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?”
There is a never-ending debate among hockey fans as to which player of Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr was the greatest. There are certain areas where each stands supreme.
Our vote is for Orr because we think he played the more difficult and more important position and because he revolutionized the position as well. (Also, the skating.) But at least one of us thinks there’s room for debate.
Frank Mahovlich was considered the second best LW of the 1960s. (The first is arguably the Greatest of All Time.) But outside of Leafs fans, how well is he remembered?
He was likely more dominant in certain areas than you think but, in part because he never scored more than 49 goals or 96 points, and had some poor playoffs, it seems like he’s not as highly regarded now as he was in his prime. Also, like most LWs, his numbers wouldn’t look as good if he was a centre or RW.
Mahovlich obviously belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame (see his resume below) but, in this episode, we wonder where he ranks among the greatest Left Wings 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?
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?