The Detroit Red Wings are one of the more successful franchises in sports history. They are third in all-time Stanley Cups and first among teams from the United States. Their rosters show a who’s who of hockey royalty and have made their marks all over the record books.
Howe, Abel, Yzerman and Fedorov are just some of the names of the great skaters the franchise has had. But for all of their success, their depth at goalie has not been as deep.
It’s not the Wings have had bad goalies, it shows more to the fact that they spent nearly four decades with Jack Adams at the helm. He was known for trading players often and for any reason. Maybe he saw the next great player, maybe he was just mad at a player—regardless, many goalies didn’t last long with Adams in town.
The top three goalies are secure in their place in team’s history. After that, the debate rages. The emergence of Jimmy Howard as a top-notch goalie has him crashing the all-time list in only his third full season. If he continues his great play through the remainder of the season, will it be time to move him even higher on the list?
Sawchuk retired with most of the all time goalie records under his name. Even now, over 40 years since he death, he still ranks among the all time greatest goalies.
He had three stints with Detroit and leads the franchise in wins (351) and shutouts (85). In total he played 14 of his 21 seasons in the league with Detroit playing in 734 games.
He won three Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies and the Calder award. Known as one of the toughest goalies ever he played with an incredible amount of injuries. Standard broken bones were a given but he also ruptured disk in his back, collapsed a lung and severed tendons in his hands. He received over 400 stitches to his face over the first 14 years of his career. At that time he finally decided to wear a face mask.
Osgood had one of the most underestimate careers in the history of hockey. He resembles one of those sappy chick flicks that guys are dragged to the theaters to see. You know the one where the leading guy chases after all kinds of beautiful, sexy ladies always overlooking the great and faithful girl who is always there yet only a “friend”. In the end the guy finally comes to his senses and realized what he has had all along. I’m not sure if Detroit fans ever fully appreciated what they had in Osgood.
Osgood spent a good portion of his career being overlooked as the Red Wings, and later the Islanders and Blues, always kept looking for the next best thing. He led the Blues and Islanders to their best records in years during his short time in each place and neither team has reached that level since he moved on.
With Detroit he would win 317 of his 401 career wins. He was a part of three Stanley Cup teams and a two time Jennings Trophy winner. He is fourth all time in NHL win percentage. He also ranks among the best playoff goalies of all time in wins and shutouts.
At one point Lumley was the team leader in wins and is still third all time with 163. He won the Stanley Cup in 1949-50 then was traded away as the team wanted to make room for a young Terry Sawchuk. It came as a surprise to many as he had such a dominant post season with three shutouts and a 1.85 goals against average throughout the playoffs.
Despite retiring in 1960 he is still 17th all time in playoff shutouts with seven and went on to be elected to
the Hockey Hall of fame in 1980.
Hasek will go as one of the best goalies to ever play the game but didn’t arrive in Detroit until late in his career. He would only play four seasons in Detroit but led them to a Stanley Cup in his first season.
Many fans may only remember the back and forth retirements he had or that he was benched in the 2008 playoffs in favor of Chris Osgood but he also played very well in Detroit.
On the all time Wings list, he stands seventh in wins and fourth in shutouts all while boasting an impressive 2.13 goals against while wearing the winged wheel.
Cheveldae just missed out on the Red Wings recent success. He played with the team from 1988-94 when Chris Osgood replaced him.
He was an iron man in net playing in at least 65 games in three straight seasons, including a high of 72. He had good regular season success and would win 128 games in his five seasons with the team. The team struggled in the playoffs though and despite his play improving, he received the bulk of the blame.
Crozier played with the team from the 1963-70 and is fifth all time in team wins with 131.
He won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year. In that season he started all 70 of the team’s games and led the league in wins and shutouts. During his second season the team made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Despite losing to Montreal, Crozier was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy was the playoff’s most valuable player. He would be the first player to win the award despite playing for the losing team.
His last three seasons with the team saw him miss several games due to illness. He was eventually traded to Buffalo.
In 2000, the NHL names an award in honor of him. The Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award goes to the goalie with the best save percentage over the course of a season.
In only his third full season with the team Howard is quickly rising up the all time charts. He had 37 wins in each of his first two wins and is on pace to beat that number this year.
So far this season he is among the league leaders in wins, shutouts and goals against and is an early candidate for the Vezina Trophy.
He was the runner up for the Calder trophy after his rookie season. His playoffs stats fell off from his regular season stats and the team was bounced in the second round. This made many in Hockeytown to wonder if he had what it took to be a playoff goalie. He bounced back in his second try in the playoffs dropping his gaa from 2.75 to 2.49 and reinstalling confidence in fans and the team.
If maintains the tremendous play that he has shown so far in his young career then he will quickly move up this list.
To understand just how good Hall was, one just has to know that he is the goalie that replaced Terry Sawchuk. In 1956 he won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year where he started every game and had 12 shutouts.
He only played two full seasons in Detroit but was pretty unstoppable during that time. He posted a 2.12 gaa with 17 shutouts over those two. His seventy-four wins puts him 13th on the teams all time win list.
His 2.12 gaa tops the list among goalies with at least 100 games played.
Smith was a two time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings and the Vezina winner in 1937. He set the record with a 92 save performance during the longest playoff game the NHL had seen, 176 minutes.
He had a 2.26 gaa during his time in Detroit.
Vernon is another player that did not stay with the team long, but makes the list for helping to end the franchise’s 42-year Stanley Cup draught.
He played just three seasons in Detroit and despite sharing the goalie spot with Chris Osgood, he still managed to earn 53 wins. He also led the Wings to two Stanley Cup finals, winning in their second trip. He earned the Conn Smythe award for his play during the 1997 playoffs, where he went 16-4 with a 1.76 G.A.A.