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Patrick Roy's Wink

1990s NHL Goalies countdown video

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An embarrassment of riches — the best decade of goaltending for my money, stats and "dead puck era" be damned. So many incredible goalies outside of the often-mentioned Brodeur/Roy/Hasek trinity. I think what seals the deal on this decade's top spot for goaltending is the diversity of style you saw across this crop of guys. None of the technique-driven modern goalie schooling that result into today's (uber-talented) butterfly machines, nor the stand-up prevalence that reigned for so much of the previous decades — these guys had vastly different approaches to the position, and it made for some of the most exciting, unpredictable, stylish goaltending you'll ever see. Each of these men had a flair that was their own — I think you could put all 15 of these guys out there with identical jerseys and equipment, and a lot of us could still tell exactly who was who. 

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Thank you.  

Well that was most of my boy hood heros.  90s were the golden age of goaltending IMO.  Roy was a touch too low on the list. And Irbe shoulda been on it.  

@stackem30 you are dead ON sir. 

Edited by Mike24
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Excellent footage. I take issue with placing Patrick Roy at #2 - too much cult of personality surrounding Roy to separate fact from fiction, even 20+ years later. Hasek is the undisputed champ of 90s goaltending, whether or not one appreciates his 'technique'. Hasek simply stopped pucks, regardless of the team in front of him. Belfour played on some up-and-down Blackhawks teams in spite of the fact that they were a perennial playoff club. HIs 97-98, 98-99 and 99-00 seasons with Dallas were unreal - he finally overcame his lingering back issues and became a stone wall in net. 

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1 hour ago, dualshowman said:

Excellent footage. I take issue with placing Patrick Roy at #2 - too much cult of personality surrounding Roy to separate fact from fiction, even 20+ years later. Hasek is the undisputed champ of 90s goaltending, whether or not one appreciates his 'technique'. Hasek simply stopped pucks, regardless of the team in front of him. Belfour played on some up-and-down Blackhawks teams in spite of the fact that they were a perennial playoff club. HIs 97-98, 98-99 and 99-00 seasons with Dallas were unreal - he finally overcame his lingering back issues and became a stone wall in net. 

Yeah, my gut reaction was to take issue with Belfour being #3 over Brodeur, but when I thought more about it, it was the right spot for him. Belfour had a thoroughly impressive body of work in the 90's, complete with the narrative arc you just described (fitting that he capped off the decade with a Cup).

I always think of Brodeur's career as three stages:

  1.  Young Hot Goalie (1993-1999): He won rookie of the year, he won a Cup in the shortened 1995 season, and he was a perennial All-Star. He posted some incredible individual numbers during the regular season (1.88 GAA, 10 shutouts, tons of wins, etc.), and propelled the Devils to first place in their division/conference several times. But he struggled in the playoffs after that first Cup. He won no Vezinas, but only because Hasek was absolutely laying waste to the NHL landscape. Brodeur was certainly one of the league's better goalies, but the jury was out as to what kind of career he would have.
  2. Great Goalie (2000-2008): This is where Brodeur established himself as the top goalie in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup in 2000, lost in the Finals in 2001, and won two years later in 2003. He piled up Vezinas, winning them in 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2008. He also continued to have phenomenal seasons, and notably, some of his best came after the Devils legendary defensive core dissolved. He was incredibly consistent behind some iffy Devils rosters, playing ~75 games and posting 40+ win seasons virtually every year (usually first in the NHL). There was really no question he was the man at this point.
  3. Legendary Goalie / Decline (2009-2014): This last phase of Brodeur's career was where he started eclipsing records, pushing his own career numbers to levels that may not be touched — his wins and shutouts being the two major milestones. It's also when he started to look human. He suffered his first notable injury in 2009, and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade in 2011. He was still the backbone of the team, and posted respectable numbers. His last major hurrah was an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, where he really showed he could still play at the highest level. After that, it was all downhill.

Re: Patrick Roy, I agree about the cult of personality — though my undeniable Brodeur-fandom and the fact that I didn't even watch hockey until 1996 points to some clear bias/sample-size issues! Being a Montreal icon will certainly add to your legend, as will winning two Cups in the back-nine of your career. Roy's one of the greatest goalies of all-time, no question there. His playoff performances are certainly where he earned his legend, and in some people's minds, that matters way more than consistency. I was never particularly knocked out by the performances/saves I watched, but again, the guy was a winner through-and-through. I still think he deserves the #2 spot in the 1990's.

In terms of the 1990's, Hasek #1 all the way. I don't know that I'd place him at #1 all-time  — it's another discussion altogether, but I think it's a pointless/convoluted debate: there are too many ways to slice the argument, and comparing modern goalies to the likes of Sawchuk feels equally pointless — but Hasek was far and away the best goalie of the 1990's. What a fucking run he had! No nickname was more fitting than "The Dominator".

I've told this story several times, but the first hockey game I ever went to was a Devils/Sabres game in December of 1995. My father got some seats about 4 rows back from the visiting team's net, and for 3 periods, I watched Brodeur and Hasek flop, stack, snag, deflect, and kick their way to a 0-0 tie (the only in Devils history). Both goalies had 37 saves, and years later, I would read that they actually sawed the game puck in half, each keeping one for their own collection. I left the game feeling positive that playing hockey goalie was the coolest thing on the planet, and that was what began a life-long passion.

Long-live 1990's goaltending ✌️

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