Goalie or Quarterback—Which Postion Is More Important?

Ryan Senior Writer ISeptember 11, 2008

In sports, the quarterback position is often considered not only the most challenging to master, but the most important of all positions in any sport. Of course, any hockey fan would contest that the goaltender is the most important. That's why I'm here. So, which is more important?

Well, you can obviously make the general assumption, but you would of course have to dive into individual examples. First, the general: For one, both positions depend greatly on their team. Goaltenders, for the most part, are only as good as the defense in front of them. For quarterbacks, it's usually dependent on the weapons surrounding them.

For both, on a good team, they merely have to be adequate. Don't let in the easy goal/turn over the ball and you're golden. Seems like a push on the lower end of the spectrum. However, here's where things get interesting. What happens when the team has a great goalie/quarterback?  

Well, the performances push the team to a better record and stats, right? In most cases, yes. However, the quarterback alone cannot carry a team to a title. It has never happened and it never will. He is too dependent on the other parts. If the offensive line fails, he has no time to throw.

If the running game fails, the defense plays the pass extra hard. If his receivers can't catch, his pass will be futile. But the goaltender, well, at the end of the day it's all in his hands. A hot goalie can swing a series quicker than anything else. Ask the 2003 Ducks, led by the white-hot J.S. Giguere.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is the 1998-99 Buffalo Sabres. Led by all-world goalie Dominik Hasek, the Sabres limped into the playoffs as the seventh seed (fourth in their division). They were just 10th in the Eastern Conference in scoring, but gave up the fewest goals in the East.  

They were a solid defensive team, led by Selke nominee Michael Peca, but they were by no means a defensive stalwart. Hasek was the catalyst. Playing just 64 games that year, he went 30-18-14 (accounting for 74 of Buffalo's 91 points) with a ridiculous 1.87 goals against average and a .937 save percentage, tacking on nine shutouts.

However, in the playoffs, Hasek really stepped up. He allowed just six goals in the four-game sweep of Ottawa (including a double overtime game) in the first round, 10 more in the six-game series win over Boston, and was a slight notch down in the five-game victory over Toronto, allowing 16 goals.

The Sabres would go on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Dallas Stars in a controversial sixth game. Hasek is without a doubt one of the few players in history to single-handedly drag his team to a championship game. Without him, the Sabres were vying for the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 NHL Draft (which ended up being mega-bust Patrik Stefan).

Simply put, the goalie is more important and has a far bigger impact on the broader spectrum of things than a quarterback ever could.