If Martin Brodeur hadn’t suffered the first serious injury of his career earlier this season, chances are he’d be breaking Patrick Roy’s all-time wins mark right…about…now.
Instead, that precious standard (551) remains safe for the next few months, with Brodeur needing seven more victories upon his return to catch the king of the crease.
So Saturday night, when the Montreal Canadiens officially retire No. 33, Roy can bask unfettered, with the record still safely in his possession for the immediate future.
Of course, the night would have been magical regardless. There’s as much buzz surrounding it in Montreal as this weekend’s Grey Cup.
And even when Brodeur does surpass Roy, No. 33 will have an army of supporters claiming he remains the best netminder of all-time.
They may have a tougher time making a case for him as the best Habs stopper, however. In our new book, Habs Heroes, senior writer Ken Campbell enlists the help of hockey historians and franchise experts to come up with a ranking of the top 100 players to suit up for the bleu, blanc et rouge. Roy, who spent roughly 10 of his 18 NHL years in Montreal, slides in as the No. 2 goalie behind Jacques Plante.
Without giving away their specific placements among the top 100, here are the 11 goalies featured in the book (which, coincidentally, can be purchased online HERE).
1. Jacques Plante (1953-63). Six Stanley Cups, six Vezina Trophies, one Hart Trophy, 312 wins, 2.23 GAA, 58 shutouts. The six Cups, and NHL MVP award, push pioneering Plante past Roy.
2. Patrick Roy (1985-95). Two Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies, 289 wins, 2.77 GAA, 29 shutouts. All-time great money goalie carried Habs to two Cups.
3. Ken Dryden (1970-79). Six Stanley Cups, five Vezina Trophies, one Conn Smythe Trophy, 258 wins, 2.24 GAA, 46 shutouts. Had mostly great teams in front of him, but all he did was win.
4. Bill Durnan (1943-50). Two Stanley Cups, six Vezina Trophies, 208 wins, 2.36 GAA, 34 shutouts. Entered NHL as a 27-year-old rookie and dominated until he decided to retire seven seasons later.
5. Georges Vezina (1917-26). Two Stanley Cups, 175 wins, 15 shutouts. Numbers don’t tell the whole story for one of the game’s first legends.
6. George Hainsworth (1926-33, 1937). Two Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies, 167 wins, 1.75 GAA, 75 shutouts. Owns the two best single-season GAA marks in NHL history.
7. Gump Worsley (1963-70). Four Stanley Cups, two Vezina Trophies, 92 wins, 2.42 GAA, 16 shutouts. Was a key performer for three Cup teams; backup for the fourth.
8. Gerry McNeil (1947-54, 1957). Two Stanley Cups, 119 wins, 2.36 GAA, 28 shutouts. Toiled in Durnan’s shadow before getting a break, then was usurped by Plante.
9. Charlie Hodge (1954-67). Four Stanley Cups, two Vezina Trophies, 117 wins, 2.46 GAA, 21 shutouts. Shone as Plante’s understudy before having a solid run of his own in the 1960s.
10. Rogie Vachon (1966-71). Three Stanley Cups, one Vezina Trophy, 110 wins, 2.65 GAA, 13 shutouts. Had moments of brilliance, but wasn’t content as a backup and was moved to Los Angeles.
11. Jose Theodore (1996-06). One Vezina Trophy, one Hart Trophy, 141 wins, 2.62 GAA, 23 shutouts. One brilliant season is offset by more losses in his Habs tenure (163) than wins.
(Notes: All stats and facts are as members of the Canadiens in the NHL. Conn Smythe Trophy came into existence in 1966. Vezina Trophy came into existence in 1927 and was awarded to the goalie with the best goals-against average until 1982, at which point it was awarded to the best netminder as voted on by the NHL’s GMs.)
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every Friday.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.