The Hockey News 2011 NHL Draft Central
The Hockey News 2011 NHL Draft Central
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Sean Burke, Cutris Joseph, Grant Fuhr.
There are five goalies who've managed to rank in the top 25 for career wins while playing for six teams or more. Let's take a look back at those five travelling netminders.
hen we think of history's best goaltenders, we tend to immediately picture them in a certain uniform. Like anyone else, goalies can occasionally be traded or hit free agency. But we like to think of the great goalies as being tied to one team, maybe two at the most. Martin Brodeur was a Devil. Patrick Roy was a Canadien, then an Av. Dominik Hasek, with apologies to the Red Wings, will always be a Sabre. And Hall-of-Fame talents from Bill Durnan to Ken Dryden to Henrik Lundqvist spent their entire careers with one franchise.
But that's not always how it works out. Every now and then, a goalie comes along who ends up spending his career jumping from team-to-team, even as they’re building an all-star resume. In fact, there are five goalies who've managed to rank in the top 25 for career wins while playing for six teams or more. Let's take a look back at those five travelling netminders, and some of the stops you may not remember them making.
He was best known as: The Oilers' starting goaltender for much of their late-80s dynasty. Fuhr won four Cup rings, to go with a Vezina and two seasons leading the league in wins. His numbers were never jaw-dropping, and they look awful compared to modern day goalies (he was runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 1988 with an .881 save percentage). But he developed a reputation as a guy who would always make the big save when it mattered, and no less than Wayne Gretzky has called him the greatest goalie of all-time.
You might also remember him as: A Toronto Maple Leaf during the early days of the Cliff Fletcher rebuild, a Buffalo Sabre who helped them to their first playoff series win in a decade in 1993, and a St. Louis Blue who nearly started every game for an entire season because Mike Keenan was a crazy person.
But he also managed to play for: The Flames and the Kings. OK, a quick stint in Los Angeles was pretty much mandatory for every ex-Oiler of that era, so maybe that's not surprising. But Fuhr stuck around long enough to suit up in a forgotten 1999-2000 season for the Calgary Flames at the tail end of his career, spending most of the year backing up Fred Brathwaite.
He was best known as: That's a tough call, but let's go with his four years in Toronto, where he helped transform Pat Quinn's Maple Leafs from also-ran to Cup contender almost overnight. He was a Vezina finalist twice, and was good enough to head into the 2002 Winter Olympics as the starter for Team Canada. There wasn't anything he couldn't do. Well, other than argue with a referee without accidentally tackling him.
You might also remember him as: He broke in with the Blues in the early 90s, highlighted by a dominant playoff run in 1993. From there it was off to Edmonton, where he only spent three years but will always be remembered for almost single-handedly beating the Dallas Stars in an epic 1997 playoff series. And then there were the two seasons in Detroit, which are best remembered for him being the scapegoat in a playoff loss and then victimized by Dominik Hasek's unretirement.
But he also managed to play for: Like Fuhr, Joseph also snuck in a shady season with the Flames, starting five games in 2007-08. And then there was his two-year stint in Phoenix right after the 2005 lockout. Although in fairness, pretty much everyone did that, with names ranging from Brett Hull to Mike Ricci to Petr Nedved to Owen Nolan making cameos on those weird Coyotes teams.
He was best known as: The legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie who racked up six Vezinas with the Habs and six Stanley Cups through the 50s and 60s.
You might also remember him as: His longest post-Canadiens stint came in Toronto in the early 70s. He also played two years with the Rangers, and two more with the expansion Blues (during which he won another Vezina).
But he also managed to play for: The Boston Bruins in 1973, which you could be forgiven for not remembering since he was 44 years old and only appeared in eight games. And that wasn't even the end of the road for the future Hall of Famer. After a year off, he headed to the WHA and played 31 games for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1974-75 season, during which he turned 46.
He was best known as: The twelve years he spent with the Penguins from 1988 to 2000, during which he backstopped the team to two Stanley Cups. Here's a random Tom Barrasso fun fact: During his first season as a Penguin, he set an all-time record that still stands for most PIM by a goaltender who wasn't Ron Hextall.
You might also remember him as: Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Barrasso spent six years in Buffalo. The first of those came in 1983-84, when he broke in as an 18-year-old rookie and won the Calder and the Vezina, a feat that's pretty much unequalled in NHL history.
But he also managed to play for: Four other teams for like a week each. That's only barely an exaggeration. You might recall his brief stint in Ottawa, which was mainly remembered for the time he swore on Hockey Night in Canada. But did you know he played for the Blues for six games in 2002? Or that he played for the Hurricanes for half a season in 2001? Or that the Hurricanes traded him to the Maple Leafs so he could back up Joseph for four games? If not, it's OK. I'm pretty sure Barrasso himself doesn't even remember at least two of those.
He was best known as: Let's go with his first four seasons in New Jersey, including a rookie year in which he played 13 games and still somehow finished tied with Ray Bourque for eighth in MVP voting. He also established a reputation as a guy you did not want to fight, although more than a few goalies forgot that lesson over the years.
You might also remember him as: After his time in New Jersey, he went on to spend five years in Hartford, followed by part of one in Carolina after the franchise moved.
But he also managed to play for: Everyone else. Let's start with the Coyotes, where he spent five years (not counting his later role as goaltending coach). You probably remember that one. But what about his parts of two season in Florida? A half season in Los Angeles? A year in Tampa Bay? Not one but two separate stints in Philadelphia? A partial season with the Seattle Metropolitans? Sixteen games with the Canucks?
OK, I made one of those up. But the point is that Burke got around. He switched teams nine times over the course of his career, including five trades, two free agent signings, a waiver claim and a franchise relocation. And that's not counting the 1991-92 season he split between the San Diego Gulls and the Canadian Olympic team during a contract dispute.
Burke was pretty much the most travelled halfway decent goaltender of all-time. Is there anything wrong with that? (Re-watches old Burke fight clips.) If there is, I'm sure not saying so.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
The Islanders at center ice of Barclays Center
The arena’s ice on Friday night was called “unplayable” and “bouncy,” and it has less to do with temperatures than it does the piping under the ice.
New York Islanders fans’ gripes about the Barclays Center have been plenty. There’s been complaints about the sight lines, the travel and the building design, in general, and it has left fans hoping for a return to Nassau Coliseum or for an all-new building for their Islanders to call home. The biggest objection to the arena, though, could be one that doesn’t really impact the fans.
Over the past few games, the center of attention for the Islanders hasn’t so much been the on-ice performance as it has been the ice conditions, which have been downright awful, according to the players.
Winger Cal Clutterbuck’s words rang out the loudest after the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Clutterbuck called the surface “unplayable” on Friday night, and rearguard Johnny Boychuk added that pucks wouldn’t settle down, meaning players couldn’t do much more than “throw it on net.”
But complaints about the ice can be normal over the course of a season. Combine a string of unseasonable temperatures with a spectator-filled contest and there’s an almost perfect storm for bad, bouncy ice. Trouble is that it hasn’t been a one night issue.
Players were much less outspoken about the conditions following Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, but not exactly silent on the ice issue. Captain John Tavares told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte that he didn’t want to talk about the ice but said it was “a little better” Sunday, while coach Jack Capuano said it was simply something both teams had to deal with.
“We don’t want any excuses,” Capuano said, according to Botte. “Whether the ice is good or bad, both teams have to play on it. I’m sure they’re trying to do the best they can here, and I’ll leave it at that.”
But the issue with the ice goes well beyond the temperature. According to Staple, the team has ice engineer and dehumidifiers that work to keep the rink in its best possible shape, but the biggest issue is literally an underlying one.
Staple reported that the Islanders are currently using plastic pipes below their ice surface instead of steel, and Chris Botta added that “all other NHL rinks have steel pipes.” Botta said that arena management knows of the issue, as do the Islanders, but it wasn’t fixed during the summer because it would have required a complete shutdown of the building.
When temperatures drop, the issue of warm weather impacting the playing surface will most likely fade away — or at least lessen, given that the sheet should stay much cooler in the winter — but as the season nears its culmination, the temperature could again be an issue and the team’s annoyance with the ice could again come to the fore.
Rumblings about the Islanders’ unhappiness with Barclays Center have been ongoing nearly since the day the puck was dropped to start the 2015-16 season, and they persist to this day. And if bad ice conditions continue without any fix in sight, you can almost guarantee the talk of the Islanders looking for a new home is going to continue.
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The Bruins will be missing a key cog from their lineup over the weekend as David Backes is out following a procedure to remove the “olecranon bursa from his elbow.”
David Backes’ absence from the Boston lineup Tuesday night came as a surprise, and the Bruins announced Wednesday that they’re not expecting the rugged winger to make his return before the end of the weekend.
Though there had been no signs that Backes, 32, was dealing with any sort of injury, he was unexpectedly listed as day-to-day ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with the Minnesota Wild. And Wednesday morning, Bruins GM Don Sweeney announced that the veteran will be out for at least the next two games — in New York against the Rangers and in Detroit against the Red Wings — after he “underwent the removal of the olecranon bursa from his elbow on Monday.” Sweeney said that an update will be available on Backes following the weekend, at which point a clearer timeline for his return should be available.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the olecranon bursa, or elbow bursa, is the fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between the bone and the skin near the point of the elbow. Backes was likely dealing with bursitis, which is the inflammation of the bursa, which can create a large, painful, swollen ball on the elbow. That would no doubt make it hard to play for Backes.
There’s no telling how long Backes could be sidelined with the ailment, but a spate of injuries has the Bruins no doubt hoping his return will be prompt. Already, Boston is without goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, and defenseman Kevan Miller is expected to be on the shelf for several weeks.
Missing Backes from the lineup means Boston has to shake up their offense, and on a team that doesn’t have a wealth of solid depth forwards, that can be troublesome. The Bruins have only had three goals come from players outside of their top-six, and two of those have been from off-season acquisition Dominic Moore.
The hope will have to be that whoever moves up to a bigger role can contribute over the next pair of games, and then continue to do so if Backes finds himself shelved for longer. In Backes’ absence on Tuesday, rookie Danton Heinen drew into the top-six against the Wild, skating nearly 17 minutes one outing after he was a healthy scratch against the Montreal Canadiens.
Boston has also reached down into the AHL for some help with Backes out through the weekend, bringing Austin Czarnik up to the big club. Czarnik, 23, has played two games for the Bruins this season, but only has a single shot on goal to his name. In 68 games with Providence in 2015-16, Czarnik netted 20 goals and 61 points, and he’s managed one goal and three points in two games with the AHL Bruins in 2016-17.
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The Flyers celebrate a goal.
Enjoy the plethora of goals now because it's very likely goaltending improves, rookie stars slow down, and referees put their whistles away.
Much has been made of the plethora of goals that have been scored in the NHL so far this season. Dynamic players and suspect goaltending have combined to give goal judges a case of repetitive stress injuries from pressing the goal-light button so often during the league’s first 93 games.
And the numbers are there to back it up. So far this season, teams have combined to produce an average of 5.91 goals per game, which doesn’t take into account the goal awarded to teams that win shootouts. In addition, there are 54 players who have played at least four games so far who are averaging a point per game, and that includes nine defensemen and six rookies. One of those players – Zach Werenski – is both a defenseman and a rookie and, going into Wednesday night’s games, freshman Auston Matthews leads the league in scoring and is on a 137-point pace.
It’s impressive to be sure, but is it going to continue? Almost certainly not. Even though this season is a little more productive out of the gate than most, the reality is that scoring is usually higher during the first part of the season before levelling off. It has been speculated that it’s so much more dramatic this season because the offensive players have already found their groove after having participated in the World Cup, but defensemen and goaltenders were part of that tournament, too.
And it’s not as though this is unprecedented. In fact, not long ago, scoring was at the same pace as it is now after roughly the same period of time. After 92 games in 2009-10, teams were actually scoring more than they are this season, averaging 5.97 non-shootout goals per game. The season before, the average was just slightly lower, at 5.86 goals per game after 91 games. And what ultimately happened? Well, in 2009-10, things evened out and the league finished the season at 5.46 non-shootout goals per game, which is pretty much average for this era. The league had four 100-point scorers and a total of 23 full-time players who averaged at least a point per game. In 2008-09, the league had three 100-point men and 20 regulars who averaged a point per game.
It will be interesting to see where this season goes. You’d have to think that there are a number of goaltenders who will find their games before long. Having sleeker pants can’t possibly be making that much of a difference. But what will bear more scrutiny is how the rookies and young players continue to produce as the season goes on.
Remember, these rookies who are filling the net are going through the league for the first time at the moment. Once opponents get a book on them, it’s probably going to be that much more difficult to make the same kinds of eye-popping plays they’re making right now. And none of them has experienced the rigors of the NHL on a long-term basis. Even Connor McDavid played only 45 games last season, so nobody’s sure how good he’s going to be after 60 games of going against the top shutdown lines in the league.
But more than anything, NHL coaches are notorious for finding ways of shutting down offensive players. They will have their teams adapt defensively and as the season moves on, will be clamping down on star players a lot more closely. And that doesn’t even take into account the inevitable erosion in the standard of officiating that seems to happen every year. As the season goes on, the hooking and holding that occurs early often degenerates into tackling and full nelsons by the end of the season.
Perhaps none of that will happen, but recent history tells us that it almost always does. There’s a chance the quick feet, hands and minds of the young players who have dazzled us for the first eight percent of the season will continue to do so, undeterred by checking and officiating. But that being said, it’s far easy to destroy a masterpiece than to create one. By the same token, it’s easier to stop star players from scoring, particularly when you’re abetted by a league that seems to love parity as much as the NHL does, than it is to continue to create offense. This is a league that goes to great pains to point out how close its games always are, conveniently forgetting the fact that it’s impossible to have large margins of victory when nobody is scoring.
It would be wonderful to see this level of scoring continue or, shocker of shockers, even rise a little. Enjoy it now, but it would be unwise to count on it continuing in the long term.