From 1962 until 2000, nearly 40 years, Terry Sawchuk was the All Time leader in Wins. From 1964 until 2007, Sawchuk was the All Time leader in Shutouts, a record many thought was unbreakable. From 1961 until 2001, a half century, no other goalie had more Point Shares.
These metrics make it seem like Terry Sawchuk was one of the greatest goalies of all time. But the bloom is off the rose and now a lot of people think that’s not true; that, aside from a stretch at the beginning of his career when he was truly great, he was more of a compiler.
Listen to us talk about Sawchuk’s case for goalie GOAT status here:
Though he only won one Stanley Cup, and the Vezinas he won were before it was a “Best Goalie” or “Most Valuable Goalie” award, Glenn Hall was one of the greatest goalies in NHL history. Just look at all the black ink on his Hockey Reference page. There’s one name on more goalie leader-boards than just about any other, and it’s Glenn Hall’s.
So the question isn’t, “Does Glenn Hall belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?” The question is, “where does Glenn Hall rank among the greatest goalies of all time?”
But in those 8 seasons, he won six Stanley Cups as a starter (playing in nearly every game when they won those cups), five Vezina trophies, the Conn Smythe and the Calder. He was a 1st Team All Star six times and only missed the end-of-season All Star teams his first season, when he played in six games.
To play devil’s advocate, he played for the Greatest Hockey Team of All Time. And he might not have deserved his Conn Smythe.
So, is Ken Dryden the Greatest Goalie of All Time?
For two straight years, Bernie Parent was the best goalie in the NHL. He won two straight Vezinas (when it was the Jennings) and two straight Conn Smythes. Additionally, by Hockey Reference’s Goals Saved Above Average metric, Parent’s 1973-74 season is the greatest ever by an NHL goaltender.
Does this brief stretch of dominance put him among the ranks of the very best goalies ever? He’s certainly one of the couple best goalies of the 1970s.
Listen to us discuss Parent’s Hall of Fame case here:
We don’t know exactly what happened between 1987 and now, but the standards for goalie admission got a lot stricter. (Well, we do know that goalie stats got better.) It’s so hard to get admitted into the Hall of Fame as a goalie now, but when Ed Giacomin was inducted, it seems like it was less hard.
Giacomin has good traditional stats, such as wins. And it’s arguable he was the Most Valuable Goalie in the league for four seasons.
But he was never the best goalie in the league by Save Percentage, Goals Saved Above Average or even GAA – that Vezina is for total Goals Against – and his peak only lasted about four years. The rest of his regular season career is not outstanding (especially as he got older).
Additionally, his playoff numbers aren’t great.
So does Ed Giacomin actually belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Listen to us discuss it here:
Tony Esposito has one of the best regular season careers of any NHL goalie ever, not just in germs of his peak but in terms of how long he was among the best goalies in the league (at least by Goals Saved Above Average). Also, he helped change goalie masks for the better.
Yet his playoff numbers are significantly worse. He underperformed in one of his two good playoff runs and he was only ever on one truly great international team, as a backup.
So, it’s obvious Tony Esposito belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame but where does he rank all time?