, and the Conn Smythe Trophy, granted annually to the most outstanding player in the postseason. Hasek had a far less work load. You put him on that NJ Devils team and give him the work load of Brodeur. I can guarantee that Hasek couldn’t have, because he didn’t. Brodeur 11 seasons 70+ GP. Hasek 1. Brodeur 64,000+mins played, Hasek 42,800mins. Brodeur was a work horse. Its like Orr, Savard said there was stars, superstars and then there was Bobby Orr. Gretzky had protection, Hasek played far less. A V8 engine puts out better HP and Torque numbers with less mileage too.
The main stat that you keep missing Kyle is that Brodeur NEVER won the Conn Smythe, actually in 2003 the LOSING team goalie won it over Brodeur (Giguere). And head to head in game 7 of the 2001 playoffs Roy BEAT Brodeur and won the Conn Smythe AGAIN, even though NJ was stacked (they were the highest scoring team that year, not Colorado, and NJ had the best defense as well.)
Hasek wasn’t a workhorse? I’d say a better indication of a goalie’s workload is the number of shots he faces, not the number of games he plays in. Between 1993-94 and 2000-01 with the Sabres Hasek faced 13,650 shots. Brodeur only faced 12,589 in that same span with the Devils. Over a thousand more shots against, despite playing in 52 fewer games than Brodeur.
Not only that, but I absolutely guarantee that the average quality of shots Hasek faced was far higher than Brodeur faced with Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko in front of him and the entire team playing a Jacques Lemaire defense-first trapping style of hockey. Brodeur had a lot of easy nights, and that was a big reason why he was able to play so many games. An easy night for Hasek was any night the Sabres managed to hold their opposition under 35 shots. Despite all that Hasek had a significantly higher save percentage (.928) than Brodeur (.912) during that time.
The cut and paste list of Brodeur’s records from Wikipedia was impressive, but one particular line stood out for me:
[Quote] The only major awards he has yet to win are the Hart Trophy given to the regular season’s most valuable player, and the Conn Smythe Trophy, granted annually to the most outstanding player in the postseason. [/Quote]
Hasek won the Hart twice. Only 6 goalies in NHL history have won that award. He is the only one to do so on two occasions.
You say that Hasek was good at the top of his game but if you look at guys like Brodeur, Dryden and Plante they were good for a long period of time.
Yeah I copied that from wikipedia for a reason. So let me guess, as a coach you determine how many games a G plays based upon shots faced? And Hart trophy? Really??? Jose Theodore won a hart he better than Brodeur too? Brodeur has played more MINUTES 20,000 more MINUTES over his unfinished career vs Hasek’s finished career! Hasek, really? They same guy who lifted the net out of position in the last min to prevent the other team from tying/winning? Same guy that would fake a injury from a bump. TSN, The Score, Sportsney Connected, ESPN debate Brodeur vs Roy best of all time. As for shots you should go rewatch Brodeur’s play in 1995 vs Detroit and 2000 vs Dallas. Like I SAID BEFORE BRODEURS BEST SEASON WAS AFTER STEVENS, SCOTT N, KEN D LEFT. He faced most shots that year too. .922sv% 48Wins 10So. Sorry man like I stated your the same guy to put a G like Ron Hextall before Ed Belfour on a top 20 G list.
First of all, show me where TSN, ESPN, The Score etc. debate Roy vs. Brodeur as the greatest of all time. I’ve seen features on all these sports stations debating who is better between Roy vs. Brodeur, and it is mentioned that they are among the greatest goalies of all time, but not that they are the two best. You might want to get your facts straight before you start “quoting” sources.
So Brodeur’s best year was 06-07 when he had a .922 save percentage without Stevens, Nieds and Daneyko in front of him?
I guess that’s better than Hasek’s 97-98 season when he had 13 shutouts, a .932 save percentage, won the Hart and the Vezina and took a little break in between to win a gold medal. If I recall correctly he didn’t have Stevens, Niedermayer and Daneyko in front of him either. Nor did he in any of the other years when he was putting up superior stats to Brodeur, and winning Vezina and Hart Trophies despite playing on a far inferior team.
And claiming that the fact that he dove, or knocked the net off deliberately has any bearing on how talented a goaltender he was is completely ridiculous. You are really grasping at straws with that particular argument.
And what difference does it make how many games/minutes Brodeur has played? Does that make Chelios better than Orr? The totals would have been a lot closer if Hasek had been free to play in the NHL, rather than forced to stay in the formerly Communist Czechoslovakia for the early years of his career. He wasn’t even a starting goalie in the NHL until his late 20s.
Need more education on the subject? Read this post on Greatest Hockey Legends:
Brodeur vs. Roy vs. Hasek
Sauce – Might want to check your stats again. Hasek played in 16 NHL seasons, and was “good for a long time”.
Dryden only played 8 seasons
Plante played 18 seasons, only two more than Hasek
Brodeur’s in his 18th season. Again, two more than Hasek.
16 seasons despite the fact that Hasek’s NHL career didn’t start until much later than Brodeur’s, Plante’s and Dryden’s because he wasn’t able to leave Czechoslovakia.
Over his final two NHL seasons (age 42 & 43!) he had a 65-21-9 record, a .909 save percentage, 13 shutouts and a 2.09 GAA. Still think he wasn’t good for a long time?
I see you struggled to put Hasek higher and I do think you should have put him #1. Way better than Brodeur who could never win a Vezina long as Hasek was still healthy and dominating. 6 Vezinas is impressive
Hasek’s Harts are the unreal part. 2 Harts as a goalie. Never will be repeated. And Hasek followed those 2 Harts with his best season (look it up). He was denied a third Hart (I think) because the NHL thought it was getting ridiculous. Hasek proved the NHL wrong by carrying the Sabres to the Finals.
And Gretzky wins on stats because he has the career by a huge margin AND season stats. Broduer has the career stats.
#1 Roy #2 Brodeur #3 Hasek #4 Sawchuck #5 Plante #6-#8 the same
#9 Broda #10 Benedict #11 Esposito #12 Georges Vezina #13 Fuhr #14 Durnan
and at 15, tho most people wont agree with me, Roberto Luongo, for his Amazing stats with Florida, and his great clutch play with Vancouver.
#16 Brimsek #17 Belfour #18 Richter #19 Vanbiesbrook #20 Kirk Mclean,
because he did on a higher scale for an even more terrible vancouver team than hasek did for buffalo.
i dony know how the hell u have some of these goalies here but u ignore some of the amazing ones. heres four of them. roberto luongo, ryan miller, eddie belfour and curtis joseph! how did u miss them???
I do acknowledge that leaving Ed Belfour off the list was an oversight on my part. He definitely deserves a spot. One of these days I’ll write a new list (I don’t like altering existing lists because if I do many of the comments attached to them will suddenly make no sense).
As for the other goalies you’ve mentioned, Luongo and Miller will likely get there by the time their respective careers are over. Right now they are still building their resumes.
Luongo has put up great regular season stats so far, but has been underwhelming in the playoffs. If he can finally get it done come post-season it will certainly help him move up. A Vezina or two wouldn’t hurt his cause either.
Miller has a Vezina, but is only halfway through his career so far (384 games played to date). Unless he experiences a sharp drop-off in the latter half of his career he should certainly crack the top 20 in years to come, particularly if he can add more Vezinas and/or Stanley Cup/Conn Smythe awards to his trophy case.
CuJo could certainly challenge Hextall or Cheevers for the 19-20 slots. He was a great goalie for a long time in the NHL, and his career stats certainly give ammo to the argument that he belongs on the list.
Cheevers won two Stanley Cups and holds the NHL record undefeated streak by a goalie at 33 games, and would likely have earned more accolades if he hadn’t spent 4 seasons in the WHA during his prime.
Hextall won both a Conn Smythe and a Vezina, and revolutionized the game with his puck-handling ability. Those achievements – ones that Joseph doesn’t have on his resume – are the reason I had Cheevers and Hextall ranked ahead of him.
ROY #1 seriously the man cheated . Oversized pads and jersey. Enough said there plus his last professional game en route too a 6 goals on 10 shot clunker hw allowed a grinder too score a hat trick, not to mention it was a game 7
When you have a defense corpse consisting of J.J Daigneault, Patrice Brisebois, and Donald Dufresne and you win a Cup you are the best of all time. And don’t mention Mathieu Schneider and Desjardins as they were 22 years old a piece and made lots of mistakes. 3 Conn Smythes and 151 playoff wins. Beat Brodeur head to head and Forsberg didn’t play that series either. Patrick Roy IS THE GREATEST GOALIE OF ALL TIME!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO
Okay as a Habs fan I can respect the fact that Roy is so high on the list. I do not believe he is the greatest goalie of all time however, I would give that honour to Terry Sawchuck. Roy didnt cheat Daryl, there was no rule against his pads and an big jersey doesnt help you save any more shots. Now Sawchuck came before the butterfly was developed and still set records almost identical to those of Martin Brodeur. Sawchuck was around in the time that he was able to make as many saves as some of the great ones now but not in the butterfly.(Much easier to stop low shots in the butterfly.
Now Luongo does need to do something in the playoffs to be even considered for this list and after how this series is going I am not even considering him. As for Miller, if he continues as he does than he will break this list. Like Luongo though, he has to win a cup. All the others on here have and they need to too.
You definatly forgot Vezina on this list. The trophy is named after him. While his stats are not as impressive as most of the others but he was the best goalie of his time. The pads sucked, the sticks sucked and the skates sucked but he found a way to win. He played in 327 consecutive regular season games for a reason. Back then, 4/5 GAA wasnt uncommon. While that will earn me scrutiny I believe it was the right thing to do.
I would love to add Lorne Chabot to the mix…not just because he is my grampa but because he also has the stats to back it up!
Great read..man I enjoy when people take the time to write about us goalies…amazing article…hope you do more!
Kyle is in love in Brodeur. Brodeur isn’t the best. Hasek is more skilled then Brodeur. Brodeur had better statistics and arguably a more solid career compared Hasek as simple is that.
Hasek is indeed too low. Everything you said is correct and more. He was absolutely unbeatable at his best, and his athleticism was unparalleled. Roy was also spectacular, and I feel it could be argued either way, but overall, I think Hasek has the edge due to the visual component and uniqueness of his play style. Roy and Brodeur both have impeccable numbers, but in my mind it takes more than just numbers and a cookie cutter butterfly style.
I’m not going to argue the top spots, but Chris Osgood is 10th all time in wins, and a two time Stanley Cup (starting) winner. He took over for Hasek a few years back and carried the Wings to the Cup. If Cujo is on the cusp, then Osgood has to be mentioned as well. Borderline top 20, easily top 30.
I find these lists a load of crap. If you compare styles of play and era’s of play Guy Lafleur would be the best player of all time as far as I am concerned.
Here is a guy who played during the toughest times in NHL history with the Broad Street Bullies and the Big Bad Bruins intimidating more players than at any other time in league history. Their rough style of play revolutionized the game to where it has become a health risk today.
No one protected his ass like Dave Samenko did for Wayne Gretzky or like Clark Gillies did for Mike Bossy. Lafleur played with two small guys Steve Shut and Jacques Lamaire at a time where you took your very life in your hands. Yet he was an unstoppable force.
My grandmother could have scored 50 goals had she had Dave Samenko protecting her. Give me a break with this bullshit.
Have seen the modifications to goalie equip. since Terry Sawchuch.(103 shut-outs)
Todays equipment **leg pads much, much wider,with deflecters
**Blocker & glove larger with deflecters
** all equip. larger & lighter
Have you compared the older goalies equip. to todays!!!!!!!!!!!!
Terry Sawchuck looks like he has bean poles for legs…..
I’ve seen a lot of top goalie rankings that put Roy at #1. This one has Plante at 1 and Roy at #4. I guess it favors the old school goalies, what do you think?
I have to say this is a very good list, however, you are never going to be able to suit everyone’s needs. The top 5 must be a tricky area because everybody has their favourite goalie of all time (mine personally is Patrick Roy). I agree that Belfour and Cujo are needed, but another favourite that you forgot is Felix Potvin (the cat), just one of my favourites. But all in all, a good list.
Great debate! Its hard to compare goalies from different era,but come on..Brodeur? Sure great golie,consistent. Roy..great golie,bit too cocky.But Hasek? 6 vezina 2 Hart on under average Sabres during 90`s..in his prime..that lasted many years..btw Hasek started to play on pro level in 1983(18year old) and still going(46 now)!best golie ever hands down. If there was a coaches debate..i bet every single one would choose Hasek over Roy or Brodeur inc. Scotty..whoever says otherwise its plain silly!
yeah and what about lunquvist?
again, not an easy list to compile. myself: sawchuk ahead of roy, or maybe tied? but i can’t live with sawchuk at number 2 (but i could live with roy at number 2). i’d like to see grant fuhr a little higher, but not sure who gets moved down. i think plante is too high – not sure he was ever GREAT, ya know what i mean? also, just for the heck of it, i’d rename the list ‘Best Goalies of All Time’ (omit ‘NHL’), and maybe find room near the top for a fella name tretiak. he wasn’t half bad…
When did Glenn Hall play for the Bruins? Thanks, Puck.
Puck – He didn’t 🙂 I’m scratching my head over this one. Not sure why I had the Bruins on the brain when I was doing Hall’s write-up. Maybe because Sawchuk was traded there after Hall established himself in Detroit. Thanks for spotting the error.
LOL Roy number 1. He can take his big padding and drop down this list. Hextall shouldnt even be on it
Since the NHL went to four rounds of seven, two teams – Hextall and the 1987 Flyers and the 2004 Calgary Flames – played 26 games in one playoff year. Both lost because they ran out of gas. Remember how Calgary folded in game seven?
Only one team has played 25 games and won the cup, the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. Much of that can be attributed to the cancellation of the 2004-2005 season plus the new salary cap rules and player movement.
All teams that have played 24 games or more have lost with two exceptions:
– Carolina in 2006
– Teams that played equal or fewer games than their opponents.
Either you win quickly or you don’t win at all.
And as for which goaltender is or isn’t there, a stronger case could be made for Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour or Andy Moog than Hextall. Joseph and Hextall were consistent for longer periods of time and have 160+ more wins, and Moog was only guilty of being second banana, on the wrong team at the wrong time. It wasn’t a failure to perform on his part.
Belfour has a cup and three appearances in the finals, more than Hextall. Joseph was the first of the modern “iron man” goaltenders, playing upwards of 60 games per year for 5+ seasons (later surpassed by Brodeur and Hasek), plus the most wins of any goalie not to win a cup. And Moog would have performed just as well as Fuhr if given a chance, a fact proven by his results with Boston, Dallas and Montreal. Many of Moog’s stats (W/L ratio, GAA, Save %, etc.) exceed Fuhr’s both when with Edmonton and elsewhere.
Crap. That should read:
Joseph and Belfour were consistent for longer periods of time and have 160+ more wins [than Hextall]
Hasek should be No. 1
The top 5 to me looks perfect, Patrick Roy played with such a less defensive cast of players for much of his career. My only beef is where is CUJO (Curtis Joseph), he should be in Hextall’s place. But overall good job putting this together
I agree with most of the list. I would have loved to see Dryden play another 10 years and I am positive that he would be number 1. His numbers if you put them up against each of the goalies on the list for their first 7 years in the league would be staggering and uncompareable. And to say he was not a workhorse when he played in 80% of the games. Every great player has played on a great team even gretzky that is what makes them so great. The differnece between number 20 and 80 on most lists is the guys you played with.
True, but what would have happened if Dryden played for the Leafs? He was a great “good team” goalie – he was able to remain composed for a 3 or 4 shot barrage, get no shots for five minutes and start getting cold, then be ready for another hard shot. What if he had to face 35 or 40 shots per game though?
What about Moog!
Where’s Mike Richter? Ron Hextall makes the list but not Richter? Head to head, with both in their prime, one game with your life depending on the result…I’ll take Richter over Brodeur. Yes, Brodeur was the better goalie over his long career, but when they were both on the ice Richter was the better goalie.
What about goalies like Bouse Hutton, Paddy Moran and Georges Vezina. All of whom pioneered the position and are old enough to be most of these guys’ grandfathers.
I am with the Admin on this . Roy was top dog come playoff time, I would say
in that order
Hasek ahead of Marty!!!!
Maybe put Roy ahead of him but really
No Worsley on the list? No one was ever better at shoving his maskless mug into a crowd of sticks and skates than the old Gumper. “Face-save and a beauty by Worsley!!”
I cant compare Hasek with goaltenders from 40′ 50′ 60′ or 70′
But i can compare him with Brodeur or Roy. There are much more arguments that say Hasek is the best (6 vezina, 2hart trophy, played in bad Buffalo Sabres and made them look good – SC finals..)
but everyone knows that for usa or canadian people is very hard to say that someone not borned in North America is better than someone borned in North America 🙂
something similar is when you dont put Jagr on the top 10 forwards list 🙂
Have to agree with Masher, Gump Worsley needs to be on this list. (i will admit, I am a long-time Rangers fan).
And overall, Brodeur deserves the #1 spot.
1 goalie should be on the list allen bester.come on this list is wrong!
I might suggest Harry Lumley and Gump worsley..all the listed goal keepers are great..I saw cheevers and Roy.They just didnt do it for me..maybe Bower wouldnt fit either.
Difficult to guage performance of goalies over different eras. Stats alone don’t always provide a true measure of greatness. Case in point, Bobby Orr. Most would say he was the greatest defenseman ever despite almost a dozen other defenseman with better lifetime stats.