Who are the most prolific ice hockey goaltenders of all time?
The NHL has a plethora of talented players but the goaltenders usually get the short end of the stick. The goalies are one of the most important parts of the team. Let’s talk about the most prolific goalies of all time.
In the NHL, the forwards are usually the only players that are discussed. The goalies are probably the most crucial players for any team because they stop the puck from going into the net. Ice hockey would be a vastly different sport if there is no goalie present in between the goalposts.
When you have an elite goalie leading the way for the team, you can expect the squad to function like a well-oiled machine. It’s not a surprise that all of the goalies mentioned here had substantial success in their careers. They had such a huge impact on their teams that helped them stand out even if they play an overlooked role.
Affectionately called ‘The Dominator’, Dominik Hašek had a significant impact on how the goalie role is played. He played 16 years in the NHL but he could’ve had a longer career if he started earlier. He only started in the NHL when he was 25 years of age and he didn’t have a starting role until he was 27.
Despite not playing starter minutes until he was 27, Hašek still has an impressive résumé. During his career, Hašek had 389 wins, six Vezina Trophies, two Hart Memorial Trophies, and of course, two Stanley Cups when he was playing for the Detroit Red Wings.
Hašek is mostly known for his days with the Red Wings and the Buffalo Sabres. He was stellar during his pro career but he was on another level when he was playing for those two teams. He also had stints with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators but he never got the time to shine with them.
Hašek had an unorthodox goaltending style because he always used his flexibility to help defend his goal. His style was described as ‘flopping’ because he always did falling moves to utilize his entire body to stop the puck from going into the net. He has a good point and Hašek was stellar during the majority of his career.
The Czech star explained why he uses unique plays to help in stopping shots at the goal. Hašek said, ‘They say I am unorthodox, I flop around the ice like some kind of fish. I say, who cares as long as I stop the puck?’.
When it comes to the hard-nosed goalie, it is hard to talk about any other player besides Jacques Plante. He played for a plethora of NHL teams but he is mostly known for playing for the Montreal Canadiens. He is the forefather of modern goalies.
Plante is not only a multi-time All-Star but he is also a one-time winner of the Hart Trophy. He also won the Vezina Trophy a whopping six times. Those trophies cemented as an early favourite for the top goalie tag. He was amazing during his career because he was a key cog in the Montreal dynasty of the 1950s.
He was influential in the sport because he was the top goalie at the time. He is also the player responsible for popularizing the goalie mask which has helped so many athletes over the years protect their face from a wayward pick hurling towards them.
In terms of his playstyle, Plante was a solid goalie because he focused on positional play. This kind of focus on being in the right position translated well to the modern goalies because they value that aspect of their playstyle the most.
He has deservedly received a nod to the Hall of Fame back in 1978. He was such a legend for the sport and his impact is still felt today.
While some athletes will be successful with one team during their careers, Patrick Roy had legendary stints with two teams. He is considered the best goalie by many fans and pundits but that can’t be a unanimous opinion because of the other names on this list.
During his career, Roy always proved that he was technically sound. He did not panic when the puck was near him as he stopped many shots most of the time. With a record three Conn Smythe trophies in his cabinet, Roy is cemented as a top goalie.
His cool demeanour is fondly remembered by many players because he always stayed calm in dire situations. With the nickname ‘Saint Patrick’, it is easy to see that he was loved as a Canadiens star or when he was playing for the Colorado Avalanche.
Roy had a huge impact on the sport and he’s always seen as an inspiration for any goalie that enters the league.
The New Jersey Devils were a dynasty in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Martin Brodeur was the goalie for the run atop the NHL. Some fans have speculated that Martin was lucky to play with such a stacked squad but he played a huge part in their success during that time.
Martin brought solid stability to the Devils as he could play any goalie style in the book. He was mobile for his size and he loved playing side to side. With his positioning, he cemented himself as a top goalie. He had a 24-year career and he will always be seen as one of the best goalies to don the gloves.
It is difficult to pin down who the best goalie is but you are spoiled for choices because there are many all-time great goalies in the NHL’s history.
Words: Cholo Martin