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Pick A Goalie(s)  For The HHOF

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

The great goaltender logjam — who was better than whom — continues to challenge voters for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

How do you select Tom Barrasso over Mike Vernon? Mike Richter over Curtis Joseph? Chris Osgood over Vernon? Joseph over Barrasso? Richter over Osgood?

Not one of them is a sure thing to make the Hall the way Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour were slam-dunk choices. All five candidates are more in the borderline range in a position that is under represented in the Hall. They may get in one day, they may never get in. But all five goaltenders, through similar eras and a wide-ranging of both statistical and eye test discrepancies, are worthy of consideration.

“I know all five of them very well and I like every one of them. They all made their teams better. They were all workhorses. Three of them played for us,” said Jimmy Devellano, the former general manager of the Detroit Red Wings and an elected member of the Hall. “I could see all five getting in and you really couldn’t argue against them. And I could see none of them getting in and I don’t know if you could argue against that.”


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If you’re trying to make a case based on stats rather than subjective feelings or team success, Joseph is the only one who I think firmly belongs. His resume is very comparable to Belfour’s; Joseph probably peaked very slightly higher than Belfour (IMO Belfour’s second Vezina should have went to Joseph) and they both had about the same number of elite seasons, although Belfour had more staying power and more “good” seasons.

Tom Barrasso I’m like 50/50 on. He’s basically my cutline HHOF goalie. Almost everyone better than him is already in with maybe two clear exceptions (more in a minute), but very very very few worse than him are.

The others are all varying stages of no for me.

- Richter had a decent number of borderline great seasons—more than I remembered before looking up the numbers, actually—but was never truly dominant and just wasn’t quite great enough for long enough. A few more solid seasons and he’d be in, but it didn’t happen.

- Osgood had consistency and staying power but was never elite. One of my all time favorites but definitely not a Hall of Famer.

- Vernon is, IMO, severely overrated. He had more statistically below average seasons than above average ones. His legacy is all about two very good springs where he won Cups behind very good teams. He had good fortune and good timing, but not especially good numbers.

One guy I would put ahead of everyone on this list except Joseph, based purely on the numbers, is John Vanbiesbrouck. Statistically speaking he probably should be in; he was consistently good to great his entire career, and his 1993-94 season was one of the greatest ever—it just happened to overlap with Peak Hasek. That said, Beezer’s still close enough to the cutline that, given his documented affinity for racial slurs, I’m pretty comfortable with him staying out.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/19/20 at 08:20 AM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

Osgood….... Per Scotty Bowman…..

“ Bowman: I still prefer to think that goaltending is the most important position. Very seldom do teams win a playoff series without strong goaltending. If the goalie in your end isn’t outplaying the guy at the other end you are going to have a lot of trouble. You need a good defenseman, but the most important player is always the goaltender.”

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 05/19/20 at 10:28 AM ET


Chris Osgood’s playoff series record as a starter in series where his team was 20 or more points better than the opposing team in the regular season:


Chris Osgood’s playoff series record as a starter in series where his team was no more than a 19-point regular season favorite:


Detroit Red Wings playoff series record in series where Osgood was on the roster but primarily on the bench:


No doubt Osgood was capable of great play for short bursts of time and had some very very good playoff runs, especially the last hurrah near the end of his career (2008 and 2009). But I don’t think there’s any question that goaltending was the weakest link on a lot of outstanding Detroit teams.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/19/20 at 10:40 AM ET

Steeb's avatar

The best thing you can say about Ozzy is, he was (a handful 90-footers aside) very solid for a very long time, esp by today’s standards. He didn’t win a ton of games on his own, but he was reliably steady, esp in big games. Also he bloodied Patrick Roy’s face. Not sure that gets him into the Hall. I’d be happy if he did (I was at his 400th and penultimate win of his career, fwiw), but I’m not going to be outraged if he didn’t.

Posted by Steeb on 05/19/20 at 11:32 PM ET


I actually agree about Osgood’s impressive consistency!

It’s very uncommon for goalies, even extremely talented ones, to put up highly consistent results year in and year out for over a decade. Usually there are a lot of peaks and valleys.

But Osgood, in like 14ish years of work (before his game fell apart those last couple of seasons), had maybe one borderline great season and one genuinely bad one, statistically speaking. The rest were all tightly clustered around league average, or just above. That is kind of amazing to me.

I tend to think of Osgood as a guy who had middling talent but carved out a long, successful career due to hard work, mental resilience, self confidence, and a dedication to self improvement. Kind of the goalie version of, say Kris Draper.

I don’t think that makes him Hall-worthy, but I do think it’s damned impressive and admirable in its own way.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/19/20 at 11:50 PM ET

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