Prime 5 Goaltenders of the Seventies

Rating all-time greats, regardless of the game, is a near-impossible process. Virtually each period is drastically totally different from the following and the sport of hockey is not any totally different. With that in thoughts, we determined to interrupt down our take a look at the best goaltenders to have performed the sport by decade and see how each fared in opposition to their contemporaries. Listed here are the boys who have been thought of to be the “better of the very best” in the course of the Seventies.

#5 – Gerry Cheevers

Of all of the goaltenders who performed in the course of the Seventies, nobody had their total numbers affected extra by the WHA than Gerry Cheevers. After backstopping the Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cups over a three-year interval (1969-70 and 1971-72) the fan favorite determined to bolt to the Cleveland Crusaders, signing a seven-year pact for $1.4 million. Although he would solely play three and half of these years within the WHA earlier than returning to Boston, it roughly value him a 3rd of the last decade in counting stats.

Gerry Cheevers, Boston Bruins, circa 1974 (Picture by B Bennett/Getty Photographs)

Cheevers completed twenty third in video games performed amongst goaltenders in the course of the seventies however nonetheless landed seventh on the wins checklist with 149. Regardless of by no means being named to a year-end All-Star crew or a severe contender for the Vezina, the person who was affectionately referred to as “Cheesey” was thought of among the many finest at his place throughout a lot of his profession. Outdoors of his 32-game unbeaten streak in 1972, a document that also stands to at the present time, there may be nothing on his resume that stands out.

But his skill to repeatedly make key saves when the Bruins wanted it most, led many to counsel he was among the many finest “massive sport” goaltenders to have ever performed…a tag that has stayed with Cheevers to at the present time. Add the killer masks, his distinctive type of play and combativeness on the ice to the equation and it turns into subsequent to inconceivable to depart him off the checklist and his induction into the Hockey Corridor of Fame in 1985 solely additional solidifies that mind-set.

#4 – Tony Esposito

Regardless of the period, there are at all times these goaltenders who’re thought of to be workhorses. In terms of the Seventies that checklist included one identify. From 1970-71 to 1979-80 the Chicago Blackhawks had Tony Esposito participate in 635 of their 800 common season video games, enjoying practically 37,637 minutes. To place that into perspective, the one goaltender who has come near such a workload since was Martin Brodeur in the course of the 2000s however even he fell quick on each fronts. Although the Hawks have been good in the course of the first half the last decade, the identical couldn’t be mentioned over the past 5 years.

Tony Esposito
Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks, circa Seventies (Picture by Steve Babineau/NHLI through Getty Photographs)

Esposito can be the one goalie to eclipse the 300-win plateau in the course of the seventies, topping the 30-win mark on seven separate events, and likewise lead the league with 56 shutouts. His 2.70 GAA was adequate for fourth finest amongst netminders who appeared in at the very least 115 video games, he made the year-end All-Star crew 4 occasions and received two Vezina Trophies for good measure (1971-72 and 1973-74).  Maybe probably the most telling factor of all was the very fact his two first-team all-star nods got here a mere eight years aside (1971-72 and 1979-80).

Although by no means thought of to be the premier goaltender within the sport for any size of time, Esposito was at all times within the dialog. The place the Ontario native lagged behind the remainder of his counterparts, was when it got here to crew success. Outdoors of Tretiak, who by no means performed a sport within the NHL, each different identify on this checklist received at the very least one Stanley Cup in the course of the decade however the Blackhawks No. 35 was stored off the board utterly. Regardless of his lack of crew success, few have been extra entertaining to look at play the place and he was one of many true pioneers of the butterfly.

#3 – Vladislav Tretiak

Vladislav Tretiak
Vladislav Tretiak (THW Archives)

For somebody who by no means performed a single sport within the league thought of to be the very best of its type on the planet, it will appear virtually inconceivable for a participant to even be thought of for an all-time nice checklist. Nonetheless, like most issues in life, there are at all times exceptions to any rule and with regards to Vladislav Tretiak all bets are off. The viewings might have been restricted for these of us in North America however there isn’t a query had the Russian legend had been given the chance to play within the NHL, he would have probably gone down as one of many best to ever play the sport.

Within the minds of many, Tretiak is already on mentioned checklist and it’s awfully tough to argue in opposition to his inclusion. Although his numbers with CSKA Moscow (aka Crimson Military) and nationwide crew communicate for themselves, it was the extent he appeared to routinely attain in opposition to NHL opposition that was much more spectacular. Did he profit from having a heck of a crew in entrance of him? In fact but it surely was no totally different than Dryden and people nice Montreal groups of the mid-to-late seventies. Nonetheless, what was so particular about No. 20 was his type.

Tretiak used a hybrid rise up – butterfly type like nobody we had ever seen earlier than and the quickness with which he moved his toes was second to none. Time and time once more, he would frustrate one NHL nice after one other and did it with such ease, it should have felt like a misplaced trigger to guys who normally noticed these pucks routinely hit the again of the web in opposition to virtually every other goalie. To no nice shock, it was a type we began to see many younger NHL up and comers undertake and far of it may be attributed to the three-time Olympic gold medalist.

#2 – Bernie Guardian

If nothing else, the 1970’s have been an attention-grabbing time for one Bernie Guardian. Two separate stints with the Philadelphia Flyers, one season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a quick keep within the WHA with the Philadelphia Blazers, back-to-back Conn Smythe successful performances and a neck damage that took away any chance of persistently being the dominant goaltender he as soon as was. Nonetheless, what he was capable of accomplish was nonetheless loads adequate to place second on the checklist of the highest performers within the decade.

After being bombarded on a nightly foundation throughout his 63 appearances with the Blazers, what Guardian managed to do in his return to the NHL has arguably by no means been duplicated. His second tour of responsibility with the Flyers noticed the Quebec native put collectively back-to-back seasons wherein he performed 141 video games, posting a 91-27-22 document with a 1.96 GAA and 24 shutouts. As absurd as these numbers look, he was arguably even higher when it mattered most, 22-10 with a 1.96 GAA and 6 shutouts, in serving to Philadelphia to Stanley Cup Championships in 1974 and 1975.

Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers 1975
Bernie Guardian of the Philadelphia Flyers with the 1975 Stanley Cup, Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy. (Picture by Bruce Bennett Studios through Getty Photographs Studios/Getty Photographs)

Sadly for each the Flyers and Guardian, there can be no run at a three-peat as their star goalie was restricted to only eleven video games in 1975-76. Although he would go on to play three extra seasons, one wherein he partially turned again the clock, he was by no means the identical however his physique of labor speaks for itself. Guardian completed the last decade second in GAA (2.34), third in shutouts (45), fourth in wins (210) and performed in simply 393 video games…4 fewer than Ken Dryden.

#1 – Ken Dryden

His profession might not have lasted lengthy however one can be hard-pressed to seek out a person who did extra in such quick time period than Ken Dryden. Throughout his seven-plus seasons within the league, the Cornell grad helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to 6 Stanley Cup Championships and received 5 Vezina Trophies over mentioned time period. He was additionally awarded the Calder Trophy because the NHL’s high rookie following his spectacular 1971-72 marketing campaign and got here on the heels of his Conn Smythe Trophy successful efficiency as playoff MVP in the course of the Habs shocking run to the 1971 crown.

Ken Dryden #29 of the Montreal Canadiens
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens, circa 1975 (Picture by Denis Brodeur/NHLI through Getty Photographs)

For these of you unfamiliar together with his story, Dryden carried the Canadiens to the hockey’s grand prize with a grand complete of six profession video games underneath his heading into the post-season and adopted it up with a ridiculous displaying throughout his “official” rookie season. After taking the hockey world by storm over the primary two-plus years of his profession, the Hamilton native proceeded to sit down out the 1973-74 marketing campaign attributable to a contract dispute and used his 12 months away from the sport to get his regulation diploma from McGill College.

Not precisely the standard strategy to go about getting issues executed however there was nothing conventional about what Dryden was capable of accomplish throughout his temporary stint within the NHL. His 2.24 GAA was tops amongst all goalies in the course of the decade and regardless of enjoying solely 397 video games, his 258 wins and 46 shutouts trailed solely Tony Esposito (304 and 56) however the latter put these numbers collectively over the course of 635 appearances. At 6’ 4” he was fairly actually a large in comparison with his fellow netminder of that period but it surely was the flexibility to cease pucks that made him each totally different and so particular.


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