August 23, 2010

1970s All Decade Team: Goaltenders

Today we continue our look at the best of the best of the 1970s.

Who will tend to the goal crease for our 1970s All Decade Team? I see 6 serious candidates:
  • Ken Dryden - 258-57-74 record in the 1970s is ridiculous. And he only played 8 seasons. Add to that 6 Stanley Cups, 5 Vezina Trophies, 1 Conn Smythe trophy.
  • Vladislav Tretiak - Soviet netminder foiled Dryden time and time again. He never played in the NHL, but he did win gold at both Olympics of the decade, as well as 7 golds in the annual World Championships. His play in the 1972 Summit Series made him a hero in both Russia and Canada.
  • Tony Esposito - 311 wins in the decade are by far the best (he did play 3 more regular seasons than Dryden). Three time Vezina trophy winner was also the shutout king, with 65 of his career 76 SOs coming this decade.
  • Bernie Parent - Parent's spectacular goaltending was the biggest reason the Flyers won back to back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, and his absence due to injury was a big reason they lost in the Cup finals in 1976. 223-126-95 in the decade, but much of the decade he was "just" very good in comparison to his two peak seasons when he won the Cup. He had perhaps the best peak of any 1970s goalie.
  • Rogie Vachon - The star of the 1976 Canada Cup compiled the third most wins in the decade with 235, despite playing with a weak Los Angeles team. Also for this reason he was better than his numbers suggest. He was chased from Montreal to the Kings after the arrival of Dryden.
  • Gerry Cheevers - "Cheesy" won Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. His 149 NHL wins ranks in 8th for the decade, this despite spending 4 seasons in the WHA as one of their top goaltenders.
From their the talent level drops. The next tier of NHL goalies includes Eddie Johnston, Gilles Gilbert, Dan Bouchard, Suitcase Smith, Gilles Meloche, Cesare Maniago, Wayne Stephenson and we'll say Billy Smith, who far enjoyed the 1980s more so than the 1990s. Joe Daley, John Garrett, Ron Grahame and Richard Brodeur were good in the WHA. Internationally consideration should go to Jiri Holecek and Vladimir Dzurilla.

So who makes the cut? This is really tough to choose.

Ken Dryden was aided by a great team in front of him at the NHL level and floundered internationally. But how do deny his resume?

Tretiak's legacy is the greatest of them all, but he had troubles in the biggest of games - losing games 6, 7 and 8 of the Summit Series being case in point.

Tony O was spectacular in net with an average Chicago team that never went to far in the playoffs. Bernie Parent had the highest peak of them all.

It hurts me to leave any four of these goalies off the team, but ultimately there are only two goalie positions open for the 1970s All Decade Team. I will choose Ken Dryden and Vladislav Tretiak as my two goalies. If I could have a third goalie I would choose Tony Esposito.


Anonymous said...

I know Rogie is one of your guys, hopefully he gets his day in Toronto. I can't argue with your picks. It would have been fun to see the soviet stopper play in the NHL, but he was spectacular, especially in games vs. the NHL elite. Tony "O", what a great goalie. I would also have to agree any argument about 70s greats would ahve to include Bernie Parent. How could it not? As you say Dryden had 3 of the games greatest defensemen in front of him and an offense that kept the puck in the enemy's zone much of the game. Still his massive size was intimidating and he had lighting quick reflexes for a big man. He changed he game, before Ken, many of the goalies were smaller, faster guys (like the Gumper). Cheevers, with the stitch-mask, will always be one of my favs. A golden era for giants between the pipes. The 1970s!

Anonymous said...

tony Esposito all the way!!!!

Kerwin Maude said...

Undeniably, Jacques Plante was a premium netminder who altered the game, and made untold contributions to the crease. He was the first goalie to play like a third defenseman, stopped pucks around the net for his players to pick up, roamed out of the net, made the game safer because of him mastering the fiberglass molded masks and marketed them, he wrote many books on guarding the posts, and played in his 40's not including hoisting the coveted Vezina trophy and Stanley Cup. We can agree to disagree who was the best, but his achievement and accolades far surpassed others. The guy was a legend, and made Canada proud. While masks changed styles and colors, it was Plante who, thought outside the box and made it safer for untold generations of pro athletes and amateurs who played the game like myself.