Saturday, March 21, 2009

My pick for greatest goalie...Dominik Hasek

The spotlight has certainly been on Martin Brodeur and Patick Roy over the past two weeks as they both sit on top of the NHL statistical heap. The debate rages on over which is better but are either one deserving of the title - Greatest Goalie Ever? In my books Dominik Hasek may have the edge.

Hasek did not win any Stanley Cups and only finished 10th in career wins. He happened to luck out by playing for the Red Wings between Stanley Cup wins. Part of the reason is that Hasek was not the dominating goalie late in his career which is when he landed in Detroit. There is no arguing that Brodeur and Roy were outstanding goalies for longer stretches.

But there is probably little argument that Hasek was easily the best goalie in the NHL from 1993-94 to 2000-2002. He dominated other goalies including Roy and Brodeur who were both in the NHL during that period. During that 9 year span he won two Hart Trophy’s as the league MVP and six Vezina trophies as the NHL’s best goalie. He led the league in save percentage for 6 straight years from 1993-94 to 1998-99 and in many of those seasons the runner up wasn’t even close.

Hasek is the all time career leader in save percentage at .9223. Brodeur (6th) and Roy (13th) are at .9136 and .9102 respectively. As the debate rages on about the significance of wins for goalies, you have to remember that Hasek played for the mediocre Buffalo Sabres for years. So wins would be much harder to come by. Which is why his career save percentage is incredible. Facing 40 shots in a game was not an unusual occurence for Hasek. How often has Brodeur faced 40 shots in a game which is one reason he can play over 70 games in a season.

Another consideration is that Hasek started his NHL career later than Roy and Brodeur. He was 26 when he arrived in the NHL and as a result sits in 18th place for career games for a goalie (Roy and Brodeur and 1st and 2nd). So considering his 10th place finish in games won playing for the Sabres, he did great. Hasek is just one of many great players who did not play for a Stanley Cup winner. That shouldn't be a knock on these players.

So who is the best? There is no way to determine. But I have never seen a goalie play net like Hasek during his prime. He was simply out of this world.