Can Tim Thomas Become the Oldest Goalie to Win the Stanley Cup?
Yesterday, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas turned 38.
Last year, the two-time Vezina trophy winner brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time since 1970, exactly two months after turning 37. Will he be able to match that feat in the 2012 NHL playoffs?
If the past two games with the Washington Capitals are any indication (one overtime mistake notwithstanding), then he's got a pretty good shot. But this brings to mind an intriguing question: Who is the oldest starting goalie to win the cup in the post-1967 expansion era? Where does Thomas rank?
Read on to find out.
7. Ed Belfour, Dallas Stars
34 years, one month, 29 days
A 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, Belfour made his bones in Chicago, playing the first seven-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Blackhawks (winning a pair of Vezinas in the process). Belfour managed a trip to the finals while in Chicago in '92, but the Mike Keenan-led Blackhawks were swept by Mario Lemieux and the Penguins.
After spending the latter-half of the '97 season with the San Jose Sharks, Belfour signed with the Stars during that offseason and became an integral part of a squad which would make back-to-back finals appearances a few years later.
6. Mike Vernon, Detroit Red Wings
34 years, three months, 14 days
As a 26-year-old in 1989, Mike Vernon captured the Stanley Cup for Calgary, bringing the city its first (and only) championship. But after 10 years and six All-Star selections in Calgary, the Flames traded their long-time goalie to Detroit in the summer of 1994.
Coincidentally, Vernon was brought in to help develop a young goalie the Red Wings were bringing along at the time, who happens to be the next entrant on this list. But more on that later.
Vernon, while splitting regular-season ice time with the aforementioned youngster, managed to grab the lion's share of the minutes when the playoffs rolled around in 1997. Vernon rewarded coach Scotty Bowman's decision by winning the Conn Smythe trophy en route to a 4-0 sweep of the Flyers in the finals.
5. Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings
35 years, six months, nine days
Clearly, this was Vernon's regular-season battery-mate in 1997.
Though sharing goaltending duties with the 34-year-old throughout the year, Osgood served as backup to Vernon during Detroit's '97 cup run. But it was second stint in Detroit which proved to be a charm for the then 35-year-old.
In 2005, after stints with the Islanders and Blues, Osgood re-signed with the Red Wings in August as a free agent. He eventually worked his way back into the starting spot and led the Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008 with a 4-2 win over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.
4. Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
35 years, eight months, four days
Roy has the distinction of being the youngest, and one of the oldest goaltenders to ever take home a Stanley Cup. Roy was just 20 years old during his magical cup run with the Canadiens in the spring of '86, while he was a gray-bearded 35 when he helped Ray Bourque and the Avalanche defeat the New Jersey Devils in 2001.
The legendary goaltender also added his third Conn Smythe trophy to his mantle during the '01 cup run.
3. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
37 years, two months, zero days
If you don't remember last year's cup run, you're either currently in a coma, a Canadiens fan or you hate hockey—with any of those scenarios, you're probably not reading this slideshow.
With a repeat in 2012, Boston's No. 30 would leap-frog up to the No. 2 spot.
2. Dominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings
37 years, four months, 15 days
It seems that the Red Wings have had a thing for old (ahem, experienced) goalies over the past few decades. See: Vernon, Osgood; now Hasek.
"The Dominator" played 16 NHL seasons, becoming what amounted to a one-man wrecking crew for the Sabres for many years (Hasek led the league in save percentage for six years running while in Buffalo and also sports the NHL's highest career save percentage).
A two-time Hart and six-time Vezina trophy winner, Hasek led the Sabres to the 1999 finals, only to be defeated 4-2 by the Presidents' Trophy-winning Dallas Stars (and, you guessed it, Ed Belfour).
Hasek finally got his chance in 2002, when he was traded to Detroit, where he and the Red Wings took home the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup following a 4-1 series win over the Carolina Hurricanes in the finals.
The then-37-year-old Hasek tops Thomas' 2011 cup run by approximately two-and-a-half months.
1. Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens
38 years, 11 months, 27 days (1968 Stanley Cup winner)
39 years, 11 months, 20 days (1969 Stanley Cup winner)
Ah, yes—the curious case of Lorne "Gump" Worsley.
The deceptively pudgy netminder, who played for the Rangers, Canadiens and North Stars, won four Stanley Cups over the course of a 21-year career—all of which came with Montreal. Worsley, a two-time Vezina winner, was the oldest goaltender ever to win a cup, twice over.
He helped the Canadiens take home the prize in both 1968 and '69, his age 38 and 39 seasons respectively.
But it wasn't age that took down this Hall of Famer to be—it was a fear of flying that stopped his career dead in its tracks. He retired in November of 1969 (in the season following his final cup win), due to his fear, as he was unable to handle the constant criss-crossing of the U.S. and Canada through the airways.
Minnesota GM Wren Blair then convinced him (later in '69) to play for the North Stars, allowing him to man the net for home games only. He then went on to play four more full seasons in Minnesota, retiring at the age of 44.