Goaltender is widely thought of as the most important position in hockey. Who’s the best of all-time? It’s a topic that is always being debated, and Patrick and I take our stab at it this week… Patrick Roy By Ryan Porth
Patrick Roy is the greatest goalie in NHL history. This really shouldn’t be a discussion, but it is.
In 19 NHL seasons, Roy racked up 551 career wins (2nd all-time), played 1,029 games in net (2nd) and set postseason records, including playoff wins (151; 52 more than anybody else). He posted 23 shutouts in the ‘second season’, tied for first. He won four Stanley Cups; two with Montreal and Colorado each. ‘Saint Patrick’ is also the only player to ever win three Conn Smythe Trophies.
One of the most impressive things about Roy’s career is that he was equally great with the Canadiens and Avalanche. As noted, he won two Cups with each team. He won three Vezina Trophies and three Jennings Trophies in Montreal. With Colorado, he led the league in goals-against average in 2001-02 (1.94) and posted seven straight 30-win seasons, making the Avalanche one of the toughest teams to beat in that time. His #33 is retired in both cities.
Roy, who was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2006, made an impact beyond statistics. He is known for revolutionizing the butterfly style for goaltenders. Nowadays, the vast majority of goalies play that style, but it may not be that way if it weren’t for Roy.
The goalie Roy is often compared to is Martin Brodeur, and for good reason. They were arguably the two most dominant goalies of the 1990’s and set multiple NHL records. There are two reasons why I’ll take Roy any day over Brodeur, though.
Roy didn’t have the luxury of playing in a defensive trap system like Brodeur has in New Jersey. Additionally, Roy didn’t get a chance to pad his wins total in shootouts; Brodeur has won 35 games via the ‘skills competition’, as some people call it. If you take away those 35 wins, Roy has a better win percentage.
Roy also wasn’t afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve. 30 years old at the time, Roy exited Montreal in unprecedented fashion. After being pulled out of a 1995 game where he allowed 9 goals, he told the team president he was finished in Montreal. Four days later, Roy was in Colorado. With the Avs, his competitive spirit was evident, especially when he decided to drop the gloves at center ice with Detroit’s Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon.
If I were a coach and I needed to win one game, Patrick Roy would be the guy I’d put between the pipes. Why? Because he’s the greatest goalie in NHL history.
Terry Sawchuk By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to discussing the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, many names will be thrown out there whether it is Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Jacques Plante, Dominik Hasek, Tony Esposito, Vladislav Tretiak and so on and so forth.
One name that deserves a long, long look is former Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers netminder Terry Sawchuk. While he may not have made as many memorable saves as Roy, Hasek or Brodeur, he was one of, if not the best, goaltender in his time.
Looking at statistics, there is no question that Sawchuk should be considered the greatest NHL netminder of all time. He had 447 wins, a career goals-against average of 2.52 and a staggering 103 shutouts in the regular season. In the playoffs, Sawchuk was just as good. He posted 266 wins, had a 2.54 goals against average and 12 shutouts to go along with four Stanley Cups.
Sure, several of his records have been broken, but look at what he did in his time. Playing without a mask in a very open game, Sawchuk won a ton of games, stopped many, many, many, shots and was simply fearless between the pipes. Nowadays, goaltenders are like Michelin men with the bulky equipment and take up so much room between the pipes.
One can also say that like Brodeur, Sawchuk was the product of the great teams in front of him. While that may be true, he was still tested in net between the pipes and more often than not, passed with flying colors and often, the “W”.
Sawchuk is an NHL legend, a hockey legend and of course, a netminding legend. That is the way Sawchuk will always be remembered.
With that said, he should also go down as the best goaltender in NHL history.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.