Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reconsidering the dominator

Yesterday's news that Dominik Hasek is retiring was somewhat lost with the Leafs adding Ron Wilson.

It's a bit of a shame, and not at all surprising. Throughout his career, Hasek has managed to irritate pretty much every Canadian hockey fan. Bitter by his play in Ottawa or, mostly, by 19-bloody-98, Canadians have never really looked objectively at Hasek's career, which must rank as one of the greatest by a player in his position of all-time.

Playing in Buffalo, Detroit (twice) and Ottawa he had 389 career regular-season wins, good enough for 10th all-time. He was sixth all time in shut-outs with 81 and had 65 playoff wins (10th all-time).

He won six Vezina Trophies, three Jennings Trophies and two Lester B. Pearson Trophies as the NHL Players' Association's top player. He is the only goalie in NHL history to win two Hart Trophies as MVP, was named an all-star six times and, of course, there was that gold medal in 1998.

It's time to give the odd duck his due--he's one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game. But, how good was he?

Top 10 all-time? Almost certainly. Top five? There it gets a little trickier, but an argument can be made. It's a bit of a fools game to compare eras, but it's foolish to spend as much time thinking about sports as most of us do, so...

Sawchuk probably ranks above, as does Plante. Hasek likely gets the nod against the Tony Espositos and Gerry Cheevers of the world.

Ken Dryden probably didn't play long enough to rank ahead.

Amongst his contemporaries, however, only Patrick Roy is clearly ahead. Marty Brodeur is the only other player in the conversation.

So, depending on where you place Brodeur, Hasek ranks somewhere between the fourth and fifth best goaltender of all-time. He's good enough that his retirement should have certainly generated a lot more conversation than it did yesterday. As Canadians, we should probably get over ourselves when it comes to Hasek. After all, it wasn't his fault Brendan Shanahan hit him with the puck.

1 comment:

sager said...

My all-time top five would be Roy, Hasek, Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuk and Saskatchewan's own Glenn Hall.

I do believe that when people do this, they overrate goalies from the Original Six era (then again, they played all 70 games, their equipment was primitive, and they didn't wear masks). They also tend to give too wide a berth from the 1994-2004 Dead Puck Era (which we're not truly out of yet).

Johnny Bower and the Gumper aresomewhere in the top 15 or 20, though. Cheevers rates higher than most people think; he won 2 Cups, perhaps if he hadn't jumped to the WHA he would have won another one.