NHL: The Top 100 Goaltenders in NHL History

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NHL: The Top 100 Goaltenders in NHL History
Courtesy of LIFE Archives

It is an extremely tough exercise to try and compare goaltenders from different eras.  Ranking them in order from 1 to 100 is an even tougher task if you ask me, as trying to compare goalies from the 1920's (and earlier) to the goalies of today is nearly impossible to do. After all, how can you fairly compare goalies who played in the era of six teams in the league, playing without masks or helmets, but to an extent lesser skilled players to the goalies of today, that wear as much padding as they do, but have to face more highly skilled players that watch video of other teams to be able to exploit weaknesses?  What about the fact the NHL schedule has ranged from 24 to 84 games over the last 90-plus years?  Along with labor issues and rule changes, they all have impacted the stat accumulations of different players, which needs to be taken into account.

As I said, it's nearly impossible.  How do you value the player who had one or two spectacular seasons versus the goalie that has a long body of work?  How do I distinguish between these?  With that, here's one man's opinion on who rank as the 100 greatest goaltenders in the history of the National Hockey League.  Not only is this a look at all of the goalies in the history of the league, but I also hope some of you look at this list as either a learning experience of NHL history, or in some cases, a trip down memory lane, as I know I definitely enjoyed rehashing some of the experiences I have written about with the assembly of this list, especially the ones I witnessed live during my 25+ years of watching NHL hockey.

WRITER'S NOTE:  I tried to eliminate players track records outside of the NHL for this purpose, meaning a player like Vladislav Tretiak was not included.  Also, I tried to not let international performances influence my rankings either, meaning Mike Richter did not receive the benefit of his amazing 1996 World Cup performance.  These are obviously just two examples, I also think it's inevitable there could be a bias to players I have watched and seen live as opposed to players from the distant past that I have only read about and watched clips.  Thanks also to Hockey-reference.com for a place to look up the relevant stats.

I look forward to everyone's opinion on this and welcome any and all friendly debates that might arise from this list.


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